Coronavirus: Chancellor’s Scotland visit to highlight business support

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Rishi Sunak is the fourth UK minister to visit Scotland in recent weeks

The chancellor is to visit Scotland later to highlight the benefits of UK government schemes for businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rishi Sunak said 65,000 businesses in Scotland had been supported through loan schemes, paying out £2bn.

Mr Sunak is the fourth UK minister to visit Scotland in recent weeks.

The Scottish government said the support was welcome but called for more borrowing powers to make up for a shortfall in UK investment in recovery.

The UK government’s bounce back loans scheme, which was announced in April, offers between £2,000 and 25% of the turnover of small and medium businesses.

The UK government also guarantees the loans, which have no interest for the first year, before the rate rises to 2.5% after 12 months.

Since the scheme started, the Treasury said 63,469 loans had been approved, totalling £1.8bn.

For the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, more than £587m has been paid out to date to businesses looking for up to £5m.

The UK government guarantees up to 80% of the loan and will pay interest and other fees inside the first year.

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The UK government said it had paid out £2bn to Scottish businesses

Ahead of his visit to Scotland, Mr Sunak said: “I’m proud that we have supported more than 65,000 businesses in Scotland through our loan schemes and we are committed to continuing to support them to bounce back and succeed through the measures set out in our Plan for Jobs.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the UK government was doing all it could to help Scotland’s economy.

“We are also supporting almost 900,000 jobs in Scotland through the pioneering furlough and self-employed schemes,” he said.

“This comes on top of an additional £6.5bn funding for the Scottish government to spend on public services and further support businesses in Scotland.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “This support is not new but is of course welcome – and it is right, given the Treasury’s borrowing powers, that they have acted in this way.

“However, it remains the case that the UK government’s investment in recovery falls short of the £80bn that is required, and that if we are to support economic recovery in Scotland we need the ability to borrow – in line with most other governments.

“As it stands, and with our limited current powers, we have delivered a much-needed package of support for the Scottish economy worth over £2.3bn and this includes our £185m Business Support Funds.”

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