Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th January 2021.

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The First Minister:

I know that today’s news is a blow for businesses; it is a blow for everybody. I do not make this point to sound unsympathetic to the plight of businesses or anybody else—because I am not, in any way—but things will be much worse if we do not take firm decisive action now to get the virus under control. We do not have to look too far to see how much worse things will get if we prevaricate now and delay taking necessary actions. That is why this is tough. I do not want to be standing here announcing restrictions, but they are necessary in order to avoid the situation deteriorating.

It is highly likely that businesses that have been waiting since July have not been eligible for the support that they applied for. In some circumstances, that will unfortunately be the case. A range of funding streams are already open, and businesses that are newly required to close will be able to apply for those. The strategic framework business fund is open now. There is also the local authority discretionary scheme which, as its title suggests, is discretionary so that local authorities can meet the needs of businesses that fall through the cracks of other schemes. It might be available to those who are not eligible for other support schemes. There are also a range of funding strands for different sectors of the economy.

Significant support is already available. I have said openly before that that will not compensate every business for every loss, but I encourage businesses to apply for all the support that they can. We will continue to look at what more we are able to do in the weeks ahead.