The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called on the SNP to deliver the business support they promised for those businesses affected by the restrictions they put in place in December. We appreciate how hard it has been for businesses in the last two years, which is why we forced a U-turn in early 2021 for continued relief for businesses on their rates.
However, we are not surprised the Scottish Government has failed to provide businesses with support. Throughout the pandemic, the SNP were repeatedly late in providing support for businesses, as well as a cluttered landscape of funding pots which made the process of securing support much harder for businesses which required quick and easily accessible help. This combined with the only three months of rates relief for 2022-3 when England and Wales are getting a full year is another example of the SNP’s hostility to business. Their disregard of business leaders was shown most clearly in the lack of time they gave for the implementation of new restrictions, and for businesses to adapt to it.
Neither is their neglect of local authorities in the process of distributing help a surprise. The SNP have repeatedly neglected local authorities both in funding, and in guidance over Covid funding. Some local authorities were unaware of some schemes, leading to certain businesses missing out on funding. This is while the SNP have been underfunding councils for years, leading to cuts to public services.
The most recent round of grants for December and January is a continuation of this poor performance by the government. Not only are they late in getting the funding out the door or providing guidance to local authorities, but some businesses, like hairdressers and beauty salons, have yet to be given any guidance on how to apply. This is despite restrictions having been already imposed and removed.
The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly held the government to account over their negligence towards businesses during the pandemic, particularly when it comes to passing on support provided by the UK Government. We will continue to do so for as long as they fail Scotland’s businesses.