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More than £5 million paid out to support north-east businesses through the Discretionary Business Fund

By David Porter

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Aberdeenshire Council has paid out £5,118,000 to a total of 976 businesses through its Discretionary Business Fund.

The majority of funding was allocated to smaller business – 424 owner/operator firms with no employees receiving a total of £1,696,000 and 461 with one to nine employees getting £2,766,000.

The fund has provided critical assistance during the Covid pandemic with the aim of mitigating the short-term financial challenges being experienced by local firms.

It was established to support local businesses through lockdown and to help put them in the best possible position to reopen and recover once restrictions were lifted.

Almost 1000 Aberdeenshire business previously excluded from various other schemes applied to the phased Discretionary Business Fund.

Phase 2 extended the eligibility criteria to include new start business and those employing between 51-250 staff which enabled the council to provide a lifeline to some businesses which would otherwise not have been eligible.

Councillor Peter Argyle
Councillor Peter Argyle

Commenting on the success of the fund, councillor Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s infrastructure services committee, said: “The issuing of more than £5 million to around 1000 businesses across Aberdeenshire in such a short space of time is an impressive achievement and I am hugely proud of our role in providing the business sector with the financial help it so desperately requires.

“There can be no doubt that the Discretionary Business Fund has been a critical source of financial support for businesses - many of which continue to face massive challenges on a day-to-day basis – and on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council I wish them all a speedy recovery as we emerge from the Covid restrictions.”

Vice-chair John Cox added: “Processing such a significant fund has been a real challenge for the authority, and we would like to thank all our officers from Economic Development and Finance services who worked tirelessly over many months to process the thousands of funding applications we have received to get the funding out quickly to support our business community.”

David Groundwater of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “Across the north east, the coronavirus crisis has put real pressure on businesses and our local economies. FSB has been pleased to work with Aberdeenshire Council, as well as central government, to ensure as many firms and self-employed as possible get the financial help required to get them through the pandemic.

“The focus has rightly been on getting support to the very smallest of the firms across Aberdeenshire, the very firms who are unlikely to have the cash reserves of the largest operators. FSB looks forward to continuing to work with Aberdeenshire council to ensure we not only retain the business base across the north east but that we also see it grow.”

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