Finance minister Kate Forbes has been slammed for blaming small business owners for the SNP’s mistakes over grant funding.
The Scottish Conservatives have called the SNP’s response “woeful” after constituents inundated MPs and MSPs with emails to complain that they had provided all details and still couldn’t access grants intended for small businesses including driving instructors and beauticians.
Forbes took to Twitter to blame those applying for the fund, writing repeatedly that “it is extremely important that you read the application guidance in advance and submit the right bank details for the right period.”
The finance secretary responded to multiple people and rejected criticism that the SNP’s scheme was too complex.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The Scottish Conservatives have received lots of reports that people cannot access this fund and have been wrongly rejected.
“Far from dealing with the problem, the SNP’s response is beyond a joke. To try and blame the people applying for grants is woeful when the failure is all their own.
“We’re used to seeing the SNP try to shift the blame but that’s usually onto other governments, not onto the public.
“People deserve a lot better than having to trawl Twitter for information, only for the finance secretary to talk down to them, as if they’re making up these problems.
“This is just the latest example of an SNP Government that treats businesses as an inconvenience and an afterthought.”
James Moffat, 38 from Uddingston, who has been a driving instructor for around five years and is a member of the Approved Driving Instructors National Joint Council (ADINJC), said: “I supplied all this information and I know I meet all the criteria for this grant.
“Before submitting the application it says you must tick a box and agree to a no appeal decision or you can't submit the application. I had to tick this box.
“Within 24 hours I had a response saying I have been unsuccessful as they couldn't authenticate my identity
“I am really disappointed with this decision and also the fact I can't appeal this.
“Since I have been rejected, I have spoken to other driving Instructors through our groups and it seems that a very high number of people are also being rejected for the same reasons.
“Driving Instructors have had no support during the past year and this is the first chance we have had, yet we are being let down.
“I must also make you aware that this grant also covers other small businesses like mobile beauticians and I know they are being rejected to so it’s not just driving Instructors.
“Kate Forbes has put a tweet out saying she knows about an error and that people who were unfairly rejected have been contacted. We are still waiting to be contacted so this is not true. Also, people are still being rejected as I am sending this email for the reasons given to us, that they can't verify us.”
The thread with Kate Forbes blaming the applicants and suggesting they made mistakes is here: https://twitter.com/KateForbesMSP/status/1362475596039794694