Moray MP Douglas Ross challenged the First Minister in Tuesday's Covid update to guarantee that emergency grants would urgently reach businesses crippled by the new Covid restrictions. He pointed out that while limiting the spread of Omicron was paramount, these measures would further hit a hospitality sector already on its knees. Businesses needed to know exactly when they could expect to receive financial support from the Scottish Government, now the UK Government had made £440 million of funding available.
On Monday, David Phillips of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said: “A ‘funding advance’ for funding that may come down the line is still extra now”.
But the First Minister would not be drawn on a timescale for grants being issued, saying only that they would be sent out “as quickly as possible”.
Douglas said “The £440 million provided by the UK Government for business support was far higher than the Scottish Government had been expecting, and that the First Minister’s public complaints over Treasury funding during the last week were both unjustified and an unnecessary distraction.
“The Scottish Government has funding available - My ‘In Box’ is full of concerns from Moray businesses engaged in the hospitality industry or in the associated industries and they are crying out for help now. I am sure these pleas are replicated across Scotland.
“We need to know when the first grants will start to reach businesses – Local authorities need to know and it really should be before Christmas.
“It’s unacceptable that small businesses may be left waiting until the New Year to get this vital funding. Constituents who have small businesses here in Moray tell me that the funding could be the difference between them surviving or not.
“It’s also absolutely crucial that we see the Scottish and UK Governments working together constructively, fully focused on tackling Omicron.
“Instead, over the last week, we have seen an unnecessary funding row that is a distraction from the task at hand.
“The Scottish Government have been provided with £440 million, far more than they asked for and, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies have made clear, it's new money from the UK Government.
“The SNP must stop the political games and focus on getting the funding out the door to protect Scottish jobs and businesses.”