Concerns have been raised about delays in Scottish Government coronavirus B&B support grants with cash yet to be awarded than a month after they were announced.
Tourism minister Fergus Ewing unveiled the package on January 21 while promising £7 million would be targeted to where it is needed most.
More than a month on from the package being announced, confusion continues about who will receive it – despite them becoming “live” weeks ago.
Calls for more urgency with grants to ensure B&B firms survive pandemic
Grants are expected to be awarded by local authorities identifying the operators who are eligible.
However, both Moray Council and Highland Council say they are still awaiting more information from the Scottish Government about how the B&B grants will work.
The delays have led to calls for more urgency to ensure firms can survive the pandemic until the tourist season resumes again.
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “These badly-needed support schemes were announced more than a month ago but affected businesses in Moray still can’t access the funds.
“B&B and self-catering firms have struggled with a lack of support from Scottish Ministers during this pandemic.
“I recently held a meeting with more than 120 operators who were very unhappy and felt they were being ignored.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain said: “Tourism is vital to the Highland economy and B&Bs should not be left behind by the SNP Government like this.
“The guidance and the funding needs to transferred to Highland Council immediately so Highland B&Bs can be saved.”
Councils still awaiting Scottish Government grants information
The specific B&B grants scheme was launched by the Scottish Government to ensure firms that pay council tax instead of business rates were eligible for coronavirus support.
A Moray Council spokeswoman said: “Earlier this month three new business support funds administered by local authorities became operational: large self-catering units, exclusive use venues providing overnight accommodation and bed and breakfast establishments paying council tax.
“We have not yet been able to contact businesses who may qualify for an award under these schemes – for the first two we require further information from the Assessor’s Office and for the latter, we’re awaiting information from the Scottish Government which we need to proceed.
“Once we receive all the required information we will be able to contact businesses directly.”
A message on the Highland Council website explains it is also awaiting more information while urging B&Bs not to contact them in the meantime.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The exclusive use grant, large self-catering grant went live on February 15.
“Local authorities are currently identifying relevant businesses and will invite them to register for payments.”
“We are continuing to work with local authorities on the details of the B&Bs paying council tax fund, to ensure it meets the needs of business, and more info will be on the Find Business Support website in due course.”