The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is backing new measures by the Scottish government to help limit the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced the following steps - totalling £320 million - would be put in place during the 2020-21 financial year:
- A 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from April 1, 2020
- An £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19
- 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from April 1, 2020
- A fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from April 1, 2020.
Ms Forbes will also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period. Last week, Bira urged Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow England's the measures to support businesses announced in the Budget.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira's CEO, said: "This a common sense move. We asked the Scottish government to follow the measures set out in England and they listened. Any support which can be given to small retail businesses at this challenging time gets our full support."
Forbes said: “COVID-19 will have challenging implications for businesses and the economy over the coming weeks and months.
“As well as following the latest health and travel advice, it’s also crucial we consider the latest economic analysis and listen carefully to what the business community is telling us. We know that the tourism and hospitality sectors are facing immediate pressure, which is why we have directed support to them in particular."
“Businesses receiving support are being encouraged to operate with fair work principles including supporting staff to self-isolate when they need to and if they have caring responsibilities and to consider keeping staff in employment where at all possible.
“We continue to work closely with our partners to identify what further support is needed and I’d encourage any businesses with questions relating to the impact of COVID-19 to contact the helpline we launched this week.”