Falkirk area business owners say support fund has saved jobs during pandemic

Local businesses say cash from a business support fund has kept their firms afloat and saved jobs during the coronavirus crisis.

By Kirsty Paterson
Thursday, 21st May 2020, 4:45 pm

In the Falkirk area, 1600 small businesses have received £18 million of grants – but Falkirk Council, which administers the fund, believes there are another 800 eligible companies who have yet to apply.

Stephen and Lilian Wallace, owners of The Shore at Carronshore restaurant and bar, say it was a huge relief when they realised their business would be eligible for the scheme.

Lilian said: “The grant has allowed us to clear immediate debts and future overheads that we still have to pay even in lockdown.

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Bosses at The Shore say the grants have saved their business

“Without the Business Support Fund grant we were in dire straits and I have no doubt our business would have gone into administration fairly quickly.”

Launched to help certain businesses deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the fund offers a range of grant support to help protect jobs and prevent business closure.

And those who have applied say the process has been very straightforward.

Mark Paterson, owner of workwear business Gemini Supplie, was faced with mounting bills and the thought of potentially having to lay off employees when he turned to Falkirk Council’s Business Gateway team for advice.

He was told that his firm would be eligible for a range of financial assistance and within a week of applying the grant was in his company’s bank account.

Along with a VAT deferral from HMRC and help from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Mark has been able to safeguard six jobs and pay suppliers while his business remains closed due to lockdown.

He said: “Accessing the support has taken the stress out of operating my business, allowing me to pay suppliers and salaries on time.

“Without it my business would have struggled to survive. My focus now is on surviving the year and hopefully getting back on track in 2021.”

Another local firm, Bonnybridge-based BMES Scotland Ltd says advice from Business Gateway – and the support grant – meant it could help the NHS in its fight against coronavirus.

The electrical and mechanical contractor is using the funding to cover day-to-day running costs as it continues to service critical NHS contracts.

These include the complete electrical refurbishment of an old ward to create wards with the capacity for 44-beds and Intensive Care Unit at the University Hospital Crosshouse, Kilmarnock.

They have also been stripping out and replacing electrics to help create a 27-bed trauma ward at Wishaw General.

Barry Munnoch, managing director, said: “The Business Support Fund has been a massive help. The whole application process was seamless and the funds were in our bank account within a matter of days. All pretty impressive.”

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of Falkirk Council, said: “The fund has proved a lifeline to many local businesses. That is why we would urge any business owner who has not applied to visit our website, read the criteria and apply online. You’ll quickly be informed if your business is eligible and, if it is, payment can be made within 10 working days.”

To find out if your business is eligible for the Scottish Government’s Business Support Fund – and for information on other COVID-19 business support – visit Falkirk Council’s website.

Falkirk Council’s Business Gateway team is also on hand to provide advice. Email the team at [email protected]