Small businesses in Scotland with more than one outlet will qualify for further financial support from the Scottish Government, after ministers backed down on a key restriction to the Small Business Grant scheme.

The limiting of the scheme, which is intended to help cushion the impact of the loss of business during the coronavirus shutdown, to a £25,000 grant per business, irrespective of the number of outlets has met with strong protests from business, with many warning that they would not survive with such a limit. In England & Wales a separate grant can be claimed for each business outlet.

Ministers had defended their position because they wanted to enable funding also for micro-businesses, which qualify for a £10,000 grant, claiming there are many more such businesses in Scotland. But today Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced a further package including a £120m extension of the scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business ratepayers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.

A further £100m fund is also being made available to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses in distress due to COVID. "This fund will be channelled through local authorities and enterprise agencies to target newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish Government or UK Government schemes", the Government said.  

Applications for the £100m fund will be open by the end of this month, and the new arrangements for the Small Business Grant will be in place to receive applications on 5 May.

Ms Forbes claimed: "Our support for business now exceeds the £2.2bn passed on from the UK Government and actively works to fill the gaps in the UK schemes.

"Around 100,000 businesses in total are already eligible for our small business grants and from today we will be extending that scheme in response to feedback from businesses on the frontline of this economic crisis."