Murdo Fraser MSP has called on the Scottish Government to do more to support businesses across Perth and Kinross which have been affected by a loss of trade as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
The area is currently in Tier 3, which means that many businesses can still operate. However, because of wider restrictions, many have seen a collapse in business. One example of this is in self-catering holiday lets, where operators are legally entitled to continue to trade, but the travel restrictions that have been applied mean that business has all but disappeared, with substantial cancellations for the coming months.
These businesses are not entitled to the levels of support available in Tier 4 areas. The Scottish Government announced this week a new discretionary fund for local authorities worth £30 million, but details of this are still awaited.
Mr Fraser, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, raised his concerns in a meeting with the Scottish Government Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop earlier this week.
He commented: “I have been contacted by many businesses across Perth and Kinross suffering serious losses at the present time due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Whist they are legally able to remain trading, in reality their business has all but disappeared.
“Problems are particularly acute in the tourism and hospitality sector, where self-catering accommodation providers have seen a collapse in bookings due to the travel restrictions that have been introduced. In addition, suppliers in the food and events sector, and associated businesses such as taxis, have been seriously impacted.
“Yet these businesses have not seen the same level of support going to those which have been forced to close.”
Mr Fraser continued: “I raised with Fiona Hyslop the need for financial support for suffering businesses across Perth and Kinross, otherwise we are going to see real hardship and business failures, with consequential job losses. The Scottish Government has announced that they will be giving local authorities £30 million to set up discretionary funding schemes, and while this is welcome I am concerned that this will come nowhere close to what is required to meet the need. It is also likely to be another week before details of this scheme will be announced.
“Over the last few weeks, the UK Government have given the Scottish Government an additional £1.7 billion to spend on Covid-related measures - it is essential that the SNP Government do not sit on this money but get it paid out to those in need as quickly as possible.”