Members of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (15 June) will hear that during the course of the pandemic and including the Business Rates linked property grants distributed in response to the first lockdown restrictions, which totalled £42,947,811, the Council has distributed almost £92M of grant aid to local businesses to date, to help mitigate the immediate impact of the economic and trading restrictions.
The report also provides an update on of the progress of the Economic Recovery Plan 2020-2023 and the business support funding provided by the Scottish Government for allocation by Dumfries and Galloway Council, together with a final update on the delivery of the Dumfries and Galloway Discretionary Fund. Included in the report, members will be asked to agree to request the Finance Transformation Committee to consider allocating COVID-19 support funds of up to £200k to support town centre business recovery.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our local economy through restrictions of business activity and the landscape has been complex and changing. The challenge now for the Council and its partners is to support long term economic recovery.
In addition to the sector-by-sector support by the Scottish Government, and
alongside the Strategic Framework Fund linked to the tier levels, additional funding
was provided to local authorities in Scotland. The purpose of this funding was to provide additional support for businesses where individual local authorities considered this necessary or justified, subject to guidelines from Scottish Government. Dumfries and Galloway’s share of this fund was £3.8m. Our local Discretionary Fund opened on 16 February 2021 and closed on 15 March. A total of 1052 applications were received, of which 600 were approved. Following the conclusion of the appeals processes, in total £3,892,884 was paid to local businesses meeting the eligibility criteria.
Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Rob Davidson said: “Our Council recognised straight aware that the effects of the pandemic would be far reaching, and I am very pleased that we could help so many of our local businesses and enterprises so quickly.
Additional funding is still in progress, and we are not out of the woods yet, but to mitigate the significant impacts, both Scottish and UK Governments took unprecedented action to support individual businesses and the economy by announcing a series of financial supports and grants. These grants and supports provided for general and specific help for businesses, sectors and individuals. The range and focus of grants available is now likely to shift from immediate emergency assistance during the national lockdown, to more specific supports linked to localised and regional restrictions or closures, and we will continue to address this.”
Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “The allocation of almost £92M worth of funding is a fantastic piece of work. The model of national funding with local delivery has worked well during the pandemic response, and is likely to continue as new funds aimed at supporting longer term structural economic recovery come on stream.
Early signs are that the economic impact is likely to be unequal, with disproportionate effect on younger age groups, women and some localities where employment in hardest hit sectors such as retail, hospitality and leisure is more prevalent. Please be assured that our Council will continue to do whatever we can to help those in need.”