Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic

A new £100m grant support package for smaller businesses and newly self-employed people has opened for applications.

The three separate funds will be administered by local authorities and Scotland’s enterprise agencies.

The money will start to be paid out in early May, according to the Scottish government.

The package includes a £34m "hardship fund" for the newly self-employed and £20m for small firms in the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors.

Up to £45m is also available for "viable" small firms "crucial to the Scottish economy which are vulnerable".

The Scottish government said it aimed to relieve the hardship of small enterprises that were ineligible for other forms of support.

'Economy hit hard'

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our economy has been hit hard by this crisis and previously profitable businesses have seen demand dry up overnight.

"Our support will help alleviate the hardship those individuals and companies are facing.

“I am particularly pleased that we will be able to help the newly self-employed who do not qualify for the UK’s scheme and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (Covid-19)."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland welcomed the move.

'Jigsaw of support'

Policy chairman Andrew McRae said it was "another important piece in the jigsaw of support" required to minimise the economic impact of the health crisis.

He said: “All sorts of businesses have faced extreme difficulties as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

"And while FSB has expressed thanks for the help announced so far for firms by governments in Edinburgh and London, we’ve been bombarded by calls from business people excluded from support.

“We now need ministers to look into specific help for home-based and vehicle-based operators.

"In addition, senior decision-makers need to ensure that these schemes operate as they should and deserving candidates aren’t denied support.”