More than 30,000 firms in Scotland apply to Business Support Fund

Nicola Sturgeon has revealed around 30,000 applications have been made to councils in Scotland from firms in need of help from the Business Support Fund, which offers grants to small and medium enterprises.

Many normally busy streets - such as Edinburgh's High Street - are now virtually empty as the coronavirus lockdown takes hold. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The First Minister confirmed plans today to transfer £950 million of funding to local authorities, so money can begin to be handed out from Monday.

She told MSPs: “I know how desperately hard the last few weeks have been for business and I hope that these payments, together with the wider support available from the Scottish and UK Governments, will go someway to helping.”

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The one-off grants were announce last week and are designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovery, and more than 90,000 ratepayers across Scotland will be able to benefit.

The grant support is additional to separate tax relief measures and is part of a package of measures worth £2.2 billion.

Small businesses in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail business can benefit.

The list is not exhaustive and if businesses think they may be eligible for one of these grants, they should contact their local authority, which are administering the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Announcing the package last week, finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “While our primary concern is for people’s health, it is clear that the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak will have severe economic consequences, and we are treating it as an economic emergency.

“We are determined to help keep companies in business and support them and their staff during this difficult time.

“Local authorities are the most efficient way to deliver this and we have worked closely with them to deliver these measures – and eligible businesses can apply now.

“Local authorities will aim to make payments within 10 working days, and I’d like to thank them for their help in ensuring this support is delivered as quickly as possible.

“The COVID-19 situation, however, is both severe and fast-moving and requires a coordinated UK response: I will continue to work closely with the UK Government and the other devolved administrations.”

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