Covid-19 Pandemic (Support for Businesses)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 17th December 2020.

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

6. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support businesses that are struggling to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic. (S5O-04870)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

Since the start of the crisis, we have invested more than £2.3 billion to support businesses across Scotland. We have allocated a further £570 million of support for business and the wider economy, which includes funding for the strategic framework business fund and the recently announced £185 million targeted support to help impacted businesses and sectors through the winter. The range of business help and support that is available can be found at the findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website.

Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

The reality is that the hospitality industry in Glasgow is on its knees and is suffering from the impact of the pandemic. Some businesses have not been open since March. The reality is that jobs will be lost and businesses will close. What direct discussions have taken place with representatives of the hospitality industry on support, and to consider limited lifting of some restrictions in order to avoid a wholesale loss of jobs?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I do not know whether Mr Kelly was listening to my answer to Ruth Maguire, in which I set out that ministers have engaged with business organisations on more than 780 occasions since March. I assure Mr Kelly that a significant amount of that activity has been dialogue with the hospitality industry, in particular. My colleague Fergus Ewing—the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism—and I have led in many of those discussions. We are very cognisant of the challenges that the sector faces and will continue to meet the sector to discuss what more can be done. Of course, as was announced just last week, additional support for the sector is being deployed. We will continue to look at what more we can do as we make our way through the pandemic.

Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

Information that has been released on support grant applications, which closed in July, shows that 15,000 applications are still outstanding. With that scale of backlog, does the minister have confidence that local authorities will be able to cope with distributing the recently announced new support schemes, in order to save businesses that are struggling to survive?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Minister, did you manage to hear that?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

Yes, I did, and the answer is yes, I do.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

He obviously heard it.

Question 7 has not been lodged.