Scottish Grocers Federation is putting the Scottish government under pressure to reconsider the decision to close the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Schemes for new applications on 10th July 2020.
In a strongly worded letter to the Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, SGF emphasised the importance of the continued availability of these business support grants for retailers.
Commenting on the matter SGF chief executive Dr Pete Cheema OBE said,
“I have written to the Cabinet Secretary to seek a meeting with her as we are dismayed at this decision to curtail the application period for the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes. There does not seem to have been any consultation with businesses and other key stakeholders. At no time were we advised about this matter and the impending decision that was to be made.
Convenience store retailers are essentially working extended hours, seven days a week, in order to play their part in ensuring a consistent supply of essential groceries and to continue to provide vital services to our communities through Covid-19. Given these pressures, many of them will simply not have had the time yet to apply for these vital business support grants.
The Scottish government must extend the deadline to 31st December this year or to revert back to the original closing date of 31st March 2021.
Reducing the time available to apply for a grant puts Scottish businesses at a severe disadvantage from those in the rest of the UK, where the deadline remains at 31st March 2021.”
The Scottish government have stated that new applications for the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes have slowed in recent weeks as large numbers of businesses have already applied. They state that it will mean that any remaining money can be re-routed to help businesses in “other ways.”