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An extra £3.3m in additional business support is being made available for businesses in Level 3 areas which are under financial strain due to the ongoing restrictions, particularly with the Level 4 ‘lockdown’ affecting the mainland.

The areas include the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and other islands which don’t have a fixed link to the mainland. 

This funding will be allocated to local authorities to allow them to support affected businesses.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday (Tuesday January 12) welcomed the announcement by the First Minister that island businesses affected by Covid 19 restrictions would receive additional support.

Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish Government is to make some one-off additional support available in Level 3 areas, including the Western Isles, to help those businesses that are being severely impacted by the restrictions despite not having to close as those in Level 4 have to do.

Alasdair Allan said: “I previously raised this issue with the First Minister and Finance Secretary, as I had been contacted by a number of businesses across the Islands who were reporting a large impact due to the restrictions despite the Western Isles being in Level 3.

“I am grateful that the Government has listened to the call for extra support and responded in such a timely manner.  I look forward to the work being done by the Government and the Comhairle to get the systems in place to deploy this money to the businesses that need it as soon as possible.” 

Angus MacNeil MP said: “My colleague, Alasdair Allan MSP has been pushing hard for this with the Scottish Government and it is great that the First Minister has announced that financial support is now available for businesses in the islands impacted by the ongoing restrictions.

“For example, when B&Bs in Ullapool and Oban are getting money to support them during this period, it is ludicrous that the islands would not get support because if tourists are not going through Oban or Ullapool they are not going to be coming through the islands either.

“I hope that this money goes some way to alleviate the economic difficulties businesses will be facing.  It certainly brings businesses back into a situation that is comparable with their counterparts on the mainland.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed additional Scottish Government funding to support hospitality, retail and leisure businesses on Scotland’s islands.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has announced £3.3 million of additional funding to support hospitality, retail and leisure businesses on Scotland’s islands.

Funding will be shared by Orkney, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar – all of which are wholly covered by level 3 coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

The move brings support for island businesses in these sectors into line with those affected by level 4 restrictions on the mainland. Firms are eligible for one-off grants ranging from £6,000 to £25,000 per premises, based on sector and rateable value.

Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee, Councillor Donald Crichton said, “This will come as welcome new and a relief to many businesses in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors.  Despite our Tier 3 status the economy in the islands is still facing pressure and challenges.  This funding will go some way to alleviating this pressure in the meantime as part of a range of economic recovery activities in which the Comhairle and partners are engaged to enable viable businesses to survive the COVID-19 outbreak and prosper in future years. 

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said, “While the island authorities are currently in Level 3 and not facing the same restrictions on business as the rest of Scotland, this funding recognises that travel restrictions will have a major impact on the island economies.

“This funding will help to support island businesses during these challenging times and bring support into line with that available to their mainland counterparts.”

(This report has been updated with information from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar since first being published)