Last Wednesday, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of support for businesses affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
This includes allowing businesses with fewer than 250 employees to recoup the cost of 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee from the government and launching a new business interruption loan scheme operated by the British Business Bank. As part of the loan scheme, the UK Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on each loan and the Government will not charge lenders or businesses for this guarantee.
Measures were also announced to provide rates relief and grants to businesses in England and Wales, and cash was provided to the Scottish Government to do the same. Therefore, on Saturday, the Scottish Government announced that the following measures will be available 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.
Advice on both Scottish and UK Government support can be found on Scottish Government’s new business helpline number: 0300 303 0660. The helpline should be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.
In addition, the UK Chancellor is expected to announce further measures to support businesses shortly, so I will update you as soon as possible afterwards with more details on that.
The Scottish Conservatives are committed to helping people and businesses through the difficult period ahead, and we will continue to urge both of Scotland’s governments to do all they can in that regard.