Lifeline Support For Struggling Businesses Urgently Needed, Warn MP and MSP

THERE were renewed demands yesterday (Wednesday, 13th Jan 2021) for an urgent speed-up of stalled support for businesses struggling because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell called on the Scottish Government to ensure the grants process is accelerated.

 

They back a proposal from the Scottish Conservatives for the SNP Scottish Government to introduce a 10-day business grant turnaround guarantee.

 

The local parliamentarians say SNP Ministers must deliver promised funding to businesses before lengthy delays in distributing grants cost further jobs in Dumfries and Galloway.

At First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood this week, Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t say if even a tenth of the promised funding had been delivered to businesses.

Ms Sturgeon described funding as being 'live' but repeatedly dodged answering Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson’s questions on how much had actually been paid out, not just announced.

The Scottish Government has only published evidence of £6 million out of approximately £300 million reaching businesses.

 

A leaked document from Cosla -- the local government umbrella organisation -- indicates only seven out of 30 business funds are active and councils are still awaiting guidance on funds announced a month ago.

Scottish Conservatives have called for ten-day turnaround guarantees for all business grants, as the SNP originally aimed to do at the beginning of the pandemic last March.

 

The party pointed out there was little evidence that the SNP's £185m of business support announced a month ago had been delivered or and that £700 million provided by the UK Government to the Scottish Government for the purpose had been allocated.

 

Oliver Mundell last night warned a worrying number of businesses in his constituency were struggling to survive as they awaited a decision on support.

 

He said: "Lockdown is sadly essential in the current circumstances but I'm constantly being asked by local business people what has happened to the substantial support funding already allocated to the Scottish Government by the UK Government."

 

David Mundell added: "Some larger enterprises are astonished that the current Government grants of up to £9,000 in other parts of the UK have not, so far at least, been matched by the SNP at Holyrood."

 

Meanwhile, new data shows that 530 jobseekers in Dumfries and Galloway have been helped to start new enterprises through direct UK Government support during the last decade.