Covid-19: Business Support

Covid-19: Business Support

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 Do We Know About the Economic Restart

Whilst we at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce are calling on all governments to work together to adopt a consistent approach to the end of lockdown restrictions, the UK and Scottish Governments are currently taking differing approaches to the economic restart, with different guidelines in place in Scotland and England. Specifically:

  • From 10th May, the UK Government amended their guidance in England from ‘Stay at Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’, and announced that those workers who cannot operate from home should now be encouraged to go to work.
    • To support this, they have issued their roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis.
    • The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has also published a specific Working Safely During Coronavirus’ document for firms in England.
  • Meanwhile, the Scottish Government on 11th May announced their intention to retain the ‘Stay At Home’ guidance for the time being. They have not yet set out a detailed roadmap for economic restart, but they have:
    • Published an updated Framework for Decision Making document outlining the approach they will take to lifting lockdown and restarting the economy
    • Published a comprehensive series of guidance notes on a range of issues for businesses generally and in some specific sectors such as construction
    • Announced that they are preparing sector specific guidelines on restart, initially focussing on the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors during week commencing 11th May 2020.

Here at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, we want to know what you think about the plans to exit lockdown, and what support your business or sector needs to ensure you can safely and securely restart operations as soon as government guidelines allow.  Please let us know your views either through your account manager or via our policy inbox.

What Support Is Available

In terms of financial support available to businesses, the UK Government has to date announced:

  • Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme(CJRS). The CJRS enables any employer in the country to access grants via HMRC to cover wages of employees who are not working but furloughed and kept on the payroll.  It provides government grants to cover 80% of the salary for retained workers to a total of £2,500 per month. The scheme opened on the 20th of April and will run until the end of July 2020 in its current form, with amendments made thereafter until October 2020.  You can make your claim here.

 

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme(CBILS). The CBILS offers government-backed, 12 months interest-free loans of up to £5m for businesses which turn over up to £45m. CBILS supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities. It is now open for applications and is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders and partners, which are listed on the British Business Bank website.

 

  • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). Under this scheme, the UK Government will provide a guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £250 million. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can borrow up to £50 million, and facilities will be available from 3 months up to 3 years. This scheme launched on 20th April and can be accessed here or contact your usual lender.

 

  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). Announced on 27th April, the BBLS is aimed at the UK’s smallest firms, offering loans of between £2,000 and £50,000. Businesses can borrow up to the value of 25% of their turnover up to a maximum of £50,000 and the UK government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months, and there is a short, standardised online application to apply, with no forward-looking test of business viability or ‘complex’ eligibility criteria. Finance should reach businesses within 24 hours of approval and loans are delivered through a network of accredited lenders. More details can be found here.

 

  • 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. It will be based on average profits declared in the last 3 years tax return will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months. The claims service opened on 13th May and applications will open in tranches based on your UTR number.  Those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by 25th May, or within 6 working days of making a claim.  More details can be found here. 

 

  • Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). Administered by the Bank of England, the CCFFwill provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy.

 

  • Deferral of VAT Paymentsfor 3 months. VAT will be deferred and no business will pay VAT from now until 30 June 2020, with firms having until the end of the financial year to repay these bills, as will Self-Assessment Tax This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

 

  • Statutory Sick Pay Rebate (SSP). SSP will be temporarily available to those who are advised to self-isolate and people caring for those within the same household who display Coronavirus symptoms and have been told to self-isolate. For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the UK government in full.

 

The UK Government has created an online support finder which will allow you to quickly find out which support measures you may be eligible for – please access this here.

The Scottish Government has also announced various measures including:

  • A full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism businesses.
  • 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, and the delay of the introduction of Low Emissions Zones in Scotland’s key cities – including Edinburgh.
  • The Small Business Support Grant which provides £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief.
  • The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Support Grant which provides £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • An extension to these schemes was announced in late April 2020 and is also now open for applications. In addition to the existing grants of £10,000 or £25,000 for the first property – businesses may now qualify for grants of £7,500 or £18,750 on all subsequent eligible premises.
  • In addition, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a rateable value up to £18,000 that do not qualify for the Small Business Bonus Scheme, may now qualify for Small Business Grants.
  • These schemes are administered by Local Authorities – please check here for more details of how to apply.

 

  • To support the recently self-employed and viable micro-businesses, the following have now opened for applications.
    • A £34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, managed by Local Authorities, to be allocated to the newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants
    • A £20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies in partnership with Creative Scotland and VisitScotland for creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of business rates relief.  Please note we have been advised that this fund is reaching capacity and is anticipated to close at 5pm on Monday 18 May
    • A £90 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies for vulnerable SME firms who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland

More details on these can be found here. Applications for some of these schemes are on a first come, first served basis, so please submit your applications as soon as possible.

Further information and support can also be found at the below:

  • The Covid-19 Helpline for Scottish businesses: 0300 303 0660
  • The HMRC Helpline: 08000 241222
  • For the full range of measures announced by the Scottish Government, including business rates relief.
  • For the full range of UK Government measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and help with sick pay. There is also a dedicated UK Government business support website which can be found here, and a useful Q&A document which gives more detail on the furlough scheme prepared by BCC and our HR Partners Quest can be found here
  • For support which is available via the City of Edinburgh Council, including a link to the application form for the Coronavirus Business Support Fund which is being administered locally, can be found here. The latest advice from the Council on how they are administering the scheme and timescales for payment are available here now too, alongside information on how they are amending some licensing arrangements
  • For businesses who would like to offer support to the national effort in Scotland

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, to 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 have also written to all our MSPs to make them aware of the support needed by businesses and the urgency of this support.  We are continuing our dialogue with them to close gaps in support provision where possible, and to ensure their economic re-start and recovery plans meet the needs of businesses across our membership and beyond.  Please an example of this here.

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.
  • Since the start of the crisis, 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 ongoing 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.
  • Again, we are continuing our dialogue with Westminster through BCC in relation to UK Government economic re-start and recovery plans – please see our detailed views on re-start which were sent to the Prime Minster on 3rd May here.

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.

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 marketing@edinburghchamber.co.uk

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 marketing@edinburghchamber.co.uk

International Documentation and Certificates: This service will continue to operate as usual for now, please contact 0131 357 2736 for any queries.

International: 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 circularedinburgh@edinburghchamber.co.uk.

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 dyw@edinburghchamber.co.uk

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 or PPE equipment, 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.