Grant’s exasperation as Ministers punt same response on access to Covid funding

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has said she is becoming ‘increasingly exasperated’ that her repeated pleas to the Scottish Government to listen to the concerns of local business over the stringent eligibility criteria in place for sectoral funding continue to fall on deaf ears.

Mrs Grant raised the matter twice this week, with the First Minister (for the second time), and with the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, Aileen Campbell, during Topical Questions in Parliament today (03/03/2021).

She asked the Cabinet Secretary what discussions the Scottish Government has had regarding changing the ring fence criteria concerning the sectoral funds which are distributed by local authorities and appealed for the Cabinet Secretary to listen to the pleas from business, some of whom are paying off staff as they can no longer afford to keep them on.

Speaking afterwards Mrs Grant said “It is becoming increasingly exasperating to receive the same stock answer time and time again from Scottish Ministers that they are listening and funding is in place.

“They continue to punt the discretionary funding that has been made available to local authorities to catch those who don’t qualify for sectoral grants but in Highland, the amount available per business from the discretionary funding is capped at £2,000 per business.

She continued “£2,000 is not going to save these businesses and I know owners are having sleepless nights as they prepare to pay staff off. This is heartbreaking on so many levels, for the owners who are watching their dreams disappear, for the staff who are losing their jobs, and for the Highland economy which is so reliant on tourism for its existence.

“The Government says it is listening to local authorities, and to business, but I’m not seeing much evidence of that from my inbox.”