By far the biggest issue in my mailbox since the start of the pandemic has been individuals and businesses contacting about COVID-19 support packages.
We all understand the need for strong public health measures to combat the pandemic but this must be accompanied by financial support for businesses and individuals. We cannot mandate people to stop working, or take decisions which decimate their customer base without compensating them.
Many constituents who are contacting me have been left out of both UK and Scottish Government support packages. I continue to believe that both governments have been slow and sometimes unwilling to fix the very many gaps in the support packages. This is unacceptable and I will continue to highlight these cases where I can. I also appreciate that while there are a lot of schemes, the support is inadequate and the eligibility criteria leave too many ineligible.
Please see below list of Scottish Government schemes administered by the City of Edinburgh Council:
- Taxi and Private Hire Fund
- Creative Freelancer Hardship Fund
- Museums Recovery and Resilience Fund Top up
- Travelling Show People Support Fund
- Culture Collective Fund
- Youth Arts Access Fund
- Creative Communities
- Sector and Destination Operational and Market Readiness fund
- Scotland Pivotal Event Business Fund
Targeted Funds going live before the end of January are:
- Mobile Close Contact Services Support Fund including driving instructors and hairdressers
- Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund
- Outdoor Tourism Sector Recommissioning Fund
- Travel Agents Fund
- Wedding Sector Support Fund
- Events Industry Support Fund
- Grassroots Music Venue Stabilisation Fund
- Brewer Support Fund
- Indoor Football Centres Fund
Targeted Funds going live in February:
- Tour Operators Fund
- Visitor Attractions Fund
- Ski Centre Support Fund
- Visitor Accommodation Hostels Fund
- Large (7 or more guests) Self-Catering Grant
- Exclusive Use Grant Self-Catering
More information is available at:www.edinburgh.gov.uk
My own view is that there is often a justified campaign by sectors and individuals who have been left out, seeking support. The Scottish Government then responds to that by offering a fund and launching it with fanfare but that fund delivers a “pittance” and the criteria is drawn in such a way as to exclude many of the businesses and individuals that need it the most. The taxi drivers and B&Bs are prime examples of this.
The Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde has estimated that there is £800m of unused and unallocated COVID-19 support and relief funds provided by the UK Government to be used by the Scottish Government. I will continue to call on them to utilise every penny immediately.