Covid-19 TfB Hub

Businesses are currently facing challenges most have never had experience of before on this scale. For the vast majority this is an extremely stressful and uncertain time and one where being part of a business network is more important than ever before.

Dunbartonshire Chamber has established the #TogetherForBusiness campaign to bring our amazing business community together to continue to connect, support and inform. The TogetherForBusiness Covid-19 Hub has been created to provide businesses with clear information about the support and guidance available to them.

The TogetherForBusiness Covid-19 Hub is an information & signposting service for ANY business looking to understand how the current situation impacts them, their staff and their future. At this time, we make no distinction between a member or non-member business looking for our support. To get our business and communities through this crisis will mean a partnership approach and there is no wrong door to helping a business access the support they need, or to see them survive. There of course remain many membership services that are only accessible to our members and we will continue to use every avenue at our disposal to maintain our strong community and to be a trusted partner to businesses across Dunbartonshire.

Damon Scott, Dunbartonshire Chamber CEO

Monday 24 August 

£6m Fund Launched To Support The Events Industry

VisitScotland has today announced the details of a £6 million fund to help the events sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic while restrictions on the sector are still in place.

The Events Industry Support Fund will comprise of a one-off grant of £10,000 to support businesses in the events industry, particularly those in the supply chain, that are facing hardship and will be awarded as applications are received.

The fund is being delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by VisitScotland and its EventScotland team, with development input from the newly formed Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG).

Applications for the fund will open from noon on 31 August 2020 until noon on 14 September 2020 with full details on the application process and requirements available here.

#EatOutToHelpOut

From 3 to 31 August, get a 50% discount when you eat in at restaurants that are registered with the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme (Mondays-Wednesdays)

Put in your postcode at the following link to find your local participating restaurants:

https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/eat-out-to-help-out/find-a-restaurant/?_ga=2.12751735.1979534034.1596553910-980217954.1585246283 

KEY UPDATES:

The Scottish Government has confirmed you can stop shielding from 1 August.

This is because the rate of COVID-19 in Scotland is currently very low.

To stay safe, you should still follow the advice given to the rest of the public in Scotland. This is to:

  • Keep 2 metres away from people you do not live with; and
  • Regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

If you have not already, you should also send your Community Health Index (CHI) number to the SMS Shielding Service - both your CHI number and the mobile number for the SMS Shielding Service are in the letters you've had from the Scottish Government.

Tool to help assess your coronavirus risk at work

The Scottish Government has published a tool to help you assess your coronavirus risk at work. The tool is not a replacement for an assessment from a clinician or occupational health specialist, but it can be a starting point for you and your employer to discuss what your risk might be. It also suggests steps you can both take to keep you safe.

The tool may be most useful to you if you are shielding and thinking about returning to work, but anyone can use it via the below link.

Some staff and employers will find this tool useful, but there is no legal need for you to use it if you would prefer not to.

If you're not able to go back to work

If the risks to you and the kind of job you do mean it's hard for you to return to a workplace, some employers may be able to offer you leave. 

Beyond the annual leave you're able to take as normal, known as your statutory leave entitlement, it's up to your employer and you to decide what's best if you're not able to return to work. 

 

 

Further funding for tourism: lifeline support for sector.

Two new funding packages worth £15 million will support the tourism sector as it continues to feel the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A £14 million Hotel Recovery Programme will help to secure up to 3,000 jobs at Scotland’s larger hotels until the start of the summer 2021 tourism season. Eligible businesses can apply for individual grants of up to £250,000 in addition to a suite of wrap-around business support and advice.

The Programme will be jointly administered by the Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies and builds on the existing funding and support for tourism businesses through the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Hardship Fund and the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund.

VisitScotland will also deliver £1 million in grants to self-catering businesses that have not received any other Scottish Government COVID-19 support. Businesses that apply and meet the criteria will be eligible for a one-off £10,000 grant to support them through the winter season.

Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“We recognise the important contribution the hotel sector makes to tourism and the wider Scottish economy, supporting approximately 46,000 jobs across the country. 

“Scotland is home to many of the world’s iconic hotels and they, like much of the sector, have suffered considerably this year from the impacts of coronavirus. The Hotel Recovery Programme is a dedicated funding package designed to safeguard jobs in these establishments and offer some security until the new tourist season begins in summer 2021.

“The Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to support the tourism industry, however without significant borrowing powers at our disposal this action will always be limited. Whilst we very much welcome measures taken by the UK Government, such as accepting our call to cut VAT rates for the tourism industry, longer-term support for jobs is necessary. I hope the UK Government responds positively to our ask for an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”

Read more from the Scottish Government - Further funding for tourism

 


A funding package of £10 million has been established to help the events sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Funding streams will be set up to provide direct support to organisers of cultural, community, and sporting events, as well as to supply chain firms facing hardship, to help keep them in business while restrictions on events are still in place.

It will also look to increase community engagement, and support adaptations to event delivery to enable a safe restart.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the events sector and its wider supply chain, and whilst we’ve had the positive step that drive-in events can resume, most of the sector will be unable to operate for some time to come.

“We’ve worked closely and constructively with the sector on the challenges they face and they have brought forward some creative ideas on how they can begin to operate safely. In addition to providing immediate support, some of this funding will look to bolster innovation and aid the longer term recovery of the events industry.

“Scotland has a track record of planning, delivery and success in events at international, national and local level and this £10 million funding will ensure the sector has a future and that we remain the perfect stage for events. 

Further details of how to apply for funding will be issued in due course. Businesses which have not yet been able to access any of the previous government support mechanisms will be prioritised.

The funding comes as a result of the £97 million in UK Government consequentials.

 

New Fund To Support Museums And Galleries

A new funding stream for the independent museums sector to help bolster resilience following the COVID-19 pandemic has been announced by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

The £4 million Museums Resilience and Recovery Fund will provide support for Scotland’s museums and galleries and will be administered by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS).

The fund will aid the return of staff from furlough and the wider reopening of museums and galleries.  

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“Museums are the places where we hold memories of our people. They play a big role in delivering social impacts in education, health and wellbeing and also generate a considerable amount for the economy, with £1.04 billion directly attributable to heritage, tourism, rural employment and apprenticeships.

“Sadly, many of these wonderful institutions are now at a critical juncture in making decisions about whether they can afford to reopen, looking at possible redundancies, cancelling events and putting off critical repairs. I am pleased to announce this much needed support for the sector to help them get through the rest of the financial year.

“We all need to come together to support our local museums and galleries. As part of the campaign to encourage Scots to staycation this summer, I would encourage everyone to consider visiting their local museums, galleries and heritage attractions, if they are open. Scotland’s communities are relying on our continued support.”

The new Museums Resilience and Recovery Fund will launch shortly. MGS will target support to museums in communities where closure would have a heightened impact because of a lack of alternative cultural attractions nearby. 

The funding comes as a result of the £97 million in UK Government consequentials.

15 July 2020

COVID-19 Test & Protect Guidance

Guidance has been released  to support customer and visitor data gathering for businesses and other establishments to assist contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland's Test and Protect system.

Find out more on the gov.scot website

A staged approach to Phase 2 in Scotland

Scotland entered the second phase of easing lockdown restrictions on Friday 19 June 2020. In the weeks that follow shops will start to reopen, work will resume in certain industries, and some of the rules about meeting other people will be relaxed. 

The current status of the epidemic in Scotland means that the changes in Phase 2 will be introduced in stages, rather than all at once.

View the Updated Route Map table to reflect the move to Phase 2 in Scotland's route map through and out of the crisis:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis-phase-2-update/


REMINDER: Applications for the Small Business Grants Fund closes 5pm on 10 July 2020

News Release: 8 June 2020

Small businesses which share properties but do not pay business rates are now eligible to apply for grants to help with the impact of COVID-19.

The extension to the Small Business Grant Fund will apply to firms occupying shared office spaces, business incubators or shared industrial units and who lease the space from a registered, rate-paying landlord. Separately, eligibility has also been extended to companies occupying multiple premises with a cumulative value of more than £51,000.

Eligible businesses will be able to apply to their local authority for grants of up to £10,000.

It has also been confirmed that the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes will close for new applications on 10 July. Latest figures up to 2 June show that £824.541 million has been distributed to 72,622 businesses across Scotland through the schemes, but that new applications have slowed in recent weeks.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:

“Our comprehensive package of business support is now worth more than £2.3 billion. Our programme is kept under constant review, and we are always looking for ways to extend eligibility to help more businesses. That is precisely what we are doing today.

“New applications for the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes have slowed in recent weeks as large numbers of businesses have already applied. We are committed to ensuring every penny we receive from the UK Government for business support - and more – will be passed to businesses. It is essential that we do not allow funds to sit for too long in schemes that are attracting few applications, so we have decided to bring these to a close next month. That will mean that any remaining money can be re-routed to help businesses in other ways, as we have already started to do for the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund.

“I would encourage the owners of any eligible small business which needs support to consider applying through their local authority during the next five weeks and before 10 July.”

Local links to apply: 

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE businesses, please refer to - https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/business/grant-and-loan/business-support-fund/

EAST DUNBARTONSHIRE (downloadable pdf available at page link below) -  

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/business/business-support-during-coronavirus-emergency

OTHER REGIONS IN SCOTLAND: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/small-business-support-grant/


CJRS – Flexible Furloughing Starts From 1 July 2020

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) are to begin with businesses able to flexibly furlough eligible employees from 1 July onwards.

Businesses can claim a more flexible grant for any employee it has previously received a CJRS grant for, and who now returns to work on reduced hours. Businesses can also continue to claim for employees who stay fully furloughed.

Guidance on eligibility and how to claim for flexibly furloughed employees can be found by searching for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.

What you need to do next
  •  Claim for periods ending on or before 30 June, by 31 July – this is the last date you can make those claims;
  •  Agree the hours and shift patterns that you want your employees to work from 1 July;
  •  Pay your employees' wages for the time they’re in work and apply for a job retention scheme grant to cover the remainder of their usual hours for which they are still furloughed; and
  •  Claim for further furlough periods as needed – the first time you will be able to make a claim for days in July will be 1 July.

Guidance on opening of public and customer toilets during the coronavirus pandemic has recently been released. 

The opening of public toilets carries with it a risk of transmission of COVID-19 given the low levels of natural light, lack of ventilation, many surfaces to touch and the purpose of a toilet. Therefore, there is a need for careful consideration of how public toilets can be opened as safely as possible.

Safe opening will vary according to specific sectors and should align to the guidance provided by those sectors in terms of restart. Assurance that adequate sanitary facilities can be provided where appropriate is integral to the restart process.

Public toilets are defined as any toilets accessible to the public. The opening of toilets should be accompanied by local risk assessment, and control measures should be proactively monitored by operators. Most premises should have a norovirus policy that can be adapted for use in cleaning facilities if an individual with COVID-19 symptoms is known to have used the facilities.

Risk assessment should specifically include:
  • remote/unmonitored facilities for which there may be increased demand as travel restrictions are eased and people start travelling greater distances
  • janitorial staff for whom operators should already have procedures/PPE in place
Find out more here

Update - Scottish RouteMap

The Scottish Government has today (Wednesday 24 June)  set out indicative dates for amendments to current restrictions planned for the remainder of Phase 2 and early in Phase 3, to assist businesses, individuals and organisations to prepare.

The easing of lockdown will mean that some businesses can re-open, adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Monday 29 June

Indoor (non-office) workplaces resume once relevant guidance is implemented.
Includes: factories, warehouses, labs and research facilities.
Excludes: indoor workplaces due to open in Phase 3 (e.g. non-essential offices and call-centres).

Friday 3 July

Travel distance restriction relaxed

Monday 6 July

Outdoor hospitality (subject to physical distancing rules and public health advice)

Monday 13 July

All dental practices begin to see registered patients for non-aerosol routine care. 
Increasing capacity within community optometry practices for emergency and essential eye care
Non-essential shops inside shopping centres can re-open (following guidance and with physical distancing)

Wednesday 15 July

All holiday accommodation permitted (following relevant guidance)
Indoor hospitality (subject to physical distancing rules and public health advice)
Hairdressers and barbers - with enhanced hygiene measures
Museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments, libraries - with physical distancing and other measures (e.g. ticketing in advance)
All childcare providers can open subject to individual provider arrangements

Further Phase 3 announcements are expected to be made at the next review on 9 July

For more information please visit the Scottish Government Website


Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

On Friday 29 May the Chancellor announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, with eligible individuals able to claim a second and final grant in August. HMRC has updated its guidance to confirm that:

  • Those eligible for the first grant must claim on or before 13 July 2020;
  • Applications for the second grant will open in August;
  • The eligibility criteria remain the same as for the first SEISS grant;
  • Those claiming for the second grant will have to confirm that their business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020; and
  • Individuals can claim for the second grant even if they did not make a claim for the first grant.

The guidance also includes new examples of when the ‘adversely affected’ criteria for the first and second grant will be met.


SCC Network Report To Advisory Group On Economic Recovery

Scottish Chambers of Commerce submission to the Scottish Government's AGER, following the SCC Network roundtable with Benny Higgins and Lord Smith held on 28th May, has now been submitted following consultation with the wider Scottish Chamber Network and the Scottish Business Advisory Group.

Read the report


Support for tourism industry 10 June 2020

Further measures have been announced by Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing to support Scotland’s vital tourism industry.

A new Scottish Recovery Tourism Taskforce will assist with the ongoing reset of the sector - and a provisional date of 15 July has been set for when tourism businesses may be able to resume operations, dependent on public health advice and progression to Phase 3 of the Scottish Government lockdown route-map.

The taskforce will look at the sector’s recovery needs as well as actions being taken by the UK Government and the development of a new domestic visitor marketing campaign.

The taskforce is in addition to the £2.3 billion package of support for businesses across Scotland which includes measures specific to the tourism and hospitality industry such as a full year’s non-domestic rates relief and specific grant schemes which are not available elsewhere in the UK.

Mr Ewing made the announcements during a statement to Parliament. He said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges across the entirety of the Scottish economy, but it is very clear there are exceptional circumstances facing this sector that must be recognised.

“We have acted as quickly as we can to address the significant financial challenges faced by businesses and provide a comprehensive package of support. We are also pushing the UK Government to do more, including a review of VAT rates and to consider extensions to schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“I’ve been engaging with businesses since the beginning of the outbreak and I have heard their calls for more clarity which today I can provide. Businesses should start to prepare for a provisional return to trading – with appropriate safety guidelines – on the 15th July 2020.

“This date cannot be definitive and is conditional on public health advice and progression to Phase 3 of the route map. Businesses must now use this time to satisfy the necessary regulations and adapt to the new way of living.”

Please find links to key documents below:

COVID-19: Scotland’s route map for transitioning through and out of the crisis

Transport Transition Plan


Grants extended to help more companies in need but deadline to apply for grants now 10 July 2020

Small businesses which share properties but do not pay business rates are now eligible to apply for grants to help with the impact of COVID-19.

The extension to the Small Business Grant Fund will apply to firms occupying shared office spaces, business incubators or shared industrial units and who lease the space from a registered, rate-paying landlord. Separately, eligibility has also been extended to companies occupying multiple premises with a cumulative value of more than £51,000.

Eligible businesses will be able to apply to their local authority for grants of up to £10,000.

It has also been confirmed that the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes will close for new applications on 10 July. Latest figures up to 2 June show that £824.541 million has been distributed to 72,622 businesses across Scotland through the schemes, but that new applications have slowed in recent weeks.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:

“Our comprehensive package of business support is now worth more than £2.3 billion. Our programme is kept under constant review, and we are always looking for ways to extend eligibility to help more businesses. That is precisely what we are doing today.

“New applications for the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes have slowed in recent weeks as large numbers of businesses have already applied. We are committed to ensuring every penny we receive from the UK Government for business support - and more – will be passed to businesses. It is essential that we do not allow funds to sit for too long in schemes that are attracting few applications, so we have decided to bring these to a close next month. That will mean that any remaining money can be re-routed to help businesses in other ways, as we have already started to do for the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund.

“I would encourage the owners of any eligible small business which needs support to consider applying through their local authority during the next five weeks and before 10 July.”

FUNDING IS AVAILABLE VIA YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY:

EAST DUNBARTONSHIRE 

https://www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/business/business-support-during-coronavirus-emergency

WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE: 

https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/business/grant-and-loan/business-support-fund/


Chancellor Extends Self-Employment Support Scheme and Confirms Furlough Steps

The UK government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months.

Those eligible under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth £6.8 billion will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The Chancellor also set out more details on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will continue to support jobs and business as people return to work, following the announcement of an extension of the scheme on 12 May.

From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.

The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed:

June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything;

August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed;

September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed; and

October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. 


Construction Sector Guidance From Scottish Government

After working with representative bodies, employers and trade unions from the construction sector, updated guidance has been published to help construction restart safely and recover from the damaging impact of COVID-19.  

Please find links to the guidance below:

Construction Guidance

Updated guidance for other sectors still to come. 


Sector Guidance From Scottish Government

New guidance has been published for retailers and manufacturers to consider how people can safely return to work, with updated guidance for construction to publish later in the week.

The documents, which are among the first for a number of specific sectors, have been developed in consultation with business, trades unions and regulators. It will provide advice on essential equipment and services needed to create the conditions for safer workplaces.

Companies are expected to undertake a robust risk management approach that has been developed and maintained through joint working with employees. This will offer assurances to workers when the time is right to return to work.

Working to the phased approach in the route map on easing lockdown published last week, it details the steps required for businesses, acknowledging that some will face more complications when reopening than others, while also considering the impact on employees.

 

FULL Chamber Members (M5 Membership and up) have FREE access to FOUR essential business services below. If you would like to take out FULL membership please contact us and we can help arrange this.

  • Chamber HR
  • Chamber Health & Safety
  • Chamber Legal
  • Chamber Tax

These services include the following:

  • Unlimited access to the HR / employment law advice line
  • Unlimited access to an HR website with a document library
  • Unlimited access to a Legal Advice line
  • Unlimited access to an online library of template legal documents
  • Unlimited access to health & safety advice
  • Unlimited access to an online library of health & safety documents
  • Unlimited access to advice on tax and VAT matters

In summary, you have unlimited access to five business advice lines and over 750 free business documents.

Advice Line

One number giving unlimited access to experienced advisors offering practical advice on HR, employment law, health & safety, legal issues plus tax and VAT matters.

Call 01455 852128. You will be asked for your name and company name (if you are a FULL member and have any problems please let us know).

Website

Access to over 750 free template documents covering HR, employment law, health and safety and legal matters. The website also includes HR and H&S Health Checks. To visit the website and login click here.

Quest (the FREE Chamber HR/Health & Safety/Tax/Legal services) have further information which helps employers deal with staff who may have been affected by the COVID-19 and consequently potential home isolation. Our members have their own login to access lots of information and guidance, and can call the helpline. Find out more here

For information on what to do if you staff do go off on holiday and who may have to Home Isolate on return please click here for further HR information. https://www.questcover.com/news/employer-s-obligations-to-coronavirus/