Small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic have urged the government to act swiftly to hand out the lifeline financial packages.
Around 100,000 firms in Scotland who receive the Small Business Bonus are now waiting to receive a £10,000 grant to support them. Other grants are also on offer under a £2.2 billion package from the Scottish Government, but business leaders yesterday called for the application process to be made as quick and simple as possible.
Stuart Mackinnon, of the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said: “Many businesses in Scotland are in critical need of the multi-billion-pound package.
“However it looks unlikely you will be unable to apply for either the grants or the reliefs until April.”
The virus has had a devastating impact on businesses, particularly those which rely on public footfall.
Lesley Elder who runs family jewellery shop John McKay in Paisley town centre was in tears as she dealt with her last customers for the foreseeable future.
She said: “I’m closing my doors because I no longer have enough staff because they are having to self isolate, and customer numbers have nosedived. The last few days have been deeply traumatic.”
Yesterday John Lewis said it is temporarily closing all 50 of its UK department stores.
Sadly due to the unfolding situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19), we will be temporarily closing John Lewis shops from the end of the day on Monday 23 March. However, we are very much open – you can still order online at https://t.co/lBaW2rtWO1. See https://t.co/BBac69a33Q pic.twitter.com/PEdUOmyHw3
— John Lewis & Partners (@jlandpartners) March 21, 2020
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working quickly to establish the best way for people and businesses to access the funding.”
Ministers are coming under pressure to help self-employed people, who are yet to be offered the same support extended to those laid off.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a plan on Friday to underwrite 80% of workers’ wages, but measures do not include freelancers, contractors or the self-employed.
Warning over loans
Loan firms have been accused of preying on families panicking because of coronavirus.
MSP Neil Findlay is calling on the government to cap interest rates after communities were leafleted by firms offering cash loans at over 433%.
He said: “In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic our most hard-pressed communities are being targeted by loan firms.
“This pandemic has brought out the best in people and the worst.”
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