New restrictions another blow for struggling Arran businesses

Skye MSP Kate Forbes, pictured, has welcomed fresh assurances from NHS Highland that a new renal dialysis service on Skye will be 'ready for patients in December'. NO-F-42-KATE-FORBES-SERIOUS-01.jpg

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Businesses on Arran trying to offer their services during lockdown were hit by a further blow this week with tougher rules on click and collect shopping and takeaway food being introduced from tomorrow (Saturday).

The six new rules include limiting click and collect to essential goods; stopping customers going inside takeaways and banning drinking alcohol outside, as well as statutory guidance on employers to allow staff to work from home.

However, there was relief on the island that the services were not stopped completely with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying the new measures were were necessary to try to stop the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus and, in particular, the new virulent strain.

She said the measures were ‘regrettable but necessary means to an end’ but added that although these are dark and difficult times, there were also grounds for hope.

Meanwhile, there was some relief for island businesses earlier this week when  Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes announced top-up grants for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses closed across the country by level 4 restrictions.

In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of:

  • £25,000 for larger hospitality businesses on top of the four-weekly £3,000;
  • £6,000 for smaller hospitality businesses on top of the four-weekly £2,000;
  • £9,000 for larger retail and leisure businesses on top of the four-weekly £3,000;
  • £6,000 for smaller retail and leisure businesses on top of the four-weekly £2,000.

In most cases, eligible businesses that have already applied for the four-weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will get an automatic top-up.

For the majority, this top-up will be combined with the next tranche of payment for the Strategic Framework Business Fund due to go to businesses on January 25.

Businesses that haven’t yet applied for either of these funds should submit an application as soon as possible through their local authority website. Applications are now open.

Ms Forbes said: ‘Since the start of the pandemic, Scottish Government support for business and the economy has reached almost £3 billion – more than a third of our total coronavirus (Covid-19) funding, demonstrating our commitment to provide as much help as we possibly can to our businesses.

‘As promised, this additional support for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses will be available this month, in some cases doubling or tripling the amount of support we are providing. Applications are open now and payment will be made this month.

‘Crucially, this essential funding will also help to close the gaps in UK-wide support for these impacted sectors and our one-off support for larger hospitality premises of £25,000 is considerably more generous than the £9,000 grant on offer in England.

‘I’d encourage all eligible businesses to apply through their local authority if they have not done so already. Of course we are acutely aware this support can never compensate for the full impact on business, but we must work within the resources that are available to us and we continue to respond to the evolving economic challenges arising from the pandemic.’

The Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland also welcomed the move. Scotland policy chairman Andrew McRae said: ‘This should help some smaller Scottish businesses weather the current storm for a bit longer.

‘We’d urge all eligible independent businesses facing difficulties to apply for this help or we face chains and larger operators swallowing up the bulk of the funding.

‘The Scottish government still has work to do to get previously announced support schemes up and running. And we must see help reach those that have had little or nothing so far, like many home-based businesses.’