Support for business
Grants and loans
Grant Schemes delivered by Highland Council
The Scottish Government have asked the Council to deliver a number of business grant schemes on their behalf. The Scottish Government provide the funds for these grant schemes and also define the criteria to be used and who is to benefit from the grant.
Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund
The Scottish Government announced on 2 June 2021 that Taxi and Private Hire Drivers who previously received a grant under the Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund and still have a valid license will receive an additional grant of £1,500. This will be an automatic payment and the Council has been asked to start making the payments towards the end of the week commencing 7 June 2021.
If you are a Taxi operator, you may be eligible for a grant of between £1,000 - £15,000 depending on the number vehicle licences you hold. You do not need to apply as the Council will begin contacting all eligible vehicle licence holders from mid-June. The Council has been asked to make grant payment in June/July subject to receiving any relevant supporting information required, and where the eligibility criteria have all been met.
Further details on the Taxi and Private Hire Driver and Operator Support Fund can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.
The main grant scheme currently being delivered, is the Strategic Framework Business Fund. The Strategic Framework Business Fund has two elements to it. One is a Temporary Closure Grant for when a business must close by regulation, while the other is a Business Restrictions Grant for when certain businesses must operate in a restricted way as a result of the Coronavirus protective measures.
Discretionary Grant Scheme
The Council launched its Discretionary Grant Scheme on 10 February 2021 to support businesses who have been unable to secure alternative grant support and have seen a significant reduction in trade – be that goods or services. Following an increase in the funding received from the Scottish Government, the Council has widened eligibility to the grant scheme and increased the payment to £4,000.
Linked to this the Council has has reopened the fund for applications and businesses now have until 9 April 2021 to send in their completed application forms. While it is now anticipated that there will be sufficient funds to provide grant for every eligible applicant, applications will continue to be processed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. However, to be fair to all, if an application is completed incorrectly and the right evidence is not provided, it will be paused to allow the Council to first process all the other fully completed applications. Applicants are therefore urged to ensure they get their applications in as soon as possible but no later than 9 April 2021 and when doing so, ensure the online application form is completed correctly and the accompanying evidence is provided.
Applications for Discretionary Grant Scheme must be made by 5pm on 9 April 2021
Bed and Breakfast Support
The Scottish Government have asked the Council to deliver on their behalf the Small Accommodation Providers Paying Council Tax Fund grant scheme. This grant scheme is for Bed and Breakfasts, Guesthouses and Self-Catering businesses which pay Council Tax. If any of these businesses secured grant support from the 2020 Bed and Breakfast Hardship Fund; the 2020 Pivotal Enterprises Resilience Fund or the 2020 Culture, Tourism, Hospitality Enterprise Hardship Grant, they will be contacted direct by the Council.
Bed and Breakfasts, Guesthouses and Self-Catering businesses which pay Council Tax but who did not benefit from any of these grant schemes will need to make a new application for this grant scheme. This grant scheme opens 15 March 2021.
Bed and Breakfast owners are asked not to contact the Council meantime.
Mobile and Home-Based Close Contact Services Fund
The Scottish Government has announced Mobile and Home-Based Close Contact Services Fund. This fund is for owners and operators of mobile and home-based close contact service businesses and for Registered Driving Instructors. It is anticipated that this will be launched during February 2021
This grant scheme will not be delivered by the Council. We therefore recommend that businesses use the Scottish Government’s Find Business Support to find out more about this scheme.
Large Self-Catering Grant and the Exclusive Use Grant
The Scottish Government have asked the Council to deliver on their behalf the Large Self-catering and Exclusive Use grant scheme. This grant scheme is for self-catering businesses if they have a property which accommodates 7 or more people (as per records held by Rates Assessors) and Exclusive Use properties that provide accommodation for which they pay Non Domestic Rates.
Eligible self-catering businesses will be able to apply for one off grant support of £2,000. Eligible exclusive use premises will be able to apply for £10,000 in grant support.
To be eligible for support businesses must first have applied for and secured Strategic Framework Business Fund.
Based on information held by Rates Assessors and the contact details it has on those large self-catering and exclusive use properties who have secured Strategic Framework Business Fund, the Council is currently contacting each business to reaffirm their business details.
Business who believe they may be eligible for this grant but who have not yet applied for Strategic Framework Business Fund are asked to do so immediately. If eligible, then the additional Large Self-catering and Exclusive Use grant will be automatically added to their Temporary Closure grant award.
If your business needs short term cash flow support a loan scheme is to be set up to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% of a loan and businesses will be able to secure 12 months interest free repayments.
You should talk to your bank or finance provider as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them. The scheme will be available from the week commencing 23 March 2020. Further information is available on the British Business Bank website.
Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
The BBLS is available as of 4 May 2020, enabling smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won't be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year. You can apply for this loan on the Government's BBLS web page.