I am aware that many people have concerns regarding business and economic support in relation to Covid-19.
I will continue to update you all with the latest Scottish Conservative response here.
Please also scroll down for useful links to Government resources which offer advise and support.
The UK and Scottish Governments have announced welcome packages of support for businesses affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
For the first time in history, the UK government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages – paying grants to employers to support as many jobs as necessary. HMRC are working day and night to get the scheme up and running, and we expect the first grants to be paid within weeks.
The new Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, is now open for applications via your lenders’ website in the first instance. The latest information is available at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/for-businesses-and-advisors/. You can confirm if you are eligible by reading this check list: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CBILS-SME-Eligibility-Check-FINAL.pdf.
You may also be eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 if your business is eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Rate Relief.
Additionally, businesses in the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors will receive 100 per cent rates relief from 1 April 2020, while grants of up to £25,000 will be available to businesses worst affected by COVID-19.
You should now be able to apply for reliefs and grants via your local authority. The Scottish Government have said they are working urgently with Scotland’s 32 local authorities to ensure these reliefs are administered in the most effective way. Information on how to apply is available at: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/.
The UK and Scottish Governments have issued instructions that non-essential businesses should close for at least three weeks from 24 March 2020. This will be enforced by the police. Further guidance and details of which businesses should close and which may remain open can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-and-social-distancing-guidance/.
Construction sites should close unless the work is for essential services, such as hospitals or other parts of the critical national infrastructure.
Advice on this and further Scottish and UK Government support can be found at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice or on Scottish Government’s new business helpline number: 0300 303 0660. The helpline should be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.
Businesses, third sector or voluntary organisations who wish to offer support should email the Scottish Government at email@example.com with details such as your organisation’s key contact and their role, what you are offering and how it might be best applied, how quickly your support could be available and whether you are offering this as a donation or a chargeable service.
Support for the Self-Employed:
The UK Government are launching the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, to make sure people who work for themselves get the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months – but this will be extended for longer if necessary. More information on this scheme and the eligibility criteria can be found at https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/self-employment-income-support-scheme/.
The scheme will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, meaning 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed will be eligible for the scheme. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply. Anyone who missed the tax filing deadline in January has 4 weeks from 26 March to submit their tax return. The UK Government have also deferred income tax self-assessment payments. Income tax self-assessment payments for July will be deferred until the end of January 2021.
Self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account. The Treasury expects people to access the scheme by the beginning of June.
If you are self-employed and receiving Universal Credit, the Minimum Income Floor has been suspended for 12 months. This means self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
The Scottish Conservatives are committed to helping people and businesses through the difficult period ahead, and we will continue to urge both of Scotland’s governments to do all they can in that regard.
Find business support in Scotland:
There is a specific Coronavirus (COVID-19) business continuity page available at: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice/ – this should be the first place businesses should look for assistance and is part of a joint response by Scotland’s Enterprise and Skills system (Agencies, Local Authorities, Scottish Government and business/industry organisations).
Scottish Government Helpline:
Helpline to handle urgent issues and more detailed questions that can’t be answered on the FBS site:
Help for business owners and their to employees find information on how to deal with concerns about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace:
Scottish Government workplace advice in non-healthcare settings:
Workplace advice in non-healthcare settings, including tips that apply to people working in hotels and hospitality, leisure facilities, entertainment venues and premises used by community groups.
UK Government Guidance for Employees:
UK Government Guidance for Employers (and businesses):
House of Commons blog on employment rights:
Citizens Advice Scotland:
Advice for self-employed people: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/
Seafish are providing Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates for the seafood industry:
Farmers Guardian are covering Coronavirus (COVID-19 impacts on UK agriculture:
British Retail Consortium:
The BRC have produced a ‘Coronovirus Hub’ to provide operational guidance on issues like HR, competition law and cash flow: