Coronavirus guidance and advice for our members

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We know that this is an extremely difficult time for all our members so we have compiled a list of the financial support that is available, along with some sources of general support and guidance that they may find useful.

If you find that you are not eligible for financial support, please let us know and we will highlight it to the Scottish Government as our chair, Michelle is taking part in regular meetings with the Tourism Minister, Mr Fergus Ewing through Lochaber Chamber of Commerce.

Financial Support Available

A good place to find full details of all the support available is Business Gateway which has produced (and regularly updates) a really comprehensive guide that you can download.

Business Gateway is also running a series of webinars to support business and in particular how to get better at a range of digital marketing – you can find out what is on in the Highland Region by clicking here.

Scottish Government Cash Grant

A one-off grant of £10,000 for small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme relief or Rural Relief or £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 to £51,000. Only businesses who are currently on the Non-Domestic Rates register may apply for this grant (i.e. businesses who pay council tax will not qualify). Self-catering accommodation needs to be the primary source of income for the ratepayer (one third or more) and let out for 140 days or more in financial year 2019-20. Also now available to eligible businesses who have multiple premises (in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties). Full details are available here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month. You can get full details and apply on the HMRC website.

Hardship Fund

£100 million fund just launched to support newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish or UK Government schemes. The fund is made up of:

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Grant for self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Supports those whose majority income comes from self-employment and whose profits are less than £50,000. HMRC will contact eligible claimants directly. Further details can be found by clicking here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

Government backed loans and other financial support up to £5 million provided by the British Business Bank via participating lenders. Interest-free for first 12 months. For more information click here.

Business Rates Relief

Applied automatically by Highland Council - 1.6% rates relief for all occupied non-domestic properties in Scotland from 1 April 2020 and 100% rates relief for occupied retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from 1 April 2020.

VAT Deferral

Businesses will automatically not need to make a VAT payment during the period 20 March until 30 June 2020. For more information, click here.

Income Tax Deferral

Self-assessment payments for the self-employed due on 31 July 2020 will be automatically deferred until 31 January 2021. For more information, click here.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

Small-and medium-sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim up to two weeks Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) per eligible employee who has been off work because of Covid-19. Full details are not yet available but some information can be found here.

Business Insurance

Check terms and conditions of your insurance policy. If you are insured for government ordered closures and pandemics you should be able to make a claim.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. Loans of between £2,000 and £50,000 with no fees or interest for first 12 months are available. Details of the loan scheme and who the lenders are can be found on the HM Government website.

Enterprise Relief Fund

Grant funding from The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund is available to support for 18 to 30 year olds who are self-employed and/or running their own business.

Sustaining Creative Development

Creative Scotland have grants available to enable freelance artists, creative practitioners, and creative organisations to explore ways of working that will help them to adapt and respond to the crises. For more information, click here.

General Sources of Support & Guidance

Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG)

The group, which consists of COSLA, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, and VisitScotland has been working on a single, joined-up, phased National Action Plan to not just combat the current issues but also look at how the industry could effectively recover once the lockdown is eased. More information about the group can be found by clicking here.

Highland Council

Highland Council has a free helpline 0300 303 1362 and regular update of what is happening. Find out more at

Trading Standards has advice on cancelled bookings. Find out more at


Other sources of information and update you can check are:

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce -

Visit Scotland -

Scottish Government -

UK Government -

Association of Self-Catering Scotland Blog -


Growbiz - support as well as online courses -

My World of Work - free-to-access online learning materials -