Aberdeen’s council leaders have written to the Scottish Government to highlight the “unfairness” of financial support packages agreed for businesses in the city.
The city’s hospitality sector has again been hit by the latest round of Covid-19 restrictions, with many opting to close rather than stay open while unable to trade as normal.
They are eligible for £2,155 in support from the Scottish Government.
However, in parts of the country where hospitality businesses have been forced to close by law, they are able to claim £5,970.
Aberdeen’s council administration leaders – Douglas Lumsden, Jenny Laing and Marie Boulton – have now penned a joint letter to economy secretary Fiona Hyslop calling on her to close the gap.
They wrote: “Businesses, by and large, have gone to extensive and expensive lengths to ensure they create an environment that is safe to enjoy while keeping their venues open, and staff employed.
“A pub, bar or restaurant in the central belt affected by the restrictions implemented at the start of this ‘circuit breaker’ is eligible for nearly £6,000 while in Aberdeen and elsewhere the figure is at a maximum of £2,200.
“The difference in support measures is irrational. We do not ask that our business community get more than those in the central belt, we ask for the same.
“Aberdeen’s businesses are the only ones which have suffered twice through statutory restrictions and now we find that businesses in Aberdeen who are struggling only to receive a fraction of what businesses get in the central belt despite paying the highest business rate Scottish government tax in Scotland.”
They added: “We need the Scottish Government to play fair we need a level playing field and we need the Scottish Government to recognise that Aberdeen businesses more than pay their share in helping fund the economy.”
Support for businesses not forced to close but “directly constrained” by the new tier system was announced by ministers yesterday.
Ms Hyslop said: “These are uncertain times for business and many will be concerned that the action necessary to protect public health will have a severe effect on their bottom line.
“We are determined to support businesses during this period and we will continue to listen to and engage with business leaders about the draft framework published today.
“We will make financial support available as levels are reviewed across the country and restrictions applied locally. We will continue to work with local authorities to ensure grants are made available quickly and efficiently.
“The support that we are providing is the maximum we can afford under our current powers and the resources available. We have matched the level of support available in England for larger businesses and our grants are more generous to smaller businesses.”