Aberdeen council leaders and the Scottish Government have battered out a deal to ensure hospitality firms shut down by August’s local lockdown are no worse off than their Central Belt counterparts.
But last night city administration co-leader Douglas Lumsden said it was “a race against time” for businesses to take advantage of aid on offer.
As Aberdeen was plunged into a three-week local lockdown, pubs, restaurants and cafes were ordered to close.
Affected firms – depending on their size – could apply for one-off grants of £1,000 or £1,500 from a £1 million fund to help them through the enforced closure.
It was prompted by a cluster of coronavirus cases sweeping through the city’s nightspots.
But when the stricter lockdown measures were introduced upon the Central Belt’s hospitality trade last week, the government put up double the money.
The inequity led to protest from the city council leaders and business bosses alike, claiming it was unfair businesses further south stood to be given twice as much help.
Late last night, council co-leaders Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing hailed a victory in negotiations with the government after bringing the support on offer in Aberdeen in line with elsewhere.
Businesses previously promised £1,000 will get £2,000 while those larger firms will get the full £3,000 – and if they have already received the cash it should happen automatically.
But council co-leader Mr Lumsden said it was a “race against time” as the offer expires on Monday for those who have yet to apply.
“I’m glad the Scottish Government has seen sense and agreed to increase the threshold to £3,000,” he said.
“What matters now is that all businesses who are eligible, those hospitality businesses affected by the local lockdown, apply by Monday.”
His co-leader Jenny Laing said: “It was disgraceful that Aberdeen businesses were being treated differently to those in Glasgow and it is only right that these grants have now been increased”.
Hospitality bosses gave a mixed reaction to the help, welcoming it but warning much more would be needed to see the industry through.
One bar owner, who did not wish to be named, described it as “a drop in the ocean”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We fully appreciate how difficult it has been for the hospitality sector, which is why we are doing everything with the powers we have to help businesses in Aberdeen and across Scotland.
“Given that Aberdeen City Council has so far yet to allocate all of the funds, we were happy to provide flexibility on the level of grants.”