Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has announced a £320m rescue package to support business through the Covid-19 outbreak. She also revealed that a £50m hardship fund will be made available to people who lose their jobs as a result of a downturn caused by the virus.
The package includes:
- 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
- £80m fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of Covid-19
- 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
- Fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020
The finance secretary will also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from ratepayers for payment deferrals for a fixed period.
Kate Forbes said, “Covid-19 will have challenging implications for businesses and the economy over the coming weeks and months.
“As well as following the latest health and travel advice, it’s also crucial we consider the latest economic analysis and listen carefully to what the business community is telling us. We know that the tourism and hospitality sectors are facing immediate pressure, which is why we have directed support to them in particular.”
She said that all ratepayers would benefit from a relief that effectively reversed the planned inflationary uplift that was due to come into effect in April.
She also said the Scottish government was preparing a £50m fund for people who lose their jobs as a result of measures taken to limit the spread of the virus. This makes up the rest of the £360m-plus grant given by the Treasury in last week’s budget.
Reacting to the announcement, Tracy Black of CBI Scotland, said, “These are substantive steps from the Scottish government that will be hugely welcomed by business. Sector-specific support is vital in hospitality, leisure and retail. Freezing rates and introducing direct grants are also important elements – and more may be needed, as knock-on effects are emerging daily in sectors and businesses of all sizes. So the scale of response must keep pace with the impact. Agility is essential.”