£40m business fund opens

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A £40 million fund to support businesses impacted by tougher Covid restrictions in Scotland opens to applications next week.

The fund from the Scottish Government will be overseen by local councils with details available on their websites from 9am on Tuesday October 20.

Applications will close on Tuesday November 3.

A Covid-19 restrictions fund will be limited to hospitality and other businesses required to close from October 9. The fund aims to help those businesses based across the five different health boards in the central belt.

At the same time, a ‘discretionary’ business hardship fund – with payments of up to £1,500 – will also be offered for businesses affected by the October 9 restrictions, it said.

Those saw pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes across Scotland told to operate indoors on a ‘very restricted basis’, effectively amounting to a ban on serving alcohol indoors.

The business hardship fund aims to support businesses which remain open but are ‘directly’ impacted, including those in the supply chain.

Applicants must be from hospitality businesses or some gyms which are required by the regulations to operate in a restricted way as of October 9.

The rules include that they must be a producer/wholesale business based in Scotland supplying primarily short-life goods or produce to hospitality businesses required by the regulations to close or operate in a restricted way.

Applicants must able to evidence a 25 per cent reduction in turnover, the rules state.

Regardless of the number of premises in any business, the maximum any one business can receive will be restricted, it said.

The Scottish Government said it is working with local councils to finalise the arrangements.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘I would encourage all eligible businesses who need support to apply. Many businesses are being required to take drastic action to help us to tackle Covid so it is essential we take significant action to help them too.’

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, commented: ‘Speed and cash out the door is critical if we are to have any chance of saving jobs.

‘It will have been 10 days from when we were forced to close and send our employees home that this support will be available.’

Further details are at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions-fund