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MSP calls for small businesses to be ‘top of the list’ for discretionary grants

By David Porter

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Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin is calling for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to be “top of the list” of those eligible for discretionary funding grants.

Aberdeenshire Council is expected to start grant distribution in the coming weeks.
Aberdeenshire Council is expected to start grant distribution in the coming weeks.

Ms Martin, who was self-employed for two decades before becoming an MSP, made the call as local authorities across Scotland consider which businesses will be eligible for funding.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced a £30million cash pot to be divided up between local authority areas.

Aberdeenshire Council received more than £1million to help provide financial support to firms impacted by Covid-19.

Applications are expected to open for grants of up to £2000 next month.

Now Ms Martin is calling on the local authorities in the North-east to ensure small and micro businesses are able to access cash.

The move comes ahead a debate which will be led in the Scottish Parliament later this month by the North-east MSP on the impact of the pandemic on women in Scotland.

A number of reports, including from the United Nations and The Lancet, have shown women and girls have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic as they take on more caring responsibilities while also trying to keep up with full-time jobs or run their businesses.

The majority of micro businesses are woman led.

A United Nations report on the impact of covid-19 published last year, showed women were taking on the burden of caring responsibilities for children and elderly relatives.

Figures published last year by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) showed that 15% of businesses are run by women in the UK – contributing a staggering £105million to the economy every year.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said: “We know businesses run by women contribute more than £100million to the UK economy and as a result of the coronavirus pandemic women have been disproportionately impacted by taking on both home schooling and caring responsibilities whilst also trying to keep businesses afloat.

“Any grants made accessible should take into account the very small businesses which May have been overlooked by past funding streams, might be run from home premises, and would hugely benefit from discretionary funding during these unprecedented times.

“The owners of these type of businesses can’t furlough themselves, and many will have had next to no income at all over this period.

“I would encourage Aberdeenshire Council and other local authorities across Scotland to consider how the discretionary funding can be utilised to help those who have had to keep small businesses afloat while managing the many other pressures as a result of Covid-19.”

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