Nearly 200 towns across Scotland have benefited from £1 million of grants to help communities recover from the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

The money has come from The Towns and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Resilience and Recovery Fund, financed by the Scottish Government and administered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership.

It has supported a raft of schemes to help town centres in their fightback from the Covid-19 pandemic, including helping pay for PPE supplies as well as funding local marketing campaigns urging people to support businesses in their community, highlighting that they are open for business.

In total, the fund has supported 73 projects – 24 in full and 49 in part – covering 188 individual towns. Money has been granted to organisations including local authorities and community business groups.

Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: “Businesses in our town centres are showing remarkable resilience and innovation in how they are responding to the consequences of Covid-19 to best serve their customers and communities.

“From rapidly accelerating their online offerings to moving quickly to ensure that safeguards are in place to ensure that staff can work safely and customers shop responsibly, their work is playing an important part in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic. The impact they are having should not be underestimated.

“We are delighted to have been able to support the projects we have and pleased that the work will touch on so many towns as we encourage everyone to think local first - and safety first - to support the businesses and the people behind them who really are at the heart of the areas in which they live. Whether it be buying your groceries or enjoying a meal out, the support you give is critical as we work hard to secure a sustainable and successful future for Scotland’s town centres.”

Among the organisations which received a grant was Falkirk Council, which was awarded £30,000 to develop a district-wide project in Bo’Ness, Denny, Grangemouth and Stenhousemuir to launch a local gift card, street markets and signage and PPE top-up supplies to businesses.

Meanwhile, Outer Hebrides Chamber of Commerce received £10,000 towards creating an online virtual high street serving all of the main settlements across the islands chain.

A full list of the projects supported is available here.

Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell MSP, said: “Living more of our lives locally – shopping, eating and enjoying activities in the areas we live – has never been more important. It has a huge role to play in supporting Scotland’s economic and social recovery from COVID-19. This fund is enabling great work to support and promote local businesses in more than 180 towns by highlighting the diverse and vibrant selection of products and services on offer.

“Taking simple steps like choosing to visit a nearby shop or café, or buying goods or services from a business in your own community helps support local jobs. These actions help local economies to thrive, bring communities together and, crucially, help us to continue to suppress the virus by limiting unnecessary travel.”

The Towns and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Resilience and Recovery Fund totals £2 million. While half of this has been used towards the current wave of grants, £700,000 will provide support to business improvement districts when current BIDs Resilience funding expires. The remainder of the money includes support for the Scotland Loves Local campaign, a major multimedia promotion championing the message for shoppers to think local first.

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