Covid support payments for businesses don’t go far enough, claims Conservative candidate Struan Mackie
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Conservative candidate Struan Mackie says he is concerned that Covid-19 support payments for businesses don’t go far enough and has called on the Scottish Government to help hard-pressed firms that have "fallen through the cracks".
“Hundreds of Highlands and Islands businesses have not qualified for the Scottish Government's targeted support, despite billions being provided by Westminster," he said. "It is particularly frustrating that many sectors in the local economy have been excluded, or have received less than similar businesses in England."
Councillor Mackie, who represents Thurso and Northwest Caithness on Highland Council and is the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross in this year's Holyrood election, went on: "Businesses have been patiently waiting for the discretionary scheme that was announced last year by the finance secretary but many will feel that what is being provided is not the silver bullet that they expected.
“The local authority administered discretionary scheme offers a maximum of £2000 to applicants occupying large commercial premises, or £1200 to small firms, but there is already a postcode lottery emerging with different criteria being applied across Scotland.
“These sums will fall well short of the expectations of hard-pressed businesses that have waited patiently for their opportunity to claim back lost revenue due to the coronavirus outbreak. I am calling for the Scottish Government to hand over the cash it was given to support businesses by Westminster and ensure that their self-imposed restrictions on financial support are lifted before irreversible damage is done."
Finance secretary Kate Forbes said last week that the Scottish Government had committed more than £3 billion to support businesses and protect jobs during the pandemic, and she encouraged all those affected to check what support is available.
Statistics published earlier in the month showed that £244 million was paid to businesses through three funds in January alone.