The SNP has ramped up pressure on the Tory government to urgently strengthen financial support to protect businesses and jobs, after the Federation of Small Businesses issued a stark warning that around a quarter of a million small businesses could be forced to close this year due to a lack of government support.
In a survey of 1,400 small firms, 5% stated that they expected to pull down their shutters this year. If replicated across the UK, the figures would mean around 250,00 firms closing down if the Tory government continued to sit on its hands.
Mike Cherry, the FSB’s national chairman, said: “The development of business support measures has not kept pace with intensifying restrictions.”
“Company directors, the newly self-employed, those in supply chains and those without commercial premises are still being left out in the cold,” he added.
Over the course of the pandemic the SNP has repeatedly pressed the Prime Minister and Chancellor to –
- Introduce a fiscal stimulus package of at least £98bn – on par with recovery support provided by other countries such as New Zealand, France and Germany,
- Extend the furlough scheme and other coronavirus income support schemes for as long as necessary, and deliver support for the three million excluded,
- Make the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits,
- And, devolve key financial powers to Holyrood so that the Scottish Government can take the necessary steps to protect jobs and people’s livelihoods.
Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:
“The stark warnings from the Federation of Small Businesses that around a quarter of a million small firms could be forced to close this year due to a lack of financial support must serve as a wake-up call for the Tory government.
“It would be a dereliction of duty if the Prime Minister and the Chancellor once again refused to heed the warnings and turned their backs on struggling businesses and the thousands of jobs they create across Scotland and the UK.
“Throughout the course of the pandemic the SNP has repeatedly called for meaningful financial support to support the economy, protect businesses, and safeguard jobs and people’s incomes.
“It is now critical that the Tory government backs the SNP’s long-standing calls for a fiscal stimulus package of at least £98bn – on a par with other countries such as Germany and New Zealand – the extension of the furlough scheme for as long as necessary, and the devolution of financial powers to Holyrood so it can take the steps needed to protect businesses and livelihoods.
“The strengthened measures must also at long last see support for the three million currently excluded, and making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to all legacy benefits.
“Already we have seen the Tory government shamefully backtrack on its commitments, after the Chancellor reneged on his pledge to provide £375m in extra funding to support businesses in Scotland.
“If the Tories continue to refuse to take action then the blame for mass business closures and job losses will lie solely at the doors of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
“Since the pandemic began, the UK government has withheld crucial investment and blocked the devolution of financial powers – leaving Scotland to tackle this crisis with one hand tied behind its back.
“It’s clear beyond any doubt that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country – with the full powers needed to take our own decisions.”