Ruth Maguire MSP today welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government that a £34 million hardship fund will be made open to applications from newly self-employed people.

The announcement is part of a £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Grants will begin to be paid out in early May.

The MSP for Cunninghame South said: “Those who had recently become self employed were among the more financially precarious group as a result of the country coming to a standstill under lockdown.

“The grant support offered will help to ensure that those who were not able to apply to the UK Government’s support package will not be left behind.”

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our economy has been hit hard by this crisis and previously profitable businesses have seen demand dry up overnight. Our support will help alleviate the hardship those individuals and companies are facing.

“I am particularly pleased that we will be able to help the newly self-employed who do not qualify for the UK’s scheme and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We also recognise the particular impact of COVID-19 on our creative, tourism and hospitality sectors at what would normally be their busiest period. This fund is intended to relieve the hardship of smaller firms that are ineligible for other forms of support.

“As well as dealing with this immediate crisis, we must look to the future. We must ensure that viable and vital businesses in all sectors with a part to play in strengthening the resilience of Scotland’s economy survive this crisis and thrive in future, which is why £45 million is being allocated to support those firms.

“We continue to engage with businesses on a regular basis to understand their needs and press the UK Government to deliver for them.”

Applicants can access these funds and more via the Find Business Support website.

The funds which make up the £100 million support package are as follows:

£34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, managed by Local Authorities, will be allocated to the newly self-employed who are ineligible for UK support (as they became self-employed since April 2019) but are facing hardship with £2,000 grants

£20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies with support from Creative Scotland and VisitScotland for small and micro creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of business rates relief with grants of up to £25K.

£45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies providing bespoke grants and wrap around business support to viable but vulnerable SMEs who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland

The Scottish Government is also providing £1 million to top up Creative Scotland’s Bridging Bursaries in the not-for-profit sector.