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Highland businesses urged to check support available to help with coronavirus outbreak; MSP Kate Forbes has called on firms to check their eligibility in dealing with Covid-19 fallout

By Philip Murray

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Kate Forbes MSP at last year's Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards ceremony. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Kate Forbes MSP at last year's Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards ceremony. Picture: Callum Mackay.

HIGHLAND firms hit by the effects of the coronavirus are being urged to check their eligibility for new support from the Scottish Government.

MSP Kate Forbes, who represents Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, made the call following the launch of the support packages to help businesses cope with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

Different parts of her constituency have reported difficulties, including a drop of 50 to 60 per cent in takings when January and February figures for 2020 were compared with last year.

The £320 million package of support includes (all for the 2020/21 financial year):

  • a 75 per cent rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
  • an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of Covid-19
  • 1.6 per cent rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
  • a fixed rates relief of up to £5000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from April 1, 2020

Kate Forbes said: “Clearly this is a very challenging time for Highland businesses, particularly those in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors across the Highlands. I have heard a lot of anecdotal evidence about cancellations and reduced bookings.

“Last weekend, the Scottish Government announced several new measures which I hope will assist many Highland businesses.

“Obviously things are developing very quickly and the Scottish Government is working hard behind the scenes to ensure help is available.

“The government is working on the fastest and easiest way of enabling people to access the financial support.”

The Scottish Government has set up a business helpline number on 0300 303 0660, which is open from Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the Covid-19 team.

- Click here to read more Strathspey and Badenoch Herald news.

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