Business support: national

21st July 2020

UK Government’s “Eat Out To Help Out” scheme launches on 3rd August, running Monday – Wednesday for the duration of that month.

Restaurants, bars and cafés are encouraged to register to help kick-start the hospitality sector from the outset.

Customers at participating venues will receive up to £10 per head off the bill (alcohol not included).

Further details here.

20th July 2020

In addition to the official “Phase 3” advice issued by Scottish Government (see 10th July entry, below), further communication from Scotland’s Chief Planner will be of interest to businesses, which could potentially seat customers outside.

You can read “Planning – use of outdoor spaces and the ’28-day rule'” here.

One Linlithgow is not recommending any particular course of action to individual member businesses and always recommends contacting West Lothian Council’s Planning and Licensing departments for additional, Linlithgow-specific guidance and support.

10th July 2020

Our most recent advice to our member businesses in terms of national support available is simple: all the information you need is available on the Scottish Government website. To avoid confusion, we are simply directing users to the gov.scot site.

“Moving to Phase 3 of lockdown route map” and “Phase 3: business and physical distancing guidance” are the most recent updates and must be read by all businesses reopening or planning to reopen. For example, did you know that face masks are now mandatory in a retail setting, as well as public transport? Both of the above documents are part of the “Scotland’s route map” collection of documents. Additionally, tourism businesses should read the “tourism and hospitality sector guidance”.

2nd June 2020

New official guidance published following end-of-cycle review on 28th May. Relevant documents to most businesses (although we still advise to get all such information directly from the gov.scot website) are:

Retail sector guidance

Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis

14th May 2020

Until there’s clearer guidance from Westminster and/or Holyrood, we’re just leaving this update at the top of the page and directing member businesses to Scottish Enterprise for relevant national updates. You can sign up to the mailing list for regular updates. We would only be duplicating the same information here. For information relevant to Linlithgow businesses in particular, please see our local business support page.

17th April 2020

We’ve posted plenty of links to public advice on this page, but did you know there’s an index of all official (Scottish Government) rules and guidance, which you can find here? We’ve been finding it a useful resource when member businesses have got in touch to ask specific questions.

10th April 2020

West Lothian Council has begun transferring grant payments to businesses – a welcome relief to many already struggling to pay bills.

The newspapers have been reporting that Scottish Government’s decision to apportion the £25k grant on a per-business basis, as opposed to per-business property, has left many operators in existential crisis. If your One Linlithgow member business is affected by this, please contact us.

4th April 2020

In a move that will give hope to businesses that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, flower growers and other horticultural businesses have been allowed by Scottish Government to resume production and trade, as revealed by the BBC this morning in this article.

Of course, not many businesses have the luxury of being able to observe social distancing by working outdoors, but the announcement shows that a pragmatic approach is being taken: businesses will not be closed any longer than absolutely necessary to ensure public safety. Keep the faith!

1st April 2020

Are you applying to Scottish Government for a business loan? We’d be very interested to hear about your experience, so we can build a picture of the process and help others where we can. Please let us know via the contact page.

31st March 2020

Now that support packages have been announced (and linked below), as well as advice from the Economy Secretary to follow this link for any updates, there’s no need for us to duplicate the information. As such, we will no longer be posting biweekly updates on this page unless we have something pertinent to add, however please refer to previous posts and links for information that’s still relevant. If you are unsure how to access government support after trying the links shown on these pages, please contact us and we’ll do what we can to help.

27th March 2020

As the nation settles in to the “new normal” situation of lockdown, greater clarity is filtering through about governmental support.

The self-employed can apply for 80% of their income to be supplied by Westminster, covering those living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, too. Unlike the grants relating to “Small Business Rate Relief” (England) and the “Small Business Bonus Scheme” (Scotland), the self-employed submit tax returns directly to HMRC, wherever they are in the UK, so all can apply to the same scheme. Applications are not available to submit yet. Further advice on eligibility and calculations here.

Scottish Government has announced £1m support to Business Improvement Districts and their member businesses. Further details to follow next Friday (3rd April).

26th March 2020

You can download this very useful “Business Support Summary”: a no-nonsense list of coronavirus support schemes available in Scotland, what they’re for, who can apply, and how to do so. It’s correct as of 17:30, Thursday 26th March 2020, but we’ll be leaving it here until there’s an update. Please double-check through each scheme’s official channel that information is correct before applying.

24th March 2020

A further blow to business on Monday: all non-essential businesses must close. The nation is on lockdown, with citizens only allowed to leave home for essential reasons. This wasn’t entirely unexpected and, though the damage to business really can’t be overstated, we wholeheartedly agree with the Government’s decision to enact the restrictions.

Besides offering our member businesses hand sanitiser and trying our best to get the message out about local businesses still able to trade, we are keeping track of support available from Scottish Government. Please note that the much larger £350bn support package announced by Westminster is not available in Scotland.

Local Constituency MSP for Linlithgow, Fiona Hyslop, addressed Scottish Parliament this week in her capacity as Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture, to announce:

• a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism

• grants of up to £10k for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief

• £25k grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18k and £51k

• 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

• Local Authorities urged to relax Planning rules to ease operation for businesses still able to trade

• Extending the “go live” date for deposit return scheme to July 2022

• Halting introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill

You can watch the announcement here.

20th March 2020 (18:05pm – 2 of 2)

A sobering message from Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak at around 17:30 this evening. All pubs, cafés, restaurants and gyms ordered to close “from tonight”. Many in the hospitality industry (at least those with business interruption insurance) will welcome clarity after several days’ prevarication, but by no means all. UK Government promised to pay 80% wages for those not required to work as a result of the announcement.

The announcement comes after London saw an alarming increase in coronavirus cases in one day. A bitter pill though it is to swallow, we must learn from countries far worse hit than us and abide by what may seem like draconian measures, for the sake of our at-risk loved ones and for the sake of our NHS – already stretched to near-breaking point before the worst comes.

20th March 2020 (08:43am – 1 of 2)

Does your small business rely on your own children, or those of your staff, being in school during term time, e.g. by relying on a partner for childcare? Perhaps the list of “key workers” announced this morning will affect your staffing arrangements.

The Scottish Government support package has increased from £320m to £2.2bn. This brings it more in line with the UK Government offer and would suggest that the Scottish package is the only one available in Scotland. EDIT 25/03: The Westminster package is not available in Scotland.

The package includes grants of £3k – £10k for businesses small enough to qualify for Small Business Bonus Scheme (rates relief). Again, currently unconfirmed whether this applies only to those businesses with 100% relief (RV of under £15k) or all bands. We are assuming the former until clarification is received. EDIT: All such businesses may apply through West Lothian Council.

Businesses in the “hospitality, retail and leisure” sectors (specific definition not yet announced), and with rateable values between £18k and £51k, qualify for grants up to £25k.

That Scottish Government press release in full.

Some additional links that businesses may find useful: “Find Business Support” (Scottish Enterprise), including a mailing list you can join for updates.

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) advice for employers and employees.

19th March 2020

Another slew of updates on both UK and Scottish government websites, but again very little detail about how businesses can actually access grants and other means of support.

One Linlithgow would seek to confirm that the Westminster loans/grants package of £350bn will be available to Scottish businesses – and that the £320m allocated by Holyrood (see yesterday’s update) is additional to this. We will update as soon as confirmation is received, however if you find out before we do, please let us know so we can pass the message on.

A BBC interview with UK Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, yesterday left uncertainty over the actual delivery of relief to businesses. He suggested that the promised grants to “the smallest 700,000” businesses (i.e. those subject to rates relief) would be available “through the Local Authority“. Exactly who within each Local Authority and how to contact them was unclear.

Another woolly answer was given in response to business interruption insurance. Many businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, have expressed fury at Boris Johnson’s suggestion that people should stay away from pubs and restaurants, without actually ordering a shutdown. This has been interpreted by many as a means of Westminster protecting insurance companies from having to pay out: if there has been no order to close, then policies are not activated, but hospitality businesses would lose even more money staying open, perhaps also being vilified for doing so.

Mr. Sharma issued what appeared to be a reassuring response: that he had “had conversations with insurers” and that they would “respect those arrangements that are in place”. On inspection, the comment means little more than “insurers will abide by the terms of insurance contracts”. Please let us know if you have business interruption insurance and, if so, what the outcomes of your discussions with your insurer have been.

No announcement was made about the plight of the self-employed, but this is expected in the coming days.

Planning regulations have reportedly been relaxed, allowing pubs to operate as takeaways (for food, or using e.g. refillable “growlers” for beers). One Linlithgow has not found any detail of this, but will continue to seek it. As with all news coming out at the moment, please update us if you hear something before we do.

18th March 2020

The headline here is that £320m has been allocated by Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to mitigate damage to businesses across the country.

From what would appear to be a separate budget, it was also announced that a £50m hardship fund would also be made available to people losing their jobs as a result of the downturn.

The £320m fund will provide, according to BBC News:

75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1st April 2020

• An £80m fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact from COVID-19.

1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, “effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020”

Local Authorities are being encouraged to defer payment of business rates for a “fixed period”, upon request from businesses.

The full press release can be viewed here.