Issue 1 – 20/03/2020
This update was only a few hours old when it was surpassed by a massive new announcement (link below) we will send another update on Monday.
Breaking 20/03/2020 – UK economy has collapsed completely – UK Gov to pay people’s wages ow.ly/YYAY50yRiBL
Numbers you may need
The Scottish Government has set up a business helpline to provide Scottish businesses with advice and guidance. The number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm.
If you are concerned that your business will not be able to meet its next tax bill due to the impact of COVID-19 on your revenues you can call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 015 9559 we have heard from some business owners that a 3 month payment holiday can be arranged. – its a start!
Coronavirus (COVID-19), has already had a dramatic impact upon Scottish Business businesses, especially in the tourism and hospitality and arts and cultural industries. It’s also hit many small to medium size businesses that are the backbone of Scotland’s economy especially hard. We want to offer our members and other business owners as much guidance and information on what Government support they can access as revenues fall and how to change working practices.
The following is a summary of the available useful information we were able to gather. This is the first of a series of updates aiming to keep Scottish business informed; from governmental announcements and emergency regulations to advice about best business practices during the coronavirus outbreak in and sharing of stories from fellow business people in Scotland.
What has the Scottish government done so far to support Scottish business
Kate Forbes, Finance Secretary, announced a £320 million package to support Scottish businesses, on the 14th of March that includes the following steps:
- 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.
Then on the 18th of March as the economic impact started to really hit home, the Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop confirmed that package was being increased to £2.2 billion will be available to support Scottish businesses. This emergency support package includes, among other things:
- A full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
- £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
For more information with regards to this and general information about the advice of the Scottish government on the issue, you can click here.
The Scottish Government has made changes, to help owners of non-domestic properties, including businesses, deal with the impact of COVID-19. As a part of the changes, it has also announced extra rate reliefs. The reliefs will be available to non-domestic properties from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. More information can be found here.
Sick pay, social distancing and working from home
Self-isolation has been promoted as one of the fundamental ways someone with symptoms of the coronavirus should respond. Thus, if employees develop the symptoms and need to self-isolate, they will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) subject to meeting the qualifying criteria that came into force on the 13th of March 2020 with the coronavirus amendment of the SSP. For more information with regards to the SSP click here.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has prompted those who can, to work from home as a measure against the further spread of the virus. Working from home is a practice that is quite popular and many businesses were utilising it even before the coronavirus outbreak. However, since many businesses may be unfamiliar with how this can work effectively, a guide with useful information can be found here.
Working from home is, however, part of the ‘social distancing’ strategy that applies to everyone. In short, this strategy states that ‘we should all be trying to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).’ The general steps of the strategy are:
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) – these symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough,
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport – when possible, alter your travel times to avoid rush hour,
- Work from home, where possible support your employees to do this,
- Avoid large gatherings,
- Avoid gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars and clubs,
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family – keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media,
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
The more general advice against contracting the virus and spreading it, put forward by NHS Scotland, is that everyone should:
- Wash their hands more often,
- Stay at home for 7 days if they have a new continuous cough or high temperature,
- Stay at home for 14 days if someone in their household has a new continuous cough or high temperature.
For more information released from NHS Scotland that may be useful in preventing the spread of the virus in the workplace and the community click here.
We hope this helps and we will have updates that we hope will be useful over the weekend and next week as well.