The Team

Scottish Government's Coronavirus Business Support policy challenged
Scottish Government's Coronavirus Business Support policy challenged

At the end of April, a group of small businesses lodged a Petition at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. They are seeking a Judicial Review on whether or not the Scottish Government’s Business Grant Scheme is fair.

When the UK Government announced the measures to support business, the Scottish Government said it would match them. However, when businesses began to make applications for the support to the Scottish Government, they discovered that different rules applied.

In England and Wales, a business could apply for a 100% grant for each branch of their business.  In Scotland, the rules initially said that the 100% grant was only available for each business – not each branch of each business.

After being challenged, the Scottish Government changed tact and the grant scheme now provides a 100% grant for the first branch and 75% for each branch thereafter.

It’s been pointed out, especially in the border areas with England, that a business in Carlisle with three branches applied would receive up to £75,000 whilst a similar business in Dumfries would only receive £62,500 clearly placing it at a competitive disadvantage.

In addition, those who wish to apply for the lower grant of £10,000 where the rateable value of their premises is below £18,000 must be in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme for non-domestic rates. This is an additional barrier to qualification that doesn’t apply in England.

Kate Forbes, MSP, the Cabinet Minister for Finance on behalf of the Scottish Government argued that in order for a wider range of businesses to be supported, the scheme had to be tailored in Scotland to accommodate the diversity in the Scottish market. The petitioners do not accept this and are seeking a Judicial Review of Scottish Government policy.

We will keep you updated as this case proceeds.