By Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP

ONE of the many considerations for governments across the world during the Covid-19 pandemic has been the need to strike a balance between public health and protecting lives, and the economic impact of halting the spread of the virus.

Most have decided that public health must be the priority; and while lockdowns here and around the globe have had a severe impact on business and jobs, they have been necessary to protect the NHS and save lives.

That does not lessen the fact that many businesses are now in a perilous position. Governments across the UK moved quickly to introduce business support schemes.

I know, however, that many Scottish businesses, especially SMEs, have been frustrated with the level and speed of help provided, with some even seeking a judicial review of the Scottish Government’s policy.

The frustration grew from the decision to initially block retailers with multiple outlets from applying for more than one grant – putting small chain businesses in Scotland at a competitive disadvantage.

Following a backlash, Ministers relented, but businesses with multiple properties here are still only allowed to claim 75 per cent of the maximum support grant for subsequent properties.

But with almost half a billion pounds of business support grant finance still not having been allocated, and the allocation of funds slowing down, Scottish Labour is demanding Ministers urgently reconsider this policy and offer businesses with more than one premises their additional grants in full.

Given the widely predicted long-term economic damage likely to be caused by the pandemic, it will be vital that once the public health crisis is under control we dedicate the same urgency and intervention to repairing our economy.

I want this to include a jobs guarantee scheme to help tackle the looming threat of unemployment, especially for young people.

Further information about the advice and support available for businesses during the pandemic can be found at, while the government’s Covid-19 business helpline number is 0300 303 0660.