Hospitality businesses which were forced to close during Aberdeen’s local lockdown are in line for an extra funding boost.
Bars and restaurants were made to shut their doors in August when spiralling cases of Covid-19 led to a three-week lockdown in the city.
At the time, Scottish Government ministers made grants of £1,000 and £1,500 available, depending on the rateable value of the business.
However, ministers have now confirmed affected venues will be able to receive double the amount initially provided.
The announcement came after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced businesses in the Central Belt, which is subject to stricter measures, would receive up to £3,000.
Firms which received funding previously will be paid automatically. However, those which are eligible but have not yet applied must do so by 5pm on Monday.
The funding top-up, which came following pressure from Aberdeen City Council co-leaders Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing, will bring the financial support given to businesses in Aberdeen in line with those in other parts of the country.
Ms Laing said: “After lobbying the First Minister on behalf of the hospitality industry in Aberdeen I am delighted that the Scottish Government has now agreed to increase the business grant for those hospitality businesses affected by the statutory lockdown from £1,500 to £3,000.
“It was disgraceful that Aberdeen businesses were being treated differently to those in Glasgow and it is only right that these grants have now been increased”.
Ms Laing added: “Hospitality businesses who have already applied and received £1,000 or £1,500 will automatically receive the additional funding but I would encourage any eligible businesses who are yet to submit an application to do so by the 19th October deadline date.”
Mr Lumsden said: “I’m glad the Scottish Government has seen sense and agreed to increase the threshold to £3,000. What matters now is that all businesses which are eligible, those hospitality businesses affected by the local lockdown, apply by Monday 19th October.”
News of the top-up was welcomed by industry leaders in the north-east.
Stuart McPhee, the owner of Siberia on Belmont Street and spokesman for the industry body Aberdeen Hospitality Together (AHT), said it could ensure staff have jobs to return to.
He said: “Similar businesses in other parts of Scotland were going to be closed for a comparable amount of time to those in Aberdeen, yet would have received 50% more funding, so it is good that gap has been closed.
“Trading conditions are hard given the conditions we are facing so any support we are given is very welcome.
“From November we will be able to access the new local lockdown support scheme, but until that comes in this will help keep staff on and get suppliers paid if it’s needed.
“It’s a very welcome move.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We fully appreciate how difficult it has been for the hospitality sector, which is why we are doing everything with the powers we have to help businesses in Aberdeen and across Scotland.
“In August we confirmed £1 million funding directly to Aberdeen City Council to administer and provide one-off grants to hospitality businesses directly and indirectly impacted by the local restrictions.
“Given that Aberdeen City Council has so far yet to allocate all of the funds, we were happy to provide flexibility on the level of grants. Administration of the fund is a matter for the council.”