An estate agent whose business has been hit hard by coronavirus could lose out on an emergency £10,000 Scottish government grant due to an “admin error” which resulted in his failure to properly register his company with Highland Council.
Tony Lister says his firm Remax qualifies for full rates relief and meets the eligibility criteria for the Coronavirus Business Support fund. But neglecting to alert the local authority when he moved into his base last October could see his application rejected and his cash-strapped business close down.
He said: “A Highland Council official told me that this grant could only be paid out to businesses that have registered with Highland Council. The application form does states that you must have been in receipt of small business rates relief on 17th March to qualify. I hope this isn’t a hard and fast rule because I’ve made an honest mistake here.
"When I moved in to this premises I paid to have the lease registered – I thought that meant it was being registered with Highland Council but it wasn’t and I’ve just found that out now.
"I’m contesting this and I’ve put my application for the grant in to the council. I have to do everything I can to save my business but without the grant, things are looking desperate.”
Mr Lister, who lives near Nairn and operates his agency from Fairways Business Park in Inverness, turned to regional MSP David Stewart for help who in turn wrote to Highland Council’s chief executive Donna Manson and to the Scottish Government minister for business and fair work, Jamie Hepburn. He is awaiting replies.
Mr Stewart said: “I know Mr Lister is not the only small business owner in the Highlands and Islands who is in this situation. Until he gets a definitive answer on this, he’s in limbo. This is a hard enough time for small businesses to eke out an existence and I think it would be really unfair to deny him and those other firms a grant hand out because of such an honest oversight. Businesses like Mr Lister’s will go down the drain without this help and I’m trying to do what I can to support them.”