Report highlights scale and speed of Covid business support
Over £4.5 billion of funding given to businesses, helping safeguard jobs, since the start of the pandemic.
A report published by Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission has highlighted the scale and pace of the emergency business support from the Scottish Government in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The report highlights how the Scottish Government was able to maintain clear priorities of targeting support at businesses that needed it most and helping them survive, protecting thousands of jobs across the country as well as supporting businesses to encourage compliance with the necessary public health restrictions.
The report recognises the robust operational delivery of councils in Scotland, drawing on systems and capability that existed pre-Covid to deliver support quickly and safely, and minimising the opportunity for fraud.
The report also acknowledges the tailored support provided to ensure businesses, large and small, had access to vital lifelines. This included the launch of bespoke grants which have supported over 4,000 businesses and over 5,000 self-employed who were facing hardship but ineligible for UK support.
Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission also say that despite a period of unprecedented challenges, the Scottish Government was able to take continuous steps to improve how business support funds were managed after the initial funds were launched, working with delivery partners and businesses to identify and address issues and gaps.
The report further acknowledges the longer-term commitments the Scottish Government has made to support economic recovery. This includes the publication of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation which aims to drive Scotland’s economic transformation as the country recovers from COVID-19.
Responding to the Audit Scotland report, Economy Secretary Kate Forbes yesterday said:
“I am pleased that both Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission have recognised how quickly the Scottish Government was able to establish a wide ranging business support package in order to help safeguard thousands of businesses and jobs. This includes providing direct support to over 4,000 businesses and over 5,000 self-employed people who were facing hardship but ineligible for UK Government funding support.
“I am equally pleased this report reflects the unique and challenging context in which new support packages had to be established, and that despite the speed and scale of our response, we were able to work closely with industry, our enterprise agencies and local authorities. This helped to ensure the delivery of the business support funding was a shared endeavour and minimised risk and fraud. Without the efforts of our partners, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver this lifeline support at the scale and pace necessary and I thank them for working so closely with us.
“Every decision the Scottish Government has taken has centred around ensuring businesses got the support they needed when they needed it – resulting in over £4.5 billion being allocated to businesses across the country, including around £1.6 billion in rates relief – which is more generous than the other UK administrations so far.
“We will now carefully consider the findings of this report and of course any lessons will be learned, but fundamentally this report shows the decisions we took ensured lifeline support reached key businesses promptly and our economy continued to grow by 7.1% despite the necessary public health restrictions.”
Scotland’s economy is estimated to have grown by 7.1 per cent over the year (September 2020 to September 2021, Q3-Q3). Over the same period UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 6.6 per cent.
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