A SURGE of businesses are expected to finally go bust this year as support peters out.

In our special series this week, the threat to the future of our town and city centres is laid bare, but some direction is also given on how investment could help the country through the double weight of the pandemic and Brexit.

Deputy Business Editor Scott Wright highlights a potential route on day one as non-essential retail outlets, pubs, restaurants, cafes and cinemas remain closed in an effort to stem the virus.

Business leaders argue that new Scottish National Investment Bank “should fund projects that would make new uses for long-term vacant buildings in towns and city centres”.

In day two of the series, it is revealed calls are mounting for radical reform of Scotland’s business rates system to help ignite the high street recovery, “as fears grow that outlets currently closed because of coronavirus will not be able to afford bills when current relief ends in the coming months”.

HeraldScotland: Saving Our Centres. By Kirsty Anderson.Saving Our Centres. By Kirsty Anderson.

The Scottish Hospitality Group covering 6,000 workers has done its own reckoning and claims positive cases makes up less than one per cent of that number.

This indicative research is not surprising given the level of hygiene standard restaurants were always used to delivering.

READ MORE: Scott Wright: Signs of hope for stricken hospitality trade

An argument has been made that the hospitality sector which has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,may not need to have been have been closed down to the level it is.

In his Called to Account column this week, Business Editor Ian McConnell says: “The Scottish seafood industry’s exporting to the EU has meanwhile been hammered by Brexit.

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Brexit could have taken many forms. Cheshire Cat Boris Johnson chose this one

“The Johnson Government has had to launch a £23 million scheme to compensate businesses exporting fish and shellfish for Brexit-related losses. Inadequacies in the operation of this scheme have already been highlighted by Donna Fordyce, chief executive of industry body Seafood Scotland, and these must be addressed.”

HeraldScotland: Andrew Milligan PA/Wire.Andrew Milligan PA/Wire.

Business Correspondent Mark Williamson examines the decision by regulator Ofgem to raise the cap on prices payable for electricity and gas in his energy column, saying the decision amid coronavirus crisis “beggars belief,” and also writing it is “a baffling move that raised fresh questions about the effectiveness of the regime it supervises”.

In her employment column this week, Business Correspondent Kristy Dorsey looks at essential feedback from failed job attempts, pointing to research that indicates “that the swelling number of applicants triggered by the Covid pandemic is leaving the vast majority of unsuccessful job seekers in the dark as to why they fail to secure employment”.

READ MORE: Epic fail by Asos leaves workers with bitter aftertaste

Elsewhere, some solid advice on tourism would help. Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, shifts uncomfortably as he admits to previously booking a Cornwall getaway to the BBC, hours after Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, advised against staycations.

“Someone is listening to you, and they are going to say ‘well I listened to the Health Secretary and he said go ahead and book’, or they are going to say ‘I listened to the Health Secretary and he said don’t book your holiday’.

“Which of those two is it?” he is asked.

Mr Hancock’s disgraceful reply is like a dark Bushism. “It is neither. People understand that. It may be more difficult for headline writers, but the people are smarter than all that.”