Gap widens as businesses in England are offered a fresh lifeline.
Colliers International has called on the Scottish Government to remove the block on businesses in some serviced offices accessing COVID-19 grants. It follows the UK Government’s decision to extend its grant scheme to include such businesses in England.
The discretionary £617m will accommodate certain businesses previously outside the scope of the COVID-19 business grant funds scheme. Until now, an estimated 10,000 business in UK serviced offices were unable to claim the grants, due to the way they pay their business rates.
In Scotland, the criteria for receiving the small business grant is based on the business rates system with a cash grant of £10,000 available for small businesses with a Rateable Value of up to £18,000, which fall within certain specified uses.
However, many businesses in serviced office accommodation do not have an individual business rates assessment, as the business usually pays for one fixed all-inclusive monthly service agreement to their office provider to cover rent, rates and service charges.
Colliers International last week wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes MSP, asking for flexibility in its approach to businesses that have fallen through the cracks. The firm looks after a significant proportion of the Scottish serviced office market, including WeWork and IWG.
Louise Daly, associate director, who leads Colliers International’s Rating team in Scotland said: “The Scottish Government must take action to give such businesses access to much-needed grants. In the first instance, local councils, responsible for handling the grants, must be informed that these are exceptional cases.
“Serviced office providers can easily be identified, on a building by building basis, which will allow tenants to claim the grants they so desperately need. We have offered to work with the Scottish Government to bring clarity to this issue, so that this anomaly can be resolved as quickly as possible.”