FORGE Market traders are facing fresh frustration after finding they are still blocked from accessing vital business grants.

The Glasgow Times told in April how a Scottish Government loophole was preventing businesses at the famous East End market from applying for £10,000 cash boosts.

At the end of May, to the relief of traders, it looked like the loophole had been closed after cabinet minister Fiona Hyslop announced changes to the application criteria.

But now it has emerged that many of the small businesses are still excluded from the funds - available to other small businesses - due to further hurdles to access.

Glasgow Times:

Shettleston councillor Thomas Kerr said: “I have been contacted by a number of Forge Market traders who are devastated to read that the eligibility criteria for support excludes them from accessing the funds that they are entitled to.

“Many are sole traders who do not employ any staff and do not have a business bank account.”

All small businesses with a rateable value of less than £18,000 are entitled to apply to their local authority for £10,000 grants.

But because the market traders pay their rates to The Forge Market, rather than directly to the council, they were excluded.

Market traders, with the backing of owner Gerauld Markets, fought to gain political support to help them tackle the issue and give them parity with market traders in England who are entitled to apply for grants.

And finally Ms Hyslop announced funding would be extended to businesses that do not pay rates themselves but lease the space from a landlord who is the registered ratepayer for the property.

Relief was shortlived, however, as businesses are now obliged to have at least one employee, which many of the market traders to do, and to have a business bank account.

This puts a majority of market traders back out in the cold.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow MSP Annie Wells said: “Once again the Scottish Government has decided to create a completely separate scheme than has been successfully implemented in England where market traders have been specifically identified as eligible for discretionary funds provided to councils.

“For the SNP to deny grant money to small businesses in one of the most deprived parts of the country is nothing short of a disgrace.

“For the Scottish Government to offer Forge Market traders a fifth of the support given to other retail outlets is a slap in the face and shows how little they value small business and entrepreneurship.”

SNP MP David Linden said he has been engaging the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to try to find a work around to allow struggling market traders to access support.

He said: “The most important thing here is ensuring cash reaches the traders who have already waited long enough.

“I am working to liaise between the council and Scottish Government to ensure this situation is ironed out as quickly as possible.

“Put simply, we cannot have a situation whereby bureaucracy further impedes hard working traders who are only trying to ensure they have a business to return to when lockdown is lifted.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have put in place unprecedented financial support for businesses and we continue to listen to feedback in assessing what more can be done.

“At a time when businesses in every sector are facing unprecedented difficulties, we are using our resources carefully to help as many businesses as possible.

“We have extended eligibility for the current small business, retail, hospitality and leisure grants to businesses that occupy premises such as shared office spaces, business incubators and shared industrial units where the landlord is the ratepayer, and also to businesses that occupy multiple premises with a cumulative value of more than £51,000.

“As our guidance makes clear, our grant schemes are aimed at small businesses, with other support targeted at the self-employed.”