A Rutherglen business has been “kicked in the teeth” by South Lanarkshire Council after being refused vital funding to help it cope with the coronavirus collapse.

The owners of family-run Touch Ups auto repair store on Rutherglen Road – who have looked on helplessly as their takings have been slashed during lockdown – were knocked back for a much-needed £25,000 grant by the council because their business isn’t classed as a retail operation.

However, similar businesses in Inverness and Edinburgh have been approved for the funding, with Touch Ups the victims of confusing legislation regarding grant eligibility.

Rachel Findlay, who runs the firm with husband William, says the experience has been a ”kick in the teeth”, especially as they’ve watched their profits more than half in recent weeks,

She told the Reformer: “It’s a crucial time for us because, although we have remained open, we are running on a skeleton staff to reduce the risk of infections. Our profit margin has obviously dropped because no-one has been driving much either.

“Most of what business we’ve had has been for key workers and that’s it. So we thought we would qualify for the grant, but the council has said that we don’t, as we are not a retail business.

“It’s a kick in the teeth because I know other garages and repair shops are getting the grant from their local authorities.

“It’s a lottery depending on where you’re based, but it’s a big difference.”

Looking to the future, Rachel said: “We will survive this, there isn’t any danger of us closing, but we could really use the extra support, because coronavirus is hammering us.”

The confusion relates to whether or not an auto repair business is regarded as a retail outlet.

The Reformer understands that the decision is made at the discretion of each local authority, resulting in some contemporaries securing funding while others, like Touch Ups, are rejected.

Sandy Burgess, the chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, has hit out at the situation.

He said: “What’s happening is not fair, it’s not right and it needs sorting. Regrettably the situation that Tough Ups finds themselves in is not unusual.

“We have a huge case load of garages that have been refused the payments from local authorities, who to be fair are only working to Scottish Government guidelines, which are ambiguous to say the least.”

MSP Clare Haughey

Touch Ups has been a local success story, expanding from a one-vehicle garage in 2006 to a 30-vehicle workshop in just 13 years.

The company currently employ 10 staff and some of their work was featured in the blockbuster Avengers movies Infinity War and Endgame.

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey told the Reformer she hoped to support the business as much as possible.

She said: “I am aware of some businesses that have been refused grants, and I have been working with South Lanarkshire Council to try and resolve some of these specific issues.

“I had a virtual meeting with the council’s finance and corporate resources department who have been very helpful with a number of cases.

“In instances where the council is unable to help due to the guidelines they are working under, I will raise them with the Scottish Government to see if further support could be provided to these businesses.”

Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources at South Lanarkshire Council,, Paul Manning, said: “We have been in contact with this company and have asked them if they could provide information to support their application in relation to the significance of their retail operation.

“The Scottish Government advice is clear, automotive services are not classed as retail.

“However, should the company provide further information that confirms they are wholly or mainly engaged in retail, then we will be able to reconsider the application.”