MORE than 500 businesses in Argyll and Bute are still waiting for emergency funding to help them through the coronavirus crisis, according to new figures.

The Scottish Government statistics sparked criticism from the Conservatives – but the government itself insists that it has provided more than £2 billion in support for the country's businesses during the pandemic.

Conservative West of Scotland MSP Maurice Corry, who lives in Helensburgh, says that the help being provided to businesses is "going backwards" after it was revealed that the number of firms waiting for support across Scotland has risen over the last week.

In Argyll and Bute, 573 businesses are still waiting for emergency funding, despite being months into the crisis.

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Mr Corry said: “We are months into the Covid-19 pandemic, yet hundreds of businesses across Argyll and Bute are still waiting on receiving emergency funding.

“The SNP continually talk up the support they’ve provided to businesses, but the reality in Argyll and Bute is far different, and indeed across Scotland this week we have seen a rise in firms still waiting on support, showing that they are going backwards on helping businesses.

“Our hard-working council officials are working tirelessly to get support to those businesses who need it, but they must get more support from the SNP Government.

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“This is an absolutely critical time for businesses in Argyll and Bute but it looks as though the SNP have abandoned them.

“If they don’t step up urgently, then this could be the difference between many surviving or not.”

The Scottish Government says business support includes rates relief for all non-domestic properties, 100 per cent business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2020-21, a £10,000 small business grant fund and a £25,000 retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We understand the economic cost of lockdown - but workplaces, including shops, should not re-open until the evidence suggests it is safe to do so.

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“Our total support for Scottish business now stands at £2.3 billion, and we are also investing £2 million to support the recovery of town centres.

"We will continue to do everything we can to support employers and employees at this time and to prepare for recovery when it is safe to reopen the economy.”

A partial move into phase 2 of the country's route out of lockdown was confirmed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday, though non-essential retail businesses will have to wait until June 29 before they can reopen – and they must have outside entrances to do so, though there are no businesses in Helensburgh which do not fall into this category.

READ MORE: Check out all the latest news headlines from across Helensburgh and Lomond here