Pictured: David Richardson FSB’s Highlands & Islands Development Manager.
Commenting on the Budget, the FSB’s Highlands & Islands Development Manager, David Richardson, said:
“By extending the furlough scheme and introducing additional emergency payments for the self-employed, the Chancellor is enabling the bulk of the Highlands & Islands small business community to struggle round what we hope will be the final lap on the road to recovery.
“However, the longer the current travel restrictions remain, the longer and bumpier the road for our all-important tourism & hospitality businesses will be.
“After all, these businesses, providing accommodation, food and drink, activities and a wide range of other services, many of them operating seasonally and in remote rural areas, still have to get through next winter.
“In short, we would have liked to see the Chancellor take a longer-term view.
“Right now, the furloughing extension and self-employed payments should be complemented by grant assistance for the directors of smaller companies, and looking forward, the Chancellor should have cut employers’ national insurance contributions to make it cheaper to create jobs.
“Moreover, while welcoming the extension of the VAT cut to September, many of our tourism & hospitality businesses will worry about what happens next.
“We’ve got to attract consumers back, and no-one knows when international markets will reopen and business return to something like normal.
“On the bright side, however, the freeze in fuel duty is very welcome.
“We must now hope that the Scottish Government will optimise its package of rates and grant support measures, ensuring that the focus is on helping the smallest businesses hit hardest rather than the biggest businesses who’ve avoided the worst of the restrictions.
“The path ahead remains rocky and our small business community is going to need all the support that it can get.”