Another lockdown will take 'huge toll' on businesses, warns FSB
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A Highland business leader has warned that another lockdown – even if short-lived – is "the last thing that businesses need".
David Richardson, Highlands and Islands development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Highland businesses will be praying that the Scottish Government does not introduce fresh restrictions at this delicate time – but, if it does, the restrictions must come with a package of measures to assist them to retain their staff and survive.”
He was speaking yesterday after the FSB in Scotland wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urging the Scottish Government to outline the support it will provide to firms when any new national or local coronavirus restrictions are announced.
Official figures show that one in 20 businesses remains shut in Scotland, and the federation is warning that new restrictions – however temporary – could increase the number of permanent closures.
The UK government detailed its standard grant package in the event of further lockdowns in early September.
Andrew McRae, the FSB Scotland policy chairman, said: “Ministers need to understand that new coronavirus restrictions will take a huge toll on Scotland’s small business community. Many Scottish independent firms’ reserves and credit lines are close to exhaustion.
“The bare minimum that those in business expect is for the Scottish Government to set out its new package of help at the same time as it details any new restrictions.”
The FSB has urged the Scottish Government to rebuild trust with the business community to mitigate the impact of the crisis.
Mr McRae added: “Up and down Scotland, many in business are incredibly stretched. Responsible local firms are knuckling down trying to balance the books while complying with the various coronavirus restrictions.
“However, days of unhelpful speculation regarding a new wholesale lockdown have harmed fragile business confidence and put new emotional strain on those that work for themselves. Ministers need the support of firms to tackle this crisis – action is required to rebuild trust between government and business.”
Mr Richardson said: “FSB research agrees with that undertaken by Highlands and Islands Enterprise that this region is more vulnerable economically to the damage caused by the coronavirus than any other part of Scotland.
"This is due in part to our dependency on tourism and hospitality. After no more than three months’ trading, the last thing that businesses need is another lockdown, however short.
"Should this happen at this time, with only three weeks of the 2020 season left, it will greatly impede the ability of many businesses to survive the winter, with serious and lasting consequences for the wider economy, local employment, and the quality of life that we all enjoy."