South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has reiterated his calls for increased support for businesses in the area and warned that many are days away from collapse unless more is done by Government.

The local MSP has found serious gaps in the current package of support and also unacceptable discrepancies between what businesses can access north and south of the border.

Just some of the issues which local businesses have highlighted to Colin Smyth include:

  • A lack of support for small businesses such as guest houses and B&Bs, who pay Council Tax rather than business rates
  • Questions exist about why self-caterers in Scotland are required to meet a higher threshold to access support than other businesses and self-caterers in England.
  • Businesses with multiple premises are only eligible for one grant in Scotland, when in England they are eligible for one grant per property.
  • Those self-employed people who have been self-employed for less than year are still not eligible for support.
  • Directors of small businesses without registered premises are not technically self-employed as they pay themselves through their business, but also are not eligible for business support distributed on the basis of rates.

The call for extra support comes at a time when Britain’s independent tax and spending watchdog has warned the coronavirus pandemic could see the UK economy shrink by a record 35% by June. The Office for Budget Responsibility today (14 April 2020) said that based on an assumption that the current lockdown would last for three months, unemployment would hit 10%, from its current 3.9% rate.

Colin Smyth said: “I am calling on the UK and Scottish Government, local councils and our newly formed enterprise agency to come together and to tackle the glaring gaps which clearly exist in the current package of measures to help businesses.

“I am getting calls and e-mails on a daily basis from local businesses who are concerned that it is only a matter of time before they collapse unless more support is provided.

“This is a terrible time for everyone and we are in a completely unprecedented situation. I have praised both the Scottish and UK Governments in the support that has so far been delivered but there are massive omissions and gaps which cannot be ignored.

“This is first and foremost a health crisis, but it is also an economic tsunami and the more our governments can do to assist businesses during this time, the better.

“I will continue to push for extra measures of support for these overlooked businesses and individuals, and I would urge anyone who needs help to get in touch with me by e-mailing or calling my team on 01387 279205.”

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