Plans for every household in the Capital to receive a free £30 voucher have been rejected by Edinburgh City Council.
Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Lang, who represents the Almond Ward, submitted a motion to the council’s Policy and Sustainability committee, requesting the establishment of a new voucher scheme, under which every taxpaying household in Edinburgh would receive a maximum of £30 to spend on local small businesses.
Cllr Lang’s motion requested the scheme be financed by the Scottish Government through underspend on its Covid-19 Small Business Grant Scheme, and that funding should total £8.8 million.
The motion also asked that Council Leader Adam McVey writes to the Scottish Government to make the case for the scheme.
Labour, SNP and Conservative councillors rejected the plan primarily on the grounds that, in their view, it is not financially viable or practical.
Committee members did however agree that should more funding becoming available, council officers will “present further actions to committee to support businesses, particularly focused on maximising the survival of small businesses across the city.”
It was also agreed that Cllr McVey will work with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and ministers to make the case for any underspend in Business Support Grants to be returned to local authorities
Cllr Lang said: “I’m really disappointed to see the SNP and Labour administration choosing to block my constructive idea to help our small high street businesses.
“Unfortunately, it’s the latest example of their ‘we know best’ attitude which is alienating businesses across the city and seriously damaging the reputation of the council.
“Even more astonishing was the position of Conservative councillors who, just a few days ago, were saying my voucher scheme proposal could make a real difference. When it came to the vote, they sided with the SNP to block it. It is totally bizarre.
“At some point the council has got to turn it’s warm words about helping high street businesses into serious and meaningful action.”
Noa Hoffman is the Local Democracy Reporter covering Edinburgh. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency : funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.