Delivering support for Scotland’s businesses to meet the challenge of COVID-19

The Coronavirus outbreak is an anxious time for everyone. It is a global public health challenge the like of which we have not faced in recent times, but we are doing everything we possibly can to make sure we are as well prepared as possible to meet that challenge.

The Scottish Government’s primary concern remains protecting people’s health – but it is still the case that as people follow the advice to stay at home, the Coronavirus outbreak is having severe economic consequences for businesses across the country.

Today, the Scottish Government announced a second phase of funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new package of measures includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.

A further £100 million fund is also being made available to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses in distress due to COVID-19.

This fund will be a vital lifeline for those who may have slipped through the cracks, and will target newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish Government or UK Government schemes.

With UK Government support not being available until June, we are going further to secure the future economic viability of Scottish firms by opening applications by the end of the month.

Our initial package of support has helped tens of thousands of Scottish businesses in what is an incredibly difficult time, and our main priority remains ensuring that people have money in their pockets, and businesses can bounce back to normal after this is all over.

This second phase of funding reflects the discussions that we have had with business organisations across the country, and complements the initiatives already announced by the UK Government, whilst taking into account the distinct needs and circumstances of Scotland’s economy.

It ensures that we have a more tailored package of support which provides financial help for a wider range of businesses than anywhere else in the UK.

We want this support to help businesses get through these difficult times, but crucially, I am asking employers to keep listening to their employees – this is the challenge of all our lifetimes and we must all work together to get through it.

I recognise the challenges businesses across Scotland are facing, so I will keep listening to businesses in every part of the country, and do absolutely everything I can to ensure they receive as much help as possible at this challenging time.