Committee thanks staff for Covid grant support work

At today’s meeting (2 February) of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee the Chair, Cllr Trish Robertson took the opportunity to thank staff who have been working hard over the last two years to deliver a number of different Covid-19 business grants to Highland businesses.

The Scottish Government provides the Council with dedicated grant money to enable it to deliver the various grant schemes on its behalf. To do this quickly and effectively a skilled team of council staff have been concentrating their efforts to provide businesses with information and a setting up systems to ensure the grants can be processed swiftly and efficiently. Over the last two years the team have also been proactively liaising with business representative groups to help promote the grant schemes to their business members and help ensure individual businesses get the grants they are due.

Cllr Trish Robertson said: “Since the Covid pandemic there has been a lot of work going on to make sure businesses get the grant support due to them and the team doing this have proved to be very effective. 

“It’s been a rapidly changing situation. No one was prepared for Omicron and the pre-Christmas restrictions which hit particular businesses very hard. The team have had to react quickly to make sure the support has reached eligible businesses in very short timescales. As an example, most recently the team wrote directly to 790 eligible hospitality businesses, and within two days the first applications were received, processed and grant payments approved.”

Cllr Robertson added: “I would like to remind businesses to look to the Scottish Governments Find Business Support website and to check if they are eligible for other grant support. The deadline for applications for these schemes is tight and businesses cannot afford to wait or put off applying.”

The current grant schemes being delivered by the Council on behalf of the Scottish Government and those new ones about to be launched are:

Business Ventilation Fund - This grant seeks to help businesses improve ventilation and air quality on their premises to help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.  Businesses can claim back costs to improve ventilation of up to £2500.  The grant scheme is targeted to high-risk settings where people come into close proximity, such as hospitality and leisure sectors. 

Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Schemes - These grant schemes are now closed with the Council completing the remaining grant awards. Grants to the value of £4.48m to 745 Highland businesses.
Taxi and Private Hirer Driver and Operator Support Fund - This grant provides a £750 one-off payment to eligible drivers and a grant of £750 - £15,000 to operators subject to the number of vehicles they have.  This £690k grant scheme has been launched and the Council has written out to eligible drivers and operators.

Brewers Fund - This grant will be paid to a small number of brewers who have been affected as part of the supply chain to the hospitality sector.  This scheme will be similar to a previous Covid business support grant payment which the Council delivered last year.  Final details have just been received and the Council will shortly write out to eligible Brewers. 

Nightclubs Fund - This grant (£25,000 to £75,000 depending on rateable value) will be paid to a small group of nightclub businesses.  Delivery of this grant scheme will be part Scottish Government (application/assessment) and part Council (grant payment). The Council has contacted all Nightclub businesses and first payments have been made.

Table Service Fund - This fund will provide a one-off payment to licensed premises trading as a Public House which were required to implement table service and social distancing as a result of the restrictions in place 27 December 2021 to 24 January 2022. Eligible businesses will receive either a grant (£2,500 to £5,000 depending on rateable value). The Council will shortly write out to eligible businesses. 

2 Feb 2022