First minister Nicola Sturgeon promised the SNP will “do everything it can” to support struggling Perthshire businesses hammered by the pandemic.
As she visited the city on the campaign trail, ahead of the May 5 council elections, Ms Sturgeon told the PA that more financial help could be on the cards.
She said: “In terms of support for businesses through business rates we already in Scotland have the most generous systems of business rates relief.
“One of the things we are committing to in this election is to continue the small business bonus which takes about 100,000 businesses out of business rates altogether.
“So we will look for all opportunities to help businesses.
“It is right to say that just as it is having an impact on individuals the rise in energy costs is having an impact on businesses too.
“We will certainly want to work with the business community here in Scotland to make the case to the UK Government that they should be doing more to help.”
Chair of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, Vicki Unite, had called for “meaningful assistance” from the Scottish and UK Governments after the remaining legal requirement to wear face coverings ended yesterday.
She said the restrictions previously placed on retail and hospitality businesses as well as the cost-of-living crisis have contributed to owners being left in “desperate straits”.
It comes as Nicola Sturgeon has been reported to police after footage apparently captured her breaching Scotland’s COVID face mask measures during a visit to a South Lanarkshire barbers on Saturday.
Ms Unite said: “With consumers tightening their belts, and companies being forced to hike their prices in light of rising inflation and costs, it is clearly time for some meaningful assistance from Edinburgh and Westminster.”
The SNP leader was joined by deputy first minister John Swinney, MP Pete Wishart, MSP Jim Fairlie and local SNP councilors and supporters as she spoke to people – young and old – in Perth city center on Friday.
She urged local residents to “send a message” to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives next month by voting for her party.
She hit out at those defending the prime minister after he was fined for breaking lockdown rules and added that SNP politicians will put cost-of-living issues front and center of their priorities.
She said: “This is a cost-of-living squeeze much bigger and more severe than any of us can remember.
“Energy costs are going up, the price of food is going up. People are really scared about the impact on their lives.
“So there is a big responsibility on the government at every level to do what we can to help.
“My government is doing everything we can with the powers and resources that we have got and we will continue to seek to do that.
“Most of the powers and resources to tackle this are at Westminster and they are not doing nearly enough.
“The prime minister and the chancellor have shown themselves to be completely out of touch.
“This election is an opportunity for people to come together and send a really strong message that much more needs to be done.”
She added: “We are optimistic about winning here but we don’t take anything for granted.
“We will be working really hard and it is important in any election to get out there and win the support of people on merit.
“People are really angry at the Tories right now and the cost-of-living squeeze is right up there.
“But the behavior of the prime minister and the serial breaching of the regulations and repeatedly misleading of parliament, the shamefully disingenuous excuses that have been trotted out to allow him to evade any consequences – people are really angry.
“This election is an opportunity to make that known and to express that anger.”