The Scottish Government has announced drastic measures to pump nearly £2bn into businesses to keep them afloat during the coronavirus outbreak, mirroring the economic package set out by the Chancellor.
Scottish ministers are treating the impact of Covid-19 as an “economic emergency” and say “every penny” of money sent to Scotland as a result of the UK Government’s stimulus package will support Scots businesses and employers.
Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop laid out for MSPs on Wednesday the plan for a £1.9bn package of loans, grants and tax relief for Scottish firms, but called on the UK Government to pledge more to support individuals and families.
She confirmed the smallest firms receiving the small business bonus or rural relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant to support them through coronavirus-related disruption.
Replicating policies announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday, Hyslop also vowed to give 12 months of business rates relief to companies in the vulnerable hospitality, leisure and retail sectors.
In addition, buildings in those sectors with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000 will be eligible for grants of up to £25,000 to help them stay afloat.
The economy secretary said the Scottish Government aims to keep companies in business, maintain employment levels, provide income support and ensure staff are supported if they need to self-isolate or provide care to loves ones.
And she called on UK ministers to go further to reduce cost pressures on businesses by tax holidays such as PAYE breaks, VAT reduction and the suspension of the apprenticeship levy.
Hyslop also told MSPs the government was looking at temporarily “loosening” business regulations to support firms and staff, with one potential example being to allow all venues serving food and drink to function on a takeaway and delivery basis.
The economy secretary further announced the introduction of a deposit return scheme for bottles would be delayed, as would plans to give councils the power to levy a so-called “tourist tax”.