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Highland businesses urged to apply to £1 billion support fund set up in wake of coronavirus outbreak

By Gregor White

Businesses are being urged to apply to a new support fund.
Businesses are being urged to apply to a new support fund.

Highland businesses now have the chance to apply for grants to help them deal with the impact of Coronavirus.

The one-off grants are designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovery.

The grant support is additional to separate tax relief measures and is part of a package of measures worth £2.2 billion.

Small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail business can benefit.

Two types of grant are now available to ratepayers:

• a one-off £10,000 grant to ratepayers of small businesses, or

• a one-off grant of £25,000 available to retail, hospitality and leisure business ratepayers with a rateable value between £18,001 and £50,999

The list is not exhaustive and if businesses think they may be eligible for one of these grants, they should contact Highland Council, as local authorities are administering the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Kate Forbes, who is Finance Secretary as well as MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “While our primary concern is for people’s health, it is clear that the Coronavirus outbreak will have severe economic consequences, and we are treating it as an economic emergency.

“This is a very challenging time for businesses, particularly those in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors across the Highlands.

“We are determined to help keep companies in business and support them and their staff during this difficult time.

“Local authorities are the most efficient way to deliver this and we have worked closely with them to deliver these measures – and eligible businesses can apply now.

“Local authorities will aim to make payments within 10 working days, and I’d like to thank them for their help in ensuring this support is delivered as quickly as possible.

“The Covid-19 situation, however, is both severe and fast-moving and requires a co-ordinated UK response. I will continue to work closely with the UK government and the other devolved administrations.”

Local MP Drew Hendry said: “Small businesses across this region are the backbone of our local economy and it is only right that help is available for them and their staff.

"I am determined that Highland businesses get the vital support they need at this difficult time and I will do all I can to support them and their staff at this time.

“The Highland Council, in conjunction with the Scottish Government, will administer these highly important grants. "It is imperative that the council get this application process up and running immediately to ensure local businesses can access this much need support.”

Businesses that may qualify for both awards may make request for only the £25,000 grant.

Only one grant is allowed per ratepayer regardless of the number of premises held.

Businesses are asked to go to the council's Covid-19 Business Grant page on its website www.highland.gov.uk and complete the application form and return it to COVID-19grants@highland.gov.uk

A local authority spokesperson said: "With nearly 5700 businesses eligible for the grants the council is asking individual businesses to complete the application form accurately and in full.

"To do so will speed up the assessment process and enable grant payments to be made as quickly as possible.

More information on how to apply can also be found at https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-coronavirus/

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