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.
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. It also proposes to provide an additional top-up grant in addition to the £2,000 currently available, if after giving all eligible applicants a grant there are remaining funds to do so.
Linked to this the Council has extended the deadline for applications and businesses now have until 19 March 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 19 March 2021 and when doing so, ensure the online application form is completed correctly and the accompanying evidence is provided.
Bed and Breakfast Support
On 21 January 2021 the Scottish Government announced that Bed and Breakfasts, which do not pay non-domestic rates but who pay Council Tax, will be able to secure grant support. We are awaiting details of this grant scheme from the Scottish Government. Once this is received, details will be provided here on eligibility and how to apply for grant.
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
On 21 January 2021 the Scottish Government announced that large self-catering businesses (recorded by the rates assessor as sleeping seven or more guests) and exclusive use self-catering support (listed on the NDR roll, as 'exclusive use accommodation') will be able to secure grant. 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.
The Council is awaiting details of this grant scheme from the Scottish Government. Once this is received, details will be provided here on eligibility and how to apply for grant.
Large self-catering and exclusive use owners are asked not to contact the Council meantime.
Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund
Following its announcement in December 2020 to provide a wide-ranging package of additional business support, the Scottish Government has launched a grant scheme to assist eligible private hire and taxi drivers in Scotland with fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road. Financial assistance will be paid, as a one-off grant of £1,500 for each individual licensed taxi or private hire driver.To be eligible for this financial assistance taxi or private hire drivers must:
- be licensed for the period 9 October 2020 to at least 31 January 2021;
- have experienced loss of income (50% of turnover, compared with 2019) and incurred overhead costs and expenses;
- confirm that they are or have been working or available for work as a taxi or private hire driver up to 31 December 2020;
- not have breached wider COVID regulations/requirements prior to local restrictions.
Details of the grant scheme and full eligibility criteria are available on the Scottish Government website
The Council has been asked to administer this grant scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government. The Council will now write to all eligible driver licensees to brief them on their potential entitlement and invite them to provide relevant supporting information and bank details.
Taxi and private hire drivers do not need to contact the Council.
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.