Warning to keep small firms ‘in the game’

Scotland can’t afford to lose any more of the small firms that will be “crucial” in rebuilding the economy next year, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned. 

FSB Scotland policy chair Andrew McRae said the Omicron variant of Covid has “pulled the rug from us” just when it looked as though economic recovery was getting underway. New rules curtailing large gatherings and sporting events will have inevitable knock-on consequences for local and independent firms. 

“As restrictions have eased, the re-opening of businesses like childcare providers, hairdressers, eateries and shops demonstrated just how vital these firms are to the success of our towns, cities and local economies,” Mr McRae said.

READ MORE: Sturgeon’s new Covid restrictions make trading ‘drastically more difficult’ for businesses

“But to play their part, small businesses need to be still in the game. Sadly, official figures show there are now 20,000 fewer Scottish enterprises than there were at the start of the crisis. We can’t see more of the very businesses we are relying on to trade us into a happier new year fail due to circumstances way beyond their control.” 

With new restrictions set to take effect in Scotland from Sunday and Monday, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has meanwhile reiterated its call to scrap the cap on business rates relief for larger retail and hospitality businesses. 

Finance minister Kate Forbes announced earlier this month that the Scottish Government will extend rates relief – designed to support firms through the Covid crisis – for three months from the start of the new fiscal year on April 6. However, relief has been cut by half to a maximum of 50 per cent, and is capped at £27,500 per rate payer. 

“It was apparent at the time the Scottish Budget did not go far enough for retailers or consumers,” SRC director David Lonsdale said. “With businesses now being stricken further following a series of government Covid announcements, the budget should be revisited and more support put in place for struggling shopkeepers.” 

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