On the First Minister’s speech today outlining the outcomes of the second review of the Covid-19 Strategic Framework, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“The economy has been dealt another blow today. Returning to lockdown makes Christmas an increasingly bleak prospect, particularly for those people and their families whose jobs rely on businesses being able to trade. Several sectors have faced damaging loss of trade and are failing to make a return on investment.
“Businesses have done their utmost and have stuck with it through initial lockdowns and restrictions. They are now running on fumes. They have invested significantly to ensure they’re operating safely and can rightly feel aggrieved that commitments on test & trace which are supposed to be another key method of reducing the harm both the virus and the lockdowns have so far fallen short.
“Stimulus will be needed to avoid permanent damage to the economy and the prospects of many who are set to lose their jobs. Furlough is a help but no panacea. Grants currently available in Scotland of around £1,500 do not scratch the surface. We must see levels more like in the first stages of lockdown with cash grants available more in the range of £10,000 or £25,000 depending on severity and need. We welcome the money allocated to the discretionary fund and for the self-employed and we look forward to further detail and assurance that it will be issued as quickly as possible.
“An holistic approach must address other overheads. Scottish Government should be suspending all rate payments for businesses that must shut their doors and should consider making this the same across all areas of Scotland.
“We must do everything we can to ensure their tanks don’t run empty.”