Market traders in Scotland missing out on financial support — NMTF contacts First Minister

NMTF CEO Joe Harrison’s email to Nicola Sturgeon

 Dear First Minister

I write to you from the NMTF, the only national trade association for market and street traders, events retailers, and mobile caterers in the UK. We represent around 20,000 microbusiness owners who trade from markets, high streets, and festivals and fairs across the four nations. I wanted to raise your attention to a serious issue regarding the Scottish Government’s response to Covid-19 in our sector.

The NMTF wrote to the Scottish Government on 6 May 2020 to raise concerns for our members in Scotland about their access to the Small Business Support Grant. Following a survey of our members1, it was highlighted that 80% of market traders are not individually liable for non-domestic rates. They are not named on the non-domestic rates register. This meant that many would face a barrier to accessing this crucial grant.

In the case of indoor markets, most pay a contribution towards the rates for the entire market, which is included in their weekly/monthly rent for the stall/unit as decided by the market management. In the case of outdoor markets, most will not be responsible for any non-domestic property as they will travel from place to place and trade from temporary demountable stalls.

The survey also revealed that 70% are sole traders, 84% of non-essential goods traders do not employ any staff, and 33% expect to receive no financial support at all from the government. So, whilst the expansion of the scheme to include businesses in shared space was welcomed, the stringent criteria designed by the Scottish Government for local authorities to follow continued to exclude market traders from the funding.

The loudest voices on this issue are from your home city of Glasgow. Over one hundred microbusinesses in the Forge Market are unable to access the crucial financial support that they need during this period of lockdown. If the Forge Market were in England, as market traders with fixed costs were named as a priority group, they would be first in the queue to receive a grant. Market traders in Scotland deserve the same.

I hope that a solution can be found to enable market traders in Scotland to access the Small Business Support Grant. Most market traders have been forced to close, so this financial support is imperative. As was the case in England2, we welcome the opportunity to work with the Scottish Government to urgently review the current criteria to ensure the grants reach as many market traders in Scotland as possible.

We never received a response from our previous correspondence. But the offer remains to discuss our concerns and work together to safeguard the businesses and protect the livelihoods of market traders in Scotland. I hope that on the other side of this pandemic, we can look back and say that we did all we can to support market traders3 – after all, they should be at the forefront of the campaign for retail recovery out of this crisis.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Harrison
Chief Executive



1 NMTF (2020) (Accessed 11 June 2020)
2 NMTF (2020) (Accessed 11 June 2020)
3 NMTF (2020) (Accessed 12 June 2020)