A north-east MP has said the support the UK Government has given businesses in the region is “hugely welcome”.
Figures have revealed that the UK Government offered firms almost a quarter of a billion pounds in Covid-19 support, through Bounce Back loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie has welcomed the figures, which show that in the north-east, a total of 5,775 loans were distributed, totalling £170m.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme allows smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the pandemic, and allows small and medium-sized firms to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover, with a maximum loan of £50,000 available.
In addition, a further £73m was given out to a further 279 companies under coronavirus business interruption loans.
The Business Interruption Loan Scheme also provides financial support to small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance, up to the value of £5 million.
Under the scheme, the Government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender, and pays interest and any fees on the loan for the first 12 months.
Across Scotland, the HM Treasury has given out £2.9 billion worth of loans, benefiting around 79,000 businesses.
Scottish Conservative MP Mr Bowie said: “This support for businesses across the north-east from the UK Government is hugely welcome.
“It once again shows how the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has stepped up and supported jobs and livelihoods right across Scotland.
“Hundreds of businesses have been supported through this pandemic, thanks to the UK Government.
“They have shown their plan to protect jobs and livelihoods across Scotland.
“Now, we must see the same urgency from the SNP – where is their support for businesses in the north-east?”
The Scottish Government has also given out more than £60m in grants to north-east businesses to support them during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Aberdeen, a total of 2,370 grants were awarded, totalling around £28,840,000.
In Aberdeenshire, 3,857 grants were given out, to the value of £43,100,000.
The Scottish Government has also offered grants under the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Find, the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund and the Bed and Breakfasts Hardship Fund.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have developed a funding plan which will help this funding reach businesses as quickly as possible to protect jobs over this two-week break period and we encourage business owners to apply for support.
“Grants will be provided to businesses required to close by law, as well as to some businesses which have seen a reduction in trade but can still legally open.
“We are also committed to helping businesses meet their contribution to furlough costs, where staff have to be re-furloughed. We have increased the size of the grant available and are urgently identifying a mechanism to deliver additional support on top of that.”
“Despite repeated requests for clarity, the Treasury has not provided the Scottish Government with a breakdown of the funding they have provided, so we have to assume that this funding will be required to cover all devolved expenditure until the end of this financial year.
“This includes costs of the public health response and supporting transport as a result of Covid-19.
“We have been clear that in order to manage the impact of COVID-19 as flexibly and quickly as possible, that we require further fiscal powers or further certainty on additional funding support based on further measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Despite this uncertainty we are providing grants of at least equivalent amounts to those offered by the UK Government.
“The temporary restrictions announced by the First Minister are absolutely essential if we are to prevent a return to the dangerous level of infections that we experienced earlier this year.
“It is a difficult balance and we do not underestimate the challenge that these new measures present for businesses – particularly those in the hospitality sector.”