information for business owners

Government’s Business Support Grant application form

The Government’s Business Support Grant went live yesterday, the link to this is below. 

Argyll and Bute Council is in the process of setting up a specific call handling response team to deal with influx of enquiries; it may not be possible to get through straight away, but updated information will be here:  https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Unknown/coronavirus_fund_-_application_form.pdf

This will be updated as and when along with:    https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/coronavirus-information-businesses

And also:   https://www.bgateway.com/resources/coronavirus-support

Martin Lewis putting it all simply:   https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip/

Keep an eye on free webinars offered by Business Gateway updated daily:   https://www.bgateway.com/events

Business Gateway webinars

For the duration Business Gateway have gone online. Here is a list of forthcomng workshops.
Build your own Business Website webinar - Argyll and Bute
24th March 2020 10:00 - 12:00
Every business needs a website, it’s the digital equivalent of your business card. If the budget is tight, then you might prefer to build one yourself.

Writing Engaging Online Content - on demand video workshop - Argyll and Bute
26th March 2020 10:00 - 16:00
This workshop aims to transform your attitude towards writing and help you create engaging, useful material for your website, social media channels and other platforms that get results for your busine

An Introduction to Canva webinar - Argyll and Bute
27th March 2020 10:00 - 12:00
Join us for an “Introduction to Canva” online workshop. After this live and interactive, online webinar, you’ll be able to create your own eye-catching images.

An Introduction to Amazon, eBay and Etsy webinar - Argyll and Bute
30th March 2020 10:00 - 12:00
A webinar looking at online marketplaces like Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.

Online Photography - on demand video workshop - Argyll and Bute
30th March 2020 10:00 - 16:00
This workshop will help you get the most out of your smart phone to take quality shots for your company website, social media pages or newsletters. There is a waiting list for places for this workshop
Click here for further details and booking

 

Chancellor unveiles further measures to support people, jobs and businesses

For the first time in our history, the government is going to step in and help to pay people’s wages.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Any employer in the country – small or large, charitable or non-profit - will be eligible for the scheme.

Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off.

Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – that’s above the median income.Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will not be interest free, as previously planned, for 6 months – it will now be interest free for twelve months.

There will be further measures next week to ensure that larger and medium sized companies can also access the credit they need.

  • To help businesses pay people and keep them in work the next quarter of VAT payments will be deferred. That means no business will pay any from now until the end of June; and you will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
  • We’re paying people’s wages up to 80% so someone can be furloughed rather than laid off to protect their jobs.
  • We’re deferring £30bn of taxes until the end of the financial year.
  • We’re lending unlimited sums of money interest free for 12 months.
  • We’re abolishing business rates altogether this year if you are in hospitality, retail and leisure.
  • We’re providing cash grants of £25,000 for small business properties.
  • And to support the self-employed through the tax system, I’m announcing today that the next self-assessment payments will be deferred until January F2021.

Read the full speech here

‘CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME’ - TO BECOME AVAILABLE ON MARCH 23

At Budget 2020 on Wednesday 11 March, the Chancellor announced a ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’, and that it would become available ‘over the coming weeks’.
This has been brought forward, and we now expect the new scheme to become available in week commencing 23 March 2020.
As well as loans, there are many other types of finance supported by the programme, depending on the provider. You can find out what type of finance they provide on our partner page.
It will be provided by the British Business Bank through participating providers, and will offer more attractive terms for both businesses applying for new facilities and lenders, with the aim of supporting the continued provision of finance to UK businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed guarantee against the outstanding facility balance, potentially enabling a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to become a ‘yes’. NB – the borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.
The Government will also cover the first 6 months of interest payments, so businesses will benefit from lower initial repayments. The business remains liable for repayments of the capital. The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5 million pounds (the original announcement suggested a maximum value of £1.2 million.)

CBILS SUPPORTS A WIDE RANGE OF BUSINESS FINANCE PRODUCTS, INCLUDING:
* Term facilities
* Overdrafts
* Invoice finance facilities
*Asset finance facilities
TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR SUPPORT VIA CBILS, THE SMALL BUSINESS MUST:

* Be UK based, with turnover of no more than £41 million per annum
* Operate within an eligible industrial sector (a small number of industrial sectors are not eligible for support or subject to limitations – see below)
* Be able to confirm that they have not received de minimis State aid beyond €200,000 equivalent over the current and previous two fiscal years
* Have a sound borrowing proposal, but insufficient security to meet the lender’s requirements

Full eligibility criteria will be published shortly
Finance terms are from three months up to ten years for term loans and asset finance and up to three years for revolving facilities and invoice finance.

To apply for an CBILS-backed facility, businesses may wish to consider approaching one or more participating lenders to discuss their borrowing needs.

Eligibility restrictions

Please note that a limited number of further eligibility restrictions and/or limitations do apply. Full details can be found here.
Almost all business sectors are eligible, however there are a small number of excluded/restricted sectors arising primarily from EU de minimis-State aid rules.

Help with non-domestic rates in Scotland during coronavirus (COVID-19)

To help owners of non-domestic properties, including businesses, deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Scottish Government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) for 2020-21.
The Scottish Government has introduced extra rates reliefs (discounts). It has also introduced a one-off grant for some businesses.
These reliefs will be available to non-domestic properties from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
It will be possible to apply for the grants from April 2020 and they will be available to 31 March 2021.
The non-domestic rates reliefs and grant funding measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March 2020 apply only in England. They do not apply in Scotland.

Extra reliefs to help with COVID-19
All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% rates relief. This relief effectively reverses the change in poundage for 2020-21.
You do not need to apply for this relief and it will be applied to your bill by your local council.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief. To get this relief, a property has to be occupied.
The Scottish Government are working with Scotland's 32 Councils to make sure this relief is administered in the most effective way. You can check this page for updates, including information on any application process.
You can get these rates reliefs even if you already get another relief for your property.

Grants
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000.
A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses who get:

Small Business Bonus Scheme relief - Rural Relief
You can also get this grant if you applied for Nursery Relief or Disabled Relief but are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme.
You can only apply for one grant – even if you own multiple properties.

Applying for a grant and getting paid
The Scottish Government are working with Scotland's 32 Councils and other stakeholders to agree a common approach to the application process.
This should help make sure there's an effective and timely processing of grants as soon as possible.

Deferring payment of non-domestic rates
If you're struggling to pay your non-domestic rates bill you should contact your local council and ask them about your payment options.

Types of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses who qualify
This list is not exhaustive. If you think you may be eligible for this relief, contact your local council.
* Retail businesses
* Hospitality businesses
* Leisure businesses

State Aid
State aid rules still apply in the UK until the end of 2020.

* The European Commission are consulting with Member States on a number of temporary State aid measures. These measures aim to help with the financial pressures businesses face as a result of Covid-19.

* The Scottish Government will work with the UK Government to make sure these measures can be adopted to help Scottish Businesses where possible.

Scottish Chambers step up call for immediate support for business

Scottish Chambers of Commerce has represented the Network’s priorities to Scottish and UK Government, based on real-time feedback received to date.

Local Letters for Parliamentarians: SCC has supplied every Chamber in Scotland with a localised letter with a summary of the Network’s Asks for sending on to the respective local MSP and MP. This will strengthen and amplify SCC’s efforts with Ministers. Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber will be joinng this campaign.

In addition, SCC has written directly to the First Minister, Secretary of State for Scotland and the UK Chancellor.

The Four Key Asks are as follows:

* Employment Support Grants: providing businesses with immediate cash to support salary costs;
* Business Costs: immediate suspension of upfront costs such as Business Rates, VAT & PAYE for the next three months;
* Business Grants: quicker and immediate access to business grants for all businesses;
* State Aid: temporary suspension of State Aid rules.

Business Support Must Touch Every Part of Scotland

Statement by Dr Liz Cameron OBE, CEO of Scottish Chambers as first published in Herald Scotland:
"As the Covid-19 pandemic escalates across the world we have seen governments and other organisations launch measures not seen in peacetime. While these actions are necessary to protect from the catastrophic spread of disease, it is clear that businesses in Scotland are in need of urgent support as people in the UK face weeks and months of lockdown.
"Chancellor Rishi Sunak has come to the table with a very welcome £350 billion package of support for businesses. It is also welcome that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has committed “every penny” of consequential funding to business support in Scotland.
"The measures announced by Mr Sunak are essential if businesses are to survive and are a good start to filling the cashflow gap. We have urged both the Scottish and UK Government to provide access to these funds quickly and as easily as possible – any delays could lead to job losses and we must avoid this at all costs."
Read full Herald article here

Virtual Help from Business Gateway

Business Gateway Argyll & Bute will now deliver a virtual advisory and workshop service.
In addition they will be using part of the workshop budget from April 2020 to offer 121 one-hour virtual appointments with HR and Accountancy specialists to help businesses address urgent planning.
Their advisers will continue to offer free support with a wide range of business matters.
Once further information is available they will publish it on the Covid-19 information page on the Business Gateway website: Click here
A spokesman said: "You can also find further information and watch a short webinar on the practical steps you can take just now to help you plan for any disruption here
"As part of these steps we would also encourage you to check your business insurance, consider how the disruption will affect your staff and working patterns, and the messages you are giving to your customers and suppliers.
"We already have a range of guidance and information online about business continuity planning, and are working additional articles, webinars on our website.".

ACAS guidance for Employers and Employees

Employee using hand gel and face mask
  1. It's good practice for employers to:  keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
  2. make sure everyone's contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  3. consider extra precautions for staff who might be more vulnerable, for example if someone is pregnant, aged 70 or over, or has a long-term health condition
  4. make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace shows symptoms of the virus
  5. make sure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly
  6. provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
  7. consider if any travel or meetings are necessary and if meetings can be held remotely instead
    keep up to date with the latest government coronavirus advice on GOV.UK
  8. Employers must not single anyone out unfairly. For example, they must not treat an employee differently because of their race or ethnicity.

Social distancing, flexible working and working from home

Current government advice is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people – 'social distancing'. This includes:
1: working at home when possible
2: avoiding busy commuting times on public transport
3: avoiding gatherings of people, whether in public, at work or at home
Employers should support their workforce to take these steps. This might include:
1: agreeing to more flexible ways of working, for example changing start and finish times to avoid busier commuting times
2: allowing staff to work from home wherever possible
3: cancelling face-to-face events and meetings and rearranging to 4: remote calling where possible, for example using video or conference calling technology

Vulnerable people

Employers need to be especially careful and take extra steps for anyone in their workforce who is at increased risk from coronavirus.
They include, but are not limited to, those who:
1: have a long-term health condition, for example asthma, diabetes or heart disease, or a weakened immune system as the result of medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
2: are pregnant
3: are aged 70 or over
4: care for someone with a health condition that might put them at a greater risk
Find out more about social distancing and vulnerable people on GOV.UK.

Working from home

Where work can be done at home, the employer could:
1: ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working
2: arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers
If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employer should:
1: pay the employee as usual
2: keep in regular contact
3: check on the employee’s health and wellbeing
Find out more about Homeworking and health and safety for homeworking on the HSE website
If an employee does not want to go to work
Some people might feel they do not want to go to work if they're afraid of catching coronavirus. This could particularly be the case for those who are at higher risk.
An employer should listen to any concerns staff may have and should take steps to protect everyone.
For example, they could offer extra car parking where possible so that people can avoid using public transport.
If an employee still does not want to go in, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. The employer does not have to agree to this.
If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, it could result in disciplinary action

If the employer needs to close the workplace

Lay-offs and short-time working
In some situations, an employer might need to close down their business for a short time, or ask staff to reduce their contracted hours.
If the employer thinks they'll need to do this, it's important to talk with staff as early as possible and throughout the closure.
Unless it says in the contract or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay their employees for this time.
Employees who are laid off and are not entitled to their usual pay might be entitled to a 'statutory guarantee payment' of up to £29 a day from their employer.
This is limited to a maximum of 5 days in any period of 3 months. On days when a guarantee payment is not payable, employees might be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance from Jobcentre Plus.
Using holiday
Employers have the right to tell employees and workers when to take holiday if they need to. For example, they can decide to shut for a week and everyone has to use their holiday entitlement.
If the employer does decide to do this, they must tell staff at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.
For example, if they want to close for five days, they should tell everyone at least 10 days before.
This could affect holiday staff have already booked or planned. So employers should:
1: explain clearly why they need to close
2: try and resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans
If an employee needs time off work to look after someone
Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependant') in an unexpected event or emergency. This could apply to situations to do with coronavirus.
A dependant does not necessarily live with the person, for example they could be an elderly neighbour or relative who relies on the person for help.
There's no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.
The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.
If a dependant such as a partner, child or relative in the same household gets coronavirus symptoms, everyone in the household must self-isolate for 14 days and they should receive statutory sick pay as a minimum for this time.

If someone has coronavirus symptoms at work

If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with coronavirus symptoms, they should:
1: tell their employer immediately and go home
2: avoid touching anything
3: cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
4: use a separate bathroom from others, if possible
The unwell person must self-isolate at home for 14 days if they live with others, or 7 days if they live alone.
You can get more advice or help by either:
1: using the NHS 111 coronavirus service website
2: calling 111, if you cannot access the NHS website
3: calling 999, if someone is seriously ill or life is at risk
It’s best for the unwell person to use their own mobile phone or computer to access these services.

If someone with coronavirus comes to work, the workplace does not necessarily have to close, but they should follow cleaning advice.

£320 million package of support for businesses

Immediate action in response to COVID-19.

New measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland have been announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

The following steps will be put in place to support businesses during the 2020-21 financial year:

  • a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
  • an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of 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
  • a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020

The Finance Secretary will also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period. Ms Forbes said: “COVID-19 will have challenging implications for businesses and the economy over the coming weeks and months.

“As well as following the latest health and travel advice, it’s also crucial we consider the latest economic analysis and listen carefully to what the business community is telling us. We know that the tourism and hospitality sectors are facing immediate pressure, which is why we have directed support to them in particular. All rate-payers will benefit from a relief that effectively reverses the planned inflationary uplift in the poundage that was due to come into effect in April.

 “The measures I’m announcing today will provide a £320 million of assistance to Scottish business and ensures that all Non Domestic Rate consequentials we expect to receive from the UK Government associated with the COVID-19 outbreak will be used to provide Scottish business with support through what is likely to be a difficult time. We will also be making the case to the UK Government that, because of the larger number of small businesses in Scotland, we need additional resources to be able to provide further support.

“Businesses receiving support are being encouraged to operate with fair work principles including supporting staff to self-isolate when they need to and if they have caring responsibilities and to consider keeping staff in employment where at all possible.

“We continue to work closely with our partners to identify what further support is needed and I’d encourage any businesses with questions relating to the impact of COVID-19 to contact the helpline we launched this week.”

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

Further additional guidance and information, including links to guidance for travellers and the general public, can also be found on HPS’ COVID-19 page. The latest numbers of test results are published at 2pm each day on the Scottish Government website.