The founder of a north-east soft play centre says a package of financial support from the Scottish Government does not go far enough.
The amount a business gets is based on their rateable value.
Owners and operators have been at the centre of repeated calls for funding for the soft play sector, where companies have not been able to open since March due to Covid-19 restrictions.
However, Becky Mennie, the founder of BECS – a charity in Inverurie which caters for children with additional support needs and their families – believes more long-term thinking is needed from the Scottish Government.
And she warned businesses would still face the threat of closure unless a long-term financial solution can be put in place.
Becky said: “It’s great they have finally woken up and provided some funding for soft plays but it’s not enough.
“It looks fantastic when they can say it’s ‘up to £50,000’ but the reality is most places won’t be eligible for that much.
“We are eligible for £25,000 and that just about covers what we have lost since we’ve been closed.
“Other businesses which have been open but have had to shut again can apply for funding every four weeks but we can’t because we’ve never been open.
“Some soft plays have had to completely shut. I might not have to now but all it does is buys us a bit more time.
“They need to be looking at the longer-term situation and making funding available which we can access every few weeks if we’re not able to open, like they have done with other businesses.”
She added: “We have had lots of families getting in touch with us asking when we’re going to be open again and begging us to be able to come down and it’s really hard to tell them ‘no’.
“It has a huge effect on the families we support because they haven’t got anywhere to take their kids, and it’s also affecting the other charities who send families to us.
“The whole community is feeling the effects of this.”
In addition to the funding, the Scottish Government has also revealed guidance is due later this week for when it is safe for soft plays to reopen.
Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “We know that nightclubs and soft play centres have been particularly badly hit by this pandemic – unlike the majority of businesses, they have not been allowed to open since March. These grants take account of those exceptional circumstances and will provide a boost as we continue to tackle the virus.
“We don’t want any business to remain closed for a day longer than is necessary but public health is paramount. Unfortunately, we are at a critical point with infection levels rising again and it is not safe to lift restrictions on these activities.
“Local authorities will be contacting businesses directly to get the information needed to progress their claim.”
Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Maureen Watt said: “In Aberdeen, a number of nightclubs have been badly affected by the restrictions due to Covid-19 and I hope that this funding will help them through these difficult times.
“Similarly, soft play centres across my constituency have been unable to open, and I am encouraged that the Local councils will be contacting both soft play centres and nightclubs directly to ensure that any funding is delivered quickly and efficiently helping to safe jobs and business that many rely on.”