A campaign to help businesses in the north tackle financial fears during the coronavirus outbreak has been launched.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, contacted fellow north MSP, Kate Forbes, Scotland’s new Cabinet Secretary for Finance, asking her to suggest to banks to alter their charges for commercial borrowers during the time of the outbreak.
Mr Stewart has asked the Cabinet Secretary to ask Scottish banks to charge their commercial borrowers the Bank of England rate of 0.1% for a period of 3-6 months.
David Stewart said: “I have received representation from commercial outlets who are seeking help to weather the unprecedented financial storm of the coronavirus outbreak.
“What I am being told is that they want to see Scottish banks charge their commercial borrowers the Bank of England rate of 0.1% for 3 months initially then month to month as the government sees fit. This would take a huge strain off businesses and yes, the banks would lose out on their profit margin for the period but it would help an untold amount of hotels, restaurants and other businesses survive this crisis.”
The call has come from the Chair of Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club, Ross Morrison, who said: “At the moment the banks are offering to defer capital payments on commercial loans. This is all well and good and helpful but what does this cost the banks? Very little. The banks will still charge the lenders the rates over base rate as this margin is where their profit lies.
“With this current situation set to continue to deepen this measure would help businesses survive the crisis and there would be a lot less liquidations at the end of this outbreak.”
David Stewart continued: “This makes good commercial sense to me and I have contacted the Finance Secretary to seek her backing for this. This could be absolutely critical in keeping businesses alive and could make the difference between survival and failure for businesses throughout the Highlands and Islands, and indeed the whole of Scotland.
“The state bailed the banks out when they needed it. We are all in this together and it’s only fair now that the banks should return that favour to ensure the viability of hundreds of businesses in the north and tens of thousands in the rest of Scotland.”