This is the third News update of the impact of Coronavirus.

1/SkyeConnect has launched its weekly  Coronavirus impact survey for business. Complete it here.  Business Impact Survey

2/ACAS has issued a Coronavirus guide for employers and employees. ACAS Guidance for business and empoyees

3/Fiona Hyslop, Scot Gov Cab Sec for the Economy said at Holyrood yesterday:

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop addressed the Scottish Parliament on the economic impact of COVID-19 in Scotland yesterday (18th March).

She outlined the actions being taken by the Scottish Government to support businesses including a package of measures worth £2.2 billion from 1 April:

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism.
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief.
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year.
  • First Minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board.
  • urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways.
  • extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022.
  • halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill.

We understand that the grants are to be distributed using the Rates system.

4/David Richardson of the Federation of Small Businesses has posted:

Dear Colleague,

Like many of you, we’ve been inundated with calls, emails and texts from many, many businesses right across the Highlands & Islands. All highlighted real concerns and fears about the future of a wide range of businesses, not least having the cash to pay staff and the many other bills that come their way at this time of year.

Our approach as a UK-wide organisation is simple:

First, we are talking to the UK and Scottish Governments about the additional measures that might be required to support the self-employed and SMEs through this difficult time.

Second, we are doing our best to offer relevant and useful support and guidance to members and non-members alike.

We are all in this together, and only by working together can we hope to avert the worst of the damage being done to our economy and communities.  

With that in mind, we have created a dedicated business support hub, containing a wide range of useful, constantly updated information. This is open to all businesses, non-members included.

ALSO - WEBINAR - Tomorrow (Friday) at 11am, we will be live streaming advice, guidance and answers to businesses’ questions in a special WEBINAR, delivered by a panel of experts: representatives from our Insurance team; Funding Platform; Legal team and, very importantly, the UK’s Interim Small Business Commissioner. The webinar is open to all businesses, non-members included, and everyone must register in advance.

Please feel free to forward this to your members/any businesses that you are talking to. They need all our support.

NOTE – We have space for 10,000 attendees at the Webinar, and it’s filling fast!

Kind regards,

David

5/Further update from Kate Forbes MSP and Cab Sec for Finance

As Cabinet Secretary for Finance, I have announced further support for business in light of the impact of Covid-19. I fully recognise the economic and financial challenges facing businesses and I know that it will be an extremely difficult time for you. Obviously things are developing very quickly and we’re working hard behind the scenes to ensure help is available.
 
In terms of the latest announcement, we have confirmed that:
 
-              All businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors will pay nothing in non-domestic rates as of 1 April irrespective of their rateable value
-              All small businesses in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural business relief will get a £10,000 grant
-              Businesses in the hospitality sector with a rateable value of between £18,000 and £51,000 will get a £25,000 grant
-              The business rates poundage will effectively be frozen at last year’s level meaning that no business will pay more in rates next year.

More info about eligibility for Scottish Government rates relief and small business grants due to impact of Covid-19 now available here: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/

We are working extremely hard to deliver this support asap, but three key points:
 
1. I know that not every business is captured by the eligibility criteria yet - we’re doing what we can to extend support to those who are self-employed, freelancers and other sectors like fishing.

2. We are using the Non Domestic Rates system (like in England, Wales & NI) to distribute support because it’s the fastest, most effective way to reach thousands of businesses. We are working flat out with local government but it will take some time. I know it’s urgent.

3. The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government has announced support for people and communities. Check out the detail as sole-traders/self-employed who work from home and don’t have a business property might be eligible for financial welfare support or council tax reduction: https://www.gov.scot/news/helping-communities-affected-by-covid-19/

Last week, to augment the online hub for business support https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/ the government launched a helpline providing businesses across Scotland with advice and guidance on COVID-19.
 
The helpline number is 0300 303 0660, and it will be open Monday to Friday, between 8.30am to 5.30pm. Advisers across Scotland will answer questions from businesses related to COVID-19. The helpline will also help the Scottish Government identify the current challenges facing businesses.
 
I realise it is easier said than done, but wishing you all the best in these troubling times. I hope some of the above is helpful.

6/Scotland Food and Drink Coronavirus Update 19th March Scot Food and Drink Update

7/Scottish Tourism Alliance 19th March Coronavirus Update  STA 19th March

8/Transport Secretary Michael Matheson updates Parliament yesterday on transport issues Michael Matheson

9/ASSC Update on today 19th March ASSC News