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 regularly 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

Attention is now firmly focussed on Government plans around the relaxation of lockdown measures and the economic re-start.  As you will be aware, on 21st May 2020 the Scottish Government published its’ ‘Route Map Through and Out of the Crisis, highlighting the 4 key phases of the relaxation of lockdown rules. On 9th July, the First Minister announced that we are moving into Phase 3 of this plan, and the government has set out indicative dates for amendments to the current restrictions to assist businesses, individuals and organisations to prepare. The dates can be found here.

To support a safe re-start, the Scottish Government has also issued guidance for specific sectors:

  • Manufacturing sector guidance (updated 7th July).  This sets out Scottish Government expectations on what manufacturers of all sizes and sub-sectors need to consider when they restart and, in the case of the manufacture of essential goods where companies have remained open, it establishes a framework for ongoing action to ensure those workplaces continue to change and operate safely.
  • Museums, galleries and attractions guidance (published 6th July).
  • Events sector guidance (published 3rd July). This publication is designed to provide general guidance for event organisers in supporting the restart of their businesses, with a particular focus on the workforce and workplace, in order to help events restart safely at the appropriate time.
  • Tourism and Hospitality sector guidance (updated 3th July).  This includes information on assessing risk, workforce planning and training, as well as an operational checklist. The updates to this guidance on 3rd July offer information on collecting customer contact details, privacy notices, posters and images.
  • Construction sector guidance (published 22nd June). More information on the ‘Construction Restart Plan’, which is separate to the Scottish Government Route Map, can also be found here.
  • Retail sector guidance (published 19th June). Non-essential retail stores with an entrance/exit leading outside (street acess) were able to open on 29th of June . For non-essential retail, if the customer entrance/exit(s) connects to an indoor space, such as an indoor shopping mall,they are asked not to re-open until Phase 3. This guidance includes details on procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist for businesses re-opening.  Regular reviews of this guidance will be carried out at we continue to ease measures.

Other key updates and developments relating to the economic restart include:

UK Government Summer Statement: On 8th July, the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a further package of UK Government support to help businesses, individuals and public services through the Covid-19 crisis. The new measures cover support for jobs, support for the hospitality and tourism sector and green investment. Find out more on the measures which apply in Scotland here.

Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery: On 22nd June, a report was published by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER), tasked by Scottish Government with developing a post-Covid strategy for economic recovery. The 74-page report titled ‘Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland’ unveiled by the convener of the group, Benny Higgins, alongside first minister Nicola Sturgeon, outlines four pillars that it believes will be crucial for the Scottish Government to prioritise as it moves forward. It also sets out 25 recommendations directed at both the Scottish Government and other actors in Scotland’s economy, identifying interventions to support Scotland’s economic recovery and facilitate the transition towards a greener, fairer and more inclusive economy with wellbeing at its heart. Please find a useful summary of the report here.

The Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) has produced an action plan for the tourism sector which can be downloaded here The group has been working on a single, joined-up, phased plan to not just combat the current issues but also look at how the industry could effectively recover once the lockdown is eased.  This plan takes a phased approach and will continue to evolve in line with the scientific evidence and government advice on the reopening of the sector. Responsible tourism will be core to this – working with local communities and destination organisations is crucial as we look to rebuild a successful tourism industry which allows locals and visitors to coexist and ensure the Scottish welcome is at the heart of the visitor experience.

“We’re Good To Go” launched on 25th June. This is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing. To obtain the mark you must complete a self-assessment through an online platform –goodtogoscotland.com –including a checklist confirming you have put the necessary processes in place. Once complete, you’ll receive certification and access to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ mark for display in your premises and online. Businesses across the UK will be assessed according to their respective national guidance once published, including the physical distancing and cleanliness protocols that must be in place.

What Support Is Available

In terms of financial support available to businesses, the Scottish & UK Government has to date announced a wide range of measures. 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. A specific website has also been set up for Scottish businesses here too.

You can find a full list of support and funding available to business on our Funding and Support page here.

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
  • Full range of measures announced by the Scottish Government, including business rates relief.
  • Full range of UK Government measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and help with sick pay.
  • Support 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.
  • For businesses who would like to offer support to the national effort in Scotland
  • In May 2020, the UK Government announced that everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with Covid-19 symptoms can now get a test. Details of how to access testing in Scotland can be found here.
  • The UK Government has also updated their guidance on holiday entitlement and pay during lockdown – please see here for more details.

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. We can be reached via telephone and email as usual. You can find the names and contact details of our team here – if you need any help please do get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

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.

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 difficult times.

Please stay safe and keep in touch with us so can we help in any way we can.