South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged local businesses to apply for funding from a number of new business support schemes that opened for applications today (30 April 2020).

However, the local MSP warned that the level of funding allocated to the schemes would be too low to tackle the problems eligible businesses face and pledged to continue to campaign for more support for businesses from the UK and Scottish Governments.

The three new funds opening today are:

• The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – a £45 million fund for viable but vulnerable SME firms who are vital to Scotland’s economy

• The Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund – a £20 million fund for small creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of COVID-19 business rates relief

• The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund – a £35 million fund for newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “These new funds seek to fill some of the gaps that have been revealed since the original package of support for businesses was announced by the UK and Scottish Government.

“For example, the original support for self-employed people only helped those who had been in business for a couple of years so the Newly Self Employed Hardship Fund will provide some support, albeit a very small amount, to those who set up recently.

“There are also many companies who don’t pay rates such as some guesthouses who pay council tax instead, so those businesses weren’t eligible for grants linked to the rateable value of the property. The Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund may help those businesses. I would urge those who think they may be eligible to contact either the council or the national business helpline depending on what scheme they are applying for.

“These schemes are welcome and fill some of the gaps from previous announcements. But it’s clear that the level of funding being made available won’t even scratch the surface of the economic losses business locally are suffering. I will continue to keep the pressure on both the UK and Scottish Governments to bring forward more support to minimise the devastating impact this pandemic is having on the local economy.”

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