Business Ventilation Fund: evaluation

Assesses the outputs and indicative outcomes of the Business Ventilation Fund with the aim of improving ventilation in business premises and reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Executive Summary

  • The evidence reviewed indicates that the Business Ventilation Fund (BVF) was successful in meeting its objective to help businesses to improve ventilation but for a lower number of businesses than was anticipated.
  • It is likely that disruptions due to the Omicron variant may have played a role in the low uptake. However, business feedback suggests issues with the applications and claims process and the design of the fund may also have played a part. The high variation in acceptance rates across local authorities illustrated in the management information data may also indicate inconsistencies in the approach to assessing applications.
  • The business survey findings suggest that the fund addressed a key business need and was fundamental to businesses improving their ventilation, with most businesses stating that they would not have made improvements to their ventilation without the funding.
  • The BVF also appears to have had a positive impact on consumer confidence in the safety of business premises who received funding and on business awareness and monitoring of ventilation in their premises.

Introduction, background and methodology

  • Following the easing of COVID-related trading restrictions in mid-2021, the Scottish Government (SG) introduced the BVF in September 2021 to support small and medium-sized businesses to improve ventilation to help reduce transmission of the virus, thereby supporting the sustained opening of society and contributing to Scotland's wider COVID recovery.
  • This evaluation report seeks to understand the outputs of the BVF, in terms of numbers of businesses supported, and early outcomes, in terms of the extent to which the fund enabled businesses to improve their ventilation and therefore support their sustained reopening. It also seeks to understand businesses' perceptions of the processing of the fund in order to learn lessons for future business support measures.
  • The report draws on management information data and data from an online survey of businesses who engaged with the scheme to understand the outputs and outcomes of the BVF.


  • The BVF received 1,363 applications, of which 577 were accepted (42%), 250 were rejected (18%), 514 were closed[1] and 22 were withdrawn (39% were closed or withdrawn).
  • In total £981,130 was paid to recipients of the BVF. This was significantly lower than the total budget set aside for the fund (£25 million). Initial budget allocations for demand-led grant schemes such as this are not always paid out in full. Grants were paid to those businesses who met the fund criteria, however not all eligible businesses applied.
  • A total of 1,647 ventilation items were purchased by businesses under the BVF scheme, with the most commonly purchased items being air filters/purifiers (20% of items), small mechanical vents/extractor fans (13%) and standalone CO2 monitors (12%)
  • The cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh together accounted for over a quarter of applications, acceptances and the amount paid.
  • Acceptance rates varied significantly between local authorities which may indicate inconsistencies in the approach to processing and assessing applications across local authorities.
  • Micro businesses (0-9 employees) accounted for over half of applications, acceptances and amount paid.
  • By premise type, close contact services such as hairdressing and beauty services accounted for the greatest proportion (over a fifth) of applications, awards and amount paid, followed by hospitality premises.
  • Whilst the expansion of the fund criteria to include business premises classed as medium and low risk settings (for people coming into close contact) did help these sectors to benefit from funding, the funding was overwhelmingly concentrated on high risk sectors, which accounted for almost 80% of applications, awards and the amount paid.


  • The vast majority (93%) of successful claimants surveyed said that the ventilation improvements made with BVF funding had 'some' or a 'strong' impact' on ventilation within their premises.
  • The fund appears to have been integral to businesses improving their ventilation, with two thirds of surveyed businesses who had successfully made a claim stating that they would be quite or highly unlikely to have made improvements without the funding. This indicates that the fund had an 'additional' impact on business ventilation improvements.
  • Almost two thirds (63%) of successful claimants believed that the funding amount was sufficient to make a positive improvement to their premises' ventilation.
  • The BVF appears to have a positive impact on businesses' awareness of the importance of ventilation in closed spaces to guard against the spread of COVID-19, with almost half of businesses surveyed saying the fund had significantly or hugely increased their awareness.
  • The fund also appears to have had a positive impact on the proportion of businesses monitoring the air quality of their premises, with the proportion of successful claimants surveyed measuring air quality increasing from 11% before the BVF to 50% after.
  • The BVF appears to have addressed a key business need for recipients, with the majority of survey respondents stating that improving ventilation was a priority for their businesses and almost three quarters (74%) of successful claimants stating that the fund completely or significantly met their business needs.
  • The BVF seems to have had a positive impact on consumer confidence in the safety of business premises who received funding. Of those respondents who received an award, 64% felt it has hugely or significantly increased consumer confidence in the safety of their business premises.


  • The majority (83%) of fund payments were made within the target four week window.
  • Business perceptions on the ease of the application and claims processes were mixed. Around a third of businesses surveyed found the application process 'very easy' or 'easy' while 41% felt it was 'very difficult' or 'difficult'. Roughly the same proportion of respondents who proceeded to the claims stage in their application found it 'very easy' or 'easy' (40%) as those that felt it was 'difficult' of 'very difficult' (36%).
  • A significant proportion of businesses appear to have encountered issues with the application and claims processes. Almost two thirds of businesses surveyed (61%) stated that they had issues with the application process while just over half (53%) said they had an issue with the claims process.
  • Feedback on the clarity of the BVF guidance was mixed with roughly the same proportion of businesses reporting that they found it unclear (41%), as those that found it clear (46%).
  • Most businesses (73%) found the self-assessment tool useful to some extent.
  • Most surveyed businesses had heard about the BVF via the Scottish Government website (37%), Business Groups/Organisations (18%) or the 'Find Business Support' website (12%).
  • Over two thirds of businesses surveyed (69%) said they would be quite or highly likely to apply for future funding related to ventilation improvements.
  • Business suggestions to improve similar business funding in the future included improving communication with applicants, reducing criteria restrictions to applications and providing funding in advance of businesses incurring the costs rather than on a reimbursement basis.



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