WELCOME CLARITY OVER SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS

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The Scottish Government has allocated more than £2 billion in emergency business support to be distributed by councils. To be eligible for the cash grants businesses must be on the non-domestic rates roll or registered for the Small Business Bonus rates. However, a small number were left off the local non-domestic rates roll due to administrative errors and were not registered for small business bonus.

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the intervention from the Scottish Government as some local businesses failed to qualify for emergency COVID grants.

The SNP MSP had written to the government Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP and the council, requesting clarity after being approached by desperate businesses.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“A number of businesses in Dumfries and Galloway had contacted me after being told by the council that faulty paperwork meant they could not get their COVID-19 grant immediately.

Ms Forbes had already told them they could use their discretion and some councils elsewhere in Scotland were happy with this. However Dumfries and Galloway officers wanted more guidance. I wrote to Miss Forbes and she last night issued that new guidance. I hope now all councils have the confidence to start distributing the grants as soon as possible.

“I have been fighting hard for local firms and will continue to stick up for them throughout this crisis. So if any business in the region is still having difficulty accessing their grants they can get in touch with me and I’ll do what I can to help.

“Over £388 million worth of grants have already been distributed across Scotland, so it’s only a small number who have been unable to access them. Hopefully this new guidance will ensure that they now receive the help they desperately need. The council has assured me that these businesses are now their priority and they are working as hard as they can to get the grants paid out as soon as possible.

“This will be welcome news to bone fide small businesses who have been trading for years but whose details had not been updated. These micro businesses who had been in touch with me were desperate- they have overheads and bills to pay. When the crisis is over there’s a job to be done to ensure that systems are in place to update the rates roll as soon as a business takes on a tenancy.”

Dumfries and Galloway Councillor Stephen Thompson added,

“D&G Council has, as of yesterday, paid out £16.78 million in Business Grants, 4.3% of the national total paid out so far, so we’re well above average for Scottish Local Authorities. However the additional guidance is very welcome and will enable officers to distribute more grants to the remaining businesses still to apply, and those that were falling between the gaps.

“This process has helped to quickly identify areas for improvement in Council records and systems, and will give business owners another chance to double-check to ensure their own details are correct.”