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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S5W-33904
Asked by: Miles Briggs, Lothian, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
Date lodged: 8 December 2020

Question

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to concerns that betting shops were not added to the specific categories of businesses entitled to COVID-19-related economic support, in light of other business types being specified, and for what reasons it made this decision.

Current status: Answered by Ben Macpherson on 22 December 2020


Answer

The Scottish Government recognises that this is an extremely difficult time for businesses across Scotland. From the outset we have been explicit that we are passing on to support business in Scotland every penny of the UK Government’s consequential funding that has come for business support to Scotland, and we have delivered a package of financial support to help as many businesses as possible. In designing the relief system we had to balance helping as many businesses as possible against affordability.

The non-domestic rates reliefs introduced in Scotland as a result of the COVID-19 disruption are set out in The Non-Domestic Rates (Coronavirus Reliefs) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, as amended. These may be accessed at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/101/contents/made .

In 2020-21, all non-domestic properties in Scotland will automatically benefit from a 1.6% rates relief, and a 100% relief is available for properties in the Retail, Hospitality, Leisure and Airport sectors that meet the qualifying purpose or purposes specified in the classes in schedule 1 of the regulations, as amended. Non-domestic rates are administered by local authorities, and the interpretation of the relevant legislation and the awarding of reliefs is a matter for them.

When the pandemic began, we moved rapidly to put in place a support package worth over £2.3 billion, including reliefs, to provide lifeline support to businesses enabling them to close down safely, and survive though the initial crisis, protecting jobs and livelihoods. We have since announced a further £570m of business support to help mitigate some of financial challenges facing businesses.

Betting shops may have been eligible for the £10,000 Small Business Grant Fund which was available for the ratepayers of properties in receipt of Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) relief or Rural relief, or eligible for SBBS but in receipt of certain other reliefs.

From 2 November the Strategic Framework Business Fund offers financial support for businesses required to close by law, or specifically required to modify their operations by law. Eligibility depends on where the premises are located and what level of restrictions are in place at any point in time.

Further, the Local Authority Discretionary Fund empowers local authorities to support businesses and self-employed people in their area who require additional financial support, including supply chain businesses impacted by restrictions. This fund is specifically designed to target businesses who have not received direct financial support through other Scottish Government schemes, and recognises the insight that councils have on the business community in their area and where funding would be most effectively deployed in supporting local economies. It is for Local authorities to use this fund at their discretion, and they will undertake their own assessment of need.

We continue to seek the funding and powers we require to support Scottish businesses through this pandemic and to engage with specific sectors who may face unique impacts and consider how best to provide help and support.