Businesses have received less than half of the grant funding budgeted for by the Scottish Government, new figures show.
The Government has announced it is making £1.2bn available for business grants during the coronavirus crisis, and so far £526m has been released to 45,387 Scottish firms.
A total of 74,216 grant applications have been received by councils, according to evidence given to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland warned some councils are processing applications much faster than others and it urged local authorities and the Scottish Government to develop a consistent approach.
Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “This data shows an additional £300m has reached firms in the last fortnight. That’s the most important thing when this money could make the difference for operators up and down Scotland.
“But less than half of the money allocated towards grants has got to businesses. And these figures show that some councils are getting this lifeline funding distributed far faster than others.
“When ministers originally promised a ten-day turnaround for this cash, you can understand the frustration of some smaller Scottish businesses who are running out of road.
“It isn’t good enough for some councils to have hundreds or even thousands of local businesses waiting for their grant to process.
“Therefore we need to see councils and the Scottish Government redouble their efforts and deliver a speedier, more consistent approach across the country.
“In addition, policymakers need to take a more proactive approach to ensure that everyone in need of a grant receives one.
“For example, what steps are ministers taking to ensure migrant entrepreneurs get the help they might need?
“While many businesses are thankful for the help they’re being offered, there’s obviously a huge amount of work required to ensure Scottish businesses get this lifeline help before it is too late.”
However, the FSB welcomed a new £100m package of additional grants for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) announced by the Scottish Government last week.
The three separate funds include a £34m hardship fund for the newly self-employed, a £20m fund for small firms in the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors, and £45m for viable but vulnerable SMEs deemed crucial to the Scottish economy.
Mr McRae added: “This new package is another important piece in the jigsaw of support required to minimise the economic impact of this crisis.
“It makes sense to provide extra help for our tourism, hospitality and creative firms who look unlikely to be reopening in the short-term. And we’ve heard from people who started working for themselves in the last few months who are in dire straits.
“We now need ministers to look into specific help for home-based and vehicle-based operators.”
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