ONLY three-fifths of a £1.25bn Scottish Government support package for businesses during the coronavirus lockdown has so far been paid out.

The latest official figures showed £741.2m had been disbursed by councils in 64,912 awards by May 19, an average of £11,429 for each successful application.

However the data also showed councils had received 81,781 applications, or 16,869 more than have so far been awarded.

Around £64m of grants were paid out last week, up from £58m the previous week, but substantially down on the £138m in support issued the week before that.

The figures cover the two business grant schemes operating in Scotland - a £10,000 grant open to firms in receipt of various rates reliefs, and a £25,000 grant available to retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland said it recently spoken to spoke with public finance minister Ben Macpherson about the need to improve local authority administration of the grant schemes. 

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “More money reached Scottish smaller firms this week than last. We’re grateful that this vital help is reaching local firms, though we’d highlight there’s still around 16,000 applications in the pipeline.

 “FSB spoke with the Scottish Government this week about extending help to businesses facing property costs that are currently excluded from help, like firms that operate from co-working spaces, markets and shared offices. We’re confident that policymakers can find a way to help these sorts of smaller firms.

 “We also pressed home to the Minister the need to ensure businesses applying for help are treated consistently across the country. A business in Glasgow should be getting help if a similar operator in Glenrothes has been offered a grant.”

Scottish Labour said 16,000 applicants yet to received awards was a ”serious cause for concern”, and suggested some small businesses could be missing out on lifeline support.

Finance spokesperson Jackie Baillie, said: “Businesses are under unprecedented levels of financial pressure and it is the duty of the Scottish Government to do all within its power to support them through this crisis.

 “Unfortunately, today’s statistics suggest that potentially thousands of businesses are missing out on the support they both need and deserve.

“The process of re-building our economy after the pandemic will be an arduous one, but what is clear is that small and medium-sized businesses will play a central role.

“It is time for the Scottish Government to consider broadening the eligibility criteria for support to ensure that every business that needs support, gets it.”