Scotland – Finance Secretary Kate Forbes will offer help for taxi drivers and services such as those in the weddings industry when she outlines how she will spend a new round of funding from the UK government.
Ms Forbes is allocating £1.8 billion of new money from the Treasury and is expected to include some businesses left out in previous rounds.
Business leaders also want her to state how she intends to redistribute rates relief repaid by supermarket chains and other firms.
They have paid back £2 billion to the Treasury and the Federation of Small Businesses estimates Scotland’s share to be about £190m.
A number of requests have come from pubs and restaurants, as well as groups such as freelances who have yet to receive any support from government.
The FSB says Ms Forbes should use the money to introduce a voucher scheme, following the example of the Northern Ireland Executive to boost the local economy. The Scottish Retail Consortium has also called for such a scheme to be introduced in Scotland.
FSB’s policy chairman for Scotland Andrew McRae said: “The big [retail] chains that have handed back unneeded rates reliefs deserve plaudits for doing the right thing.
“Now Ministers in Edinburgh need to use this windfall cash to boost the Scottish small businesses that have been hit hardest by this pandemic.”
The FSB also expressed frustration that the £30m fund that the First Minister announced in mid-November is not yet open to applications in any Scottish local authority.
Ms Forbes will set out plans to distribute consequentials arising from the additional funding announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
It covers areas including health, transport and business support, accounting for all but £330 million of the new funding. The remainder will be used to meet further urgent demands relating to both COVID-19 and Brexit up to the end of March 2021.
Ms Forbes said: “This latest round will deliver measures such as the COVID-19 vaccination programme, local business support packages and free school meals over the holidays.
“The UK Treasury has indicated that this funding covers the period up to March 2021, so I have allocated £330 million as a contingency to ensure we are in a position to provide further support to health and businesses, including for issues arising from Brexit, as it is required over the coming months.”
The latest COVID-19 consequentials bring the total received by the Scottish Government to £8.2 billion.
A further update on COVID-19 spending will be provided through the Spring Budget Revision in the New Year.
Tory Economy spokesman Maurice Golden will lead a debate in Holyrood today calling for business rates relief to be extended into 2021-22.
It follows a demand last week from Tory leader Douglas Ross following his discussions with business leaders.
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The proposal to continue with rates relief for retailers into 2021-22 would be incredibly helpful.
“Without relief shops face an abrupt ‘reverse cliff edge’ next April, with the 100% re-instatement of business rates.
“The fact remains that revenues and costs continue to be out of kilter and returning to a business rate poundage at a 21-year high will be unsustainable for many stores.
“With firms continuing to be under enormous pressure, early clarity on next year’s costs is urgently needed to allow retailers to plan ahead.”