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Covid-19 (Economy)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

I begin by reiterating what Jackson Carlaw said yesterday about support from Conservative members for the Scottish Government’s general approach the coronavirus crisis, and I restate the Scottish Conservatives’ support for the First Minister and her Government as they respond to the emergency. That is especially the case when it comes to the economy and assisting not only Scotland’s business community but Scotland’s workers, wherever they may be.

Last night, the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled a substantial package of measures to assist business, including £1.9 billion for the Scottish Government. I acknowledge and welcome the fact that the First Minister has confirmed that every penny of that will be spent on business support.

Some of the actions that have been outlined are applicable UK-wide and others are not. Given that a range of businesses in England will now have, in effect, 100 per cent rates relief, many businesses in Scotland expected the same assistance, so I was pleased and grateful to hear the cabinet secretary confirm that the Scottish Government will adopt an identical approach and will replicate the UK package.

I listened carefully to what the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture said about the helpline, and would like to ask a question of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance. Can she tell us about the mechanics of accessing support, given the need for the process to be fast and straightforward? Businesses large and small urgently want to know whether they are eligible for support, and they want to know how, where and when they will be able to access it. Can the Cabinet Secretary for Finance give more details on that?