Here at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, we want to support our members in every way possible during the Covid-19 outbreak.
This page will be updated daily with any new information that helps to support and inform businesses during this time. With the rapidly changing nature of Covid-19, we also encourage you to continue checking official advice from the Scottish Government, UK Government and City of Edinburgh Council websites.
What Support Is Available
To date, the UK Government has announced:
- The launch of a Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS) which will enable any employer in the country to access grants via HMRC to cover wages of employees who are not working, but furloughed and kept on payroll. The scheme will:
- Provide government grants to cover 80% of the salary for retained workers to a total of £2,500 per month
- Be open before the end of April, run for at least 3 months and cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st 2020, with no limit on funding available
- Read our FAQ’s on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.
- The launch of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) which offers government backed, 12 months interest free loans of up to £5m for businesses which turn over up to £45m. CBILS is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders and partners, which are listed on the British Business Bank website.
- A new Self Employment Income Support Scheme(SEISS). This scheme will:
- Provide a grant worth 80% of profits to a cap of £2,500 per month for the self-employed with profits less than £50,000 per annum
- Be based on average profits declared in the last 3 years tax return
- Be open for 3 months initially, and pay claims from June 2020
- A Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, administered by the Bank of England, where they will buy back short term debt from larger companies in the form of commercial paper
- The next quarter of VAT Payments will be deferred and no business will pay VAT from now until mid-June, with firms having until the end of the financial year to repay these bills, as will Self-Assessment Tax payements
- A Statutory Sick Pay Rebate
- A temporary suspension of Wrongful Trading Rules to assist Directors of affected companies for three months beginning from 1 March 2020. This is intended to ensure that directors are able to take decisions to continue to trade and incur new credit — including under the government funding initiatives — which may otherwise cause concern about the potential for personal liability under the wrongful trading regime
Whilst the Scottish Government has announced:
- A full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism businesses
- £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
- Requests to local authorities to allow pubs and restaurants to relax planning rules 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
Some of the detail of these new schemes is yet to come, but businesses can access some of these support measures now with others coming on stream at various points over the next 3 months. The document here provides a lot more detail on all of the available schemes, including some specific measures for particular sectors such as Retail, Hospitality and Leisure and the Third Sector.
Further information and support can also be found at the below:
- The Covid-19 Helpline for Scottish businesses: 0300 303 0660
- The HMRC Helpline: 0800 0159 559
- For the full range of measures announced by the Scottish Government, including business rates relief: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/
- For the full range of UK Government measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and help with sick pay: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19.
- There is also a new dedicated business support website from UK Government which be found here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/.
- For support which is available via the City of Edinburgh Council, including a link to the initial application form for the Coronavirus Business Support Fund which is being administered locally: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/coronavirus-4/businesses-employers?documentId=12924&categoryId=20297
- For businesses who would like to offer support to the national effort in Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-coordinating-offers-of-help-from-businesses/
- For the latest guidance for businesses in Scotland on social distancing, including the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises https://gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-and-social-distancing-guidance/
- For health advice https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19
Please keep checking all of these links regularly as they are frequently updated as new measures and arrangements are announced.
What the Chamber is Doing On Your Behalf
At a local level:
- We have a weekly call with the CEO of the City of Edinburgh Council, and are in daily contact with key stakeholders across the city, and will be able to inform you of any significant actions that will affect you.
- We are speaking to as many of our members as possible to capture the impact this is having on their businesses. We are working hard to ensure the right support is available and can be accessed as soon as possible. This support is time critical for many businesses.
At a Scottish Government level:
- Through our engagement with Scottish Chambers of Commerce, we have regular direct links to the most senior levels of government who have requested updates on how businesses are being impacted. We are also writing to all our MSPs to make them aware of the support needed by businesses and the urgency of this support. As soon as mechanisms as to how members access all of the support on offer in Scotland are announced, we will make sure you know about them.
At a UK Government level:
- As part of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) network, we are able to feed information and concerns from members directly into UK Government. Our priority is to ensure that businesses get clear, actionable information at speed in order to take critical decisions – and that government takes action on the pressing needs of our business communities.
- Over the couple of weeks, the BCC have been in constant contact with Downing Street, with senior Cabinet Ministers, with the Governor of the Bank of England, and with the banking industry. They are in the room, at the table, and we are making it clear that businesses and their employees need immediate support.
- BCC, working with other big business support groups such as the CBI, IoD, FSB and others have been instrumental in securing many of the measures already announced such as the CJRS, CBILS and business rate/VAT/Tax concessions and deferrals.
How the Chamber is Working
In line with Government guidelines, the Chamber team are now working remotely, however we remain fully available and will continue to work with our members and key stakeholders and can be reached via telephone and email as usual.
Representing our members during this difficult time is hugely important, so we are working with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), Scottish Chamber of Commerce (SCC) and the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC), amongst other key decision makers, to feed information back from members directly into all levels of local and national government. It is critical that these organisations hear what is happening in businesses on the ground, so we would urge and encourage you to share any issues with our policy team so they can passed on to the relevant authority.
Events: We have postponed our scheduled events until Government guidelines allow for more social interaction. These will be rescheduled for a future date, and we’ll be in touch with everyone who is booked on to these to discuss arrangements.
We have now rolled out a programme of digital events and seminars to support businesses. Please visit our events calendar for more information.
Training: Our training programme will continue to operate digitally using online platforms. If you have a booking at an upcoming course, we will be in touch directly with joining instructions.
Online communities: We have recently launched online communities which members can join. These forums can be used as a space to share your concerns and experiences with peers as well as a place to explore new ideas and ways of working. If you are interesting in joining a group, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketing & Communications: Our marketing services continue to operate as usual, so members can submit content to us for sharing on our channels, and in Business Comment. Please send content to email@example.com
International Documentation and Certificates: This service will continue to operate as usual for now, please contact 0131 357 2736 for any queries.
International (IPT2): Our international team is working to continue promoting bilateral trade between Scotland and international markets. Our mission to Philadelphia was delivered remotely and included a day of speaking sessions as well as one to one B2B meetings. We are exploring options of delivery for missions planned to Munich, Shenzhen, Toronto and Dubai in 2020/21 and will keep members updated.
Projects: Our Circular Edinburgh programme will continue as usual and the team are on hand to discuss any queries you may have. Please keep an eye on the Circular Edinburgh Twitter for updates, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Developing the Young Workforce are keen to keep connected to industry partners. We are currently planning virtual, online and blended learning experiences to inform and inspire young people about the world of work. Please do let us know if you are interested in being involved or have any questions email@example.com
How You Can Engage
- Please feedback any relevant issues affecting your business to the policy team here at the Chamber, and we will ensure these are fed back to Scottish and UK Government. They are especially keen to hear any suggestions you might have as to how businesses can be better supported, or if there are issues with accessing measures they have already announced/introduced.
- If you are a manufacturing business who can re-purpose any of your operations at this time to support the national effort, such as making ventilators, please get in touch.
- If you have access to PPE equipment which can re-deployed to frontline staff, please get in touch.
- If you are a hotel or venue who might be able to re-purpose your premises to support the national effort if it is needed, such as by hosting key workers, please get in touch.
- If you are exporting, please highlight any issues you are facing with moving goods across borders.
- And finally, please share your good news stories with us – we know many of our members have been selflessly offering support and help to others at this time – please help us get these much needed positive stories out there.
Everyone at the Edinburgh Chamber is determined to provide support for our members and ensure we are at the heart of the region’s resilience during these current difficult times.
Please stay safe and keep in touch with us so can we help in any way we can.