Loading...

Information on the Coronavirus outbreak

10 Jun 2020

Medical advice for the public can be found at www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus and www.gov.uk/coronavirus

A hotline has been set up for businesses affected. They can call 0300 303 0660 for advice and support.

Everyone needs to work together to get through this – so it’s vital people follow the latest official guidance. Other useful numbers and information can be found below.


FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE

If you are worried about your job, please read the following information:

  • For the first time in history, the UK government is stepping in to help pay people’s wages – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. 
  • Grants will be paid to any employers who retain their staff. Any employer in the country – large, small, charitable or for profit – who promises to retain their staff, will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are kept on payroll.
  • Employees who were on the payroll on 19 March or earlier are eligible. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1 March.
  • Grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – which is above the average income. Employers will be free to top up the remaining 20 per cent, but this is not mandatory. There will be no limit on the number or total value of grants paid out.
  • The UK Government will also cover the cost of National Insurance and pension contributions. Employer contributions for furloughed staff will be paid by the UK Government on top of 80 per cent of salary costs. This could save businesses an extra £300 a month for each employee under the scheme.
  • Workers on the Job Retention Scheme who are planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate.
  • The scheme has been extended by the UK Government until the end of October. There will be no changes to the scheme until the end of July. But from the start of August there will be flexibility for employers to return people to work part time.
  • The scheme is now closed to new applications – unless you are returning to work from any kind of parental leave. If youare returning for parental leave, your employer will still be able to furlough you even after the June 10 cut-off date.But in order to be eligible, your employer must have previously furloughed other staff in the past.

If you are looking for work, please read the following information:

  • The Department for Work & Pensions have launched a new site to advertise thousands of critical jobs across the UK – https://jobhelp.dwp.gov.uk/.

If you think you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), please read the following information:

  • You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
  • If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19, you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people self-isolating in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information.
  • How soon does SSP apply? The UK Government is legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to self-isolate caused by COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.
  • Do I need a sick note? Those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate are able to obtain an ‘isolation note’ at https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.

If you are self-employed, please read the following information:

  • The UK Government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is now open, to make sure people who work for themselves get the financial support they need. The Government will pay self-employed people across the whole UK who have been adversely affected by coronavirus a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month, for three months.
  • And the scheme has been extended by the UK Government for another three months. From August you will be able to apply for a second grant worth 70 per cent of your average monthly trading profits over three months. This means you will be able to claim up to £6,570. Eligibility will be the same for both grants.
  • The scheme is open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, meaning 95 per cent of people who are majority self-employed will be eligible for the scheme.
  • HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income is from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.
  • If you are newly self-employed and ineligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, you can claim up to £2,000 from your local authority. You will be eligible if you became self-employed on or after 6 April 2019, over half your income is from self-employment, and your trading profits were below £50,000 in financial year 2019-20. Further information is available at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/coronavirus/newly-self-employed-hardship-fund.
  • The UK Government have also deferred income tax self-assessment payments.  Income tax self-assessment payments for July will be deferred until the end of January 2021.

If you think you may be eligible for Universal Credit, please read the following information:

  • The minimum income floor on Universal Credit has been suspended for 12 months. This means self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate that is equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. If self-employed claimants’ work, and therefore earnings, have significantly reduced due to the impact of COVID-19 guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, and the wider economic impacts of the outbreak, their Universal Credit award will increase to reflect their lower earnings.
  • If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate.
  • The UK Government have increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 a year. The Universal Credit standard allowance will increase by £86.67 per month (equivalent to £20 per week), on top of the planned annual uprating. Together these measures are estimated to benefit over 4 million of our most vulnerable households.
  • You no longer need to phone the Government as part of your Universal Credit claim. New changes mean that if there is information that needs to be verified as part of your claim, the Department for Work and Pensions will phone you instead. This will mean you do not face long waits on the phone trying to get through to a member of staff.

If you think you may need financial support from your local council, please read the following information:

  • The Scottish Government have said they will set up a £70 million ‘Food Fund’ to support households who may be worried about accessing food – whether due to an income drop or self-isolation. Local councils are free to deploy this funding as they see fit, so questions about how to access funding are best directed to them in the first instance. You can find their contact details at https://www.mygov.scot/find-your-local-council/.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties meeting your mortgage repayments, please read the following information:

  • The UK Government has agreed with mortgage lenders that they will offer ‘repayment holidays’ of 3 months to households in financial difficulty due to COVID-19. This will also apply to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.
  • The offer of a payment holiday can be made available to customers who are up to date with payments and not already in arrears.
  • Customers who are concerned about their current financial situation should contact their lender at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss if this is a suitable option for them. The application period has been extended until 31 October.
  • If you are still struggling to make your payments at the end of your initial mortgage holiday, an extension for a further three months should be available.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties paying your rent, please read the following information:

  • You should not face the threat of eviction for at least 6 months. New legislation protects renters from being evicted if they fall into rent arrears as a result of coronavirus. This will extend the minimum period of arrears required to evict from three months in a row to six months in a row.
  • The UK Government have announced that from this April, all new and existing private renters claiming Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will benefit from additional housing support. All Local Housing Allowance rates will be uplifted – worth an extra £14 a week on average for existing claimants and any additional Universal Credit claimants who rent in the private sector.
  • New legislation means students should able to exit their purpose-built student accommodation contracts early.This means that students currently tied into a student accommodation contract, and who may have returned home due to coronavirus, should be able to exit that lease with a seven-day notice period.
  • If you are experiencing issues paying your rent, please tell your landlord as soon as you can. We need landlords to help their tenants as part of society’s overall response. We cannot have people put at risk of homelessness at this difficult time.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties paying your energy bill, please read the following information:

  • An agreement between the UK Government and energy suppliers means customers who are unable to top up their meter or can’t afford to pay their bills should get support from their supplier. You are advised to contact your energy supplier immediately to discuss how you can be kept on supply.
  • If you are a pre-payment or pay as you go customer who cannot leave your home, your provider should help you stay supplied. This could mean someone else can be sent to top up your card, a pre-loaded gas or electricity card is sent in the post, or funds are added to your credit.
  • Disconnection of credit meters should be completely suspended. If you are in financial distress, you may also be able to have your debts or bill payments reassessed, paused or reduced where needed.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying back personal loans or credit card bills, please read the following information:

  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have called on lenders to use flexibility built into their rules to support consumers, taking into account customers’ individual circumstances. Many major lenders have already made statements to this effect.
  • If you are experiencing difficulties paying back loans or credit card bills because of COVID-19, you should talk to your lender.
  • If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score.

If you are a student experiencing financial difficulties, please read the following information:

  • A £5 million package of emergency financial support has been put in place to help students facing hardship. Students should apply directly to their university or college. Further information is available at https://www.studentinformation.gov.scot/coronavirus

If you are concerned about facing insolvency, please read the following information:

  • Scotland’s insolvency service, Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB), has suspended sale and eviction from property in ongoing bankruptcy administrations until further notice.
  • The evidential requirements for individuals seeking debt relief through bankruptcy have been amended to allow faster access, providing protection from debt enforcement.
  • AiB is also reducing the need for face to face contact, allowing access to debt relief to be maintained by accepting electronic signatures on protected trust deeds and other documentation.
  • If you have an ongoing debt payment plan but are worried about how you will be able to pay, AiB will not be revoking these programmes.

If you are worried about your current benefit claim, please read the following information:

  • The UK Government have suspended all benefit reviews and reassessments, to reassure vulnerable people that they will continue to receive benefits during this crisis. This includes if you are claiming any of Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.This measure will also ensure resources are focused on helping new claimants access support.
  • The UK Government is suspending face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits for the next 3 months. This move is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus.
  • The UK Governmenthave increased the basic element of Working Tax Credit by £1,045 to £3,040 from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021. Depending on your circumstances this increase could mean up to an extra £20 each week.
  • The UK Government are protecting tax credit payments, so that if you can’t work your normal hours due to coronavirus you will still automatically receive your normal payment.
  • There has been additional funding given to Discretionary Housing Payments. If you are struggling with your housing costs and are currently receiving Universal Credit or Housing Benefit you may be eligible for further financial support. Further information is available at https://www.mygov.scot/discretionary-housing-payment/.

If you require further financial support, please read the following information:

  • You can check whether you are eligible for any of the social security benefits delivered in Scotland at https://www.mygov.scot/benefits/social-security-scotland/. If you have recently started to receive Universal Credit please be aware you may now be eligible for other benefits as a result.
  • Citizens Advice Scotland able to support you access a range of support, from claiming benefits to getting help with your mortgage or rent. To access their resources please visit https://www.cas.org.uk/ or call 0800 028 1456.

OTHER SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE

If you are symptomatic and need to book a COVID-19 test, please read the following information:

If you are or know someone abroad who is trying to return home, please read the following information:

  • The UK Government is working flat out to get British travellers stranded abroad home, and have partnered with key airline providers to ensure that tourists stranded abroad can get home.
  • Where commercial routes do not exist, the UK Government has pledged £75 million to enable additional charter flights and to ensure that tickets home are affordable.
  • Airlines have committed to offer alternative arrangements where routes have been previously cancelled. They will allow passengers to change tickets, as well as provide the latest advice and information as the situation changes.

If you are a foreign national concerned about your visa expiring while in the UK, please read the following information:

  • The UK Government have announced that all NHS frontline staff with visas due to expire before October 2020 will have their visa extended for one year. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists will automatically have their visas extended, free of charge, for one year.

If you feel vulnerable but do not have a support network, please read the following:

  • A new helpline has been set up for people who would be at high risk if they contracted coronavirus, but are without support from family or their community. In particular, people who are any of: (1) aged over-70, (2) disabled, (3) requiring the support of mental health services, (4) pregnant, (5) unable to get online or (6) receive the flu jab for health reasons should contact the helpline on 0800 111 4000. This helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
  • The helpline will support you to get essential food or medication, emotional support, or information for vulnerable children and adults.

If you are concerned about an older person in need of support, please read the following information:

  • Age Scotland have a free, confidential helpline which provides information, friendship and advice on 0800 12 44 222. It should be available Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm. Practical advice for helping older relatives and friends through this difficult time is available at www.age.scot/5waystohelp.

If you are worried about your mental health or wellbeing, please read the following information:

  • If you’re feeling distressed, in a state of despair, suicidal or need emotional support you can phone Samaritans for free on 116 123.

If you are a veteran, please read the following information:

  • A new website, www.HeadFIT.org, has been designed specifically for the defence community to provide 24/7 access to self-help tools that can enhance mood, drive and confidence, and help you manage the stresses of everyday life.

If you are pregnant and worried about whether you should go to work, please read the following information:

If you are concerned about your car or driving licence, please read the following information:

  • Generally, people should stay at home and avoid travel, only leaving their home for essential purposes.
  • Car, motorcycle and van owners will be granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing from 30 March 2020. This will allow people to carry on with essential travel. During this period vehicles must still be kept in a roadworthy condition.
  • What if my MOT is currently due but I’m in self-isolation? The Department of Transport is working with insurers and the police to ensure people will not be negatively affected as a result of self-isolating.

If you wish to report a business behaving unfairly, please read the following information:

INFORMATION FOR PARENTS

If you are concerned about school or childcare, please read the following information:

  • The Scottish Government have announced that all schools will partially reopen on 11 August 2020. Pupils will attend school on a part time basis initially, and will combine classroom learning with home-schooling.
  • Certain groups of pupils may be asked to return to school earlier than this. These include vulnerable children, or pupils in transitional years such as P7 or S1. Such pupils could receive small amounts of classroom teaching from the end of June. We are awaiting further details on this from the Scottish Government.
  • If your child has been attending a childcare hub, this should still be available over the summer months.
  • On Friday 20 March 2020, all schools, and all local authority early learning and childcare settings closed to children and young people. There are exceptions in place to protect ‘key workers’ and vulnerable children.
  • The Scottish Government have asked local authorities to decide what learning and childcare arrangements for the children of key workers are most appropriate for local circumstances. They are also asking local authorities, where possible, to make provision available beyond the school day, in partnership with providers of out of school care and after school and holiday clubs.

If you think you may be a ‘key worker’, please read the following information:

  • Local authorities should now have critical provision in place so that children of key workers, such as NHS and social care staff, can still access learning and childcare if their parents absolutely must go to work.
  • However, employers of key workers are being asked by the Scottish Government to consider if it is possible for workers to continue to provide essential services from home. To ensure childcare provision continues to be provided only where completely essential, parents who are key workers should therefore work with their employers to find a way to work from home if possible, or to seek alternative childcare – for example, from a relative or carer who is not a key worker.
  • The definition of ‘key worker’ has been broken up into three categories. If you fit into one of these three categories, your child may be eligible for learning or childcare provision from your local authority:
  • Category 1: Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID-19 response, and associated staff; Health and Care workers supporting life-threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; Energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning for other category 1 staff.
  • Category 2: All other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (Fire, Police, Prisons, Social Workers, etc), as well as those supporting our Critical National Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.
  • Category 3: All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised).
  • These categorisations may be slightly different in each local authority area depending on local priorities.

If you think you may be a ‘key worker’, but have a partner who is not, please read the following information:

  • The Scottish Government have advised local authorities that if one parent is a key worker and the other is not, the non-key worker should normally be expected to provide childcare. The general rule is that if it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.

If your child is in S4 to S6, please read the following information:

  • The SQA have advised that no young person with coursework to complete should attend school to do so.
  • For this year, schools and colleges will not be required to submit learner coursework for both Higher and Advanced Higher courses. While many students have already completed large elements of their coursework already, this will all be used as part of the evidence upon which teachers base their decisions to award appropriate grades.
  • National 5 coursework that has already been submitted will not be marked, and coursework that is due to be submitted in April or May is no longer required.
  • The SQA have confirmed that teachers will award pupils predicted grades based on a number of factors, such as formative work. These predicted grades will then be compiled by the SQA who will decide if any adjustments are required. Any final decision reached on pupils’ grades will be subject to a free appeals process.
  • At this stage, there are no plans to allow students to sit exams in the autumn as part of the appeals process. If students are still unhappy with their grades following their appeal, they will be able to sit their 2020 exams in the 2021 exam period.
  • It is expected that teachers will submit pupils’ estimated grades by 29 May. Further information, including answers to frequently asked questions, is available at https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/93777.html.

If your child is eligible for free school meals or has additional support needs, please read the following information:

  • The Scottish Government have said that local authorities should put provision in place for children who are eligible for free school meals, have additional support needs or are otherwise vulnerable or at risk.
  • Your local authority should make provision available to ensure that your children do not suffer unduly as a result of the current crisis. For free school meals, alternatives may take the form of direct payments to parents or food vouchers to be spent at supermarkets.

If your child attends an independent school, nursery or other childcare, please read the following information:

  • The Scottish Government have said that private or independent schools, nurseries or other childcare setting can remain open, provided they support only the children of key workers and vulnerable children and wherever possible, work with local authorities in their areas to do this.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES

If you are considering letting staff go, please read the following information:

  • For the first time in history, the UK government is stepping in to help pay people’s wages – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. 
  • Grants will be paid to any employers who retain their staff. Any employer in the country – large, small, charitable or for profit – who promises to retain their staff, will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are kept on payroll.
  • Employees who were on the payroll on 19 March or earlier are eligible. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1 March.
  • Grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month – which is above the average income. Employers will be free to top up the remaining 20 per cent, but this is not mandatory. There will be no limit on the number or total value of grants paid out.
  • The UK Government will also cover the cost of National Insurance and pension contributions. Employer contributions for furloughed staff will be paid by the UK Government on top of 80 per cent of salary costs. This could save businesses an extra £300 a month for each employee under the scheme.
  • Workers on the Job Retention Scheme who are planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate.
  • The scheme has been extended by the UK Government until the end of October. There will be no changes to the scheme until the end of July. But from the start of August there will be flexibility for employers to return people to work part time.
  • The scheme is now closed to new applications – unless you are returning to work from any kind of parental leave. If youare returning for parental leave, your employer will still be able to furlough you even after the June 10 cut-off date.But in order to be eligible, your employer must have previously furloughed other staff in the past.

Your business will not pay VAT until the end of June:

  • The UK Government have announced that VAT for April, May and June will be deferred, and businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

Your business may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence:

  • This refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who are either ill or been told to self-isolate because of COVID-19. This is in line with the recommended isolation period.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. The eligible period for the scheme began on 13 March.
  • The UK Government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible. Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP.

Your business may be eligible for rates relief and grants:

  • If your business occupies a property in the retail, hospitality, tourism or aviation sectors you will be eligible for a 100 per cent discount on your rates bill for 1 year from 1 April 2020. This will cover a range of businesses, including restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, shops, cinemas, bingo halls and letting agents. This discount will also cover airports and aviation businesses that are based as airports. Relief will be granted regardlessof the rateable value of the property. The property must be occupied in order to be eligible.
  • Your business will be eligible for a 1.6 per cent relief regardless of rateable value. This measure effectively freezes the poundage rate for the coming year. This will not need to be applied for – it will automatically be applied to your bill.
  • You will be eligible for these reliefs even if you are already in receipt of another form of relief.
  • You may be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000 if your business is in the hospitality, leisure and retail sector and occupies a property with a rateable value of between £18,001 and £51,000. If your business occupies more than one property, you may be eligible for a further grant of up to £18,750 for each additional property.
  • You may be eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 if your business is eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Rate Relief.  If your business occupies more than one property, you may be eligible for a further grant of up to £7,500 for each additional property.
  • The deadline for applications for grants is July 10.

If your business is not eligible for the grants above, please read the following information:

  • If you pay your business rates through a landlord or are not in the rates system at all then you may now be eligible for a business support grant. You should now be able to apply for a £10,000 business support grant from your local authority if your business occupies a shared office space, business incubator or a shared industrial unit that is leased from a registered, rate-paying landlord.
  • If you own a small bed and breakfast businesses with no business bank account you could be eligible for support. From 15 June, you should be able to apply for a share of a £3 million fund designed to support small B&Bs. Eligibility criteria and details on how the application process will work are yet to be announced but further details of the commitment can be found at https://www.gov.scot/news/more-than-gbp-100-million-awarded-to-scottish-businesses/.

If you own a small or medium-sized business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information:

  • These new loans will be interest free for the first 12 months and backed 100 per cent by the UK Government. No repayments will be due in the first 12 months and the UK Government will pay any fees incurred. The loan term will be up to 6 years.
  • The UK Government is working with lenders to ensure that approved loans are paid out within days so that immediate support is available for those that need it the most.
  • You will be eligible to apply if your business is UK based, has been negatively affected by the virus and was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019.
  • You will be ineligible for these loans if your business operates as a bank, insurer or reinsurer (but not insurance brokers), a public body or a state-funded school.
  • You will not be able to apply if you are already claiming funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). However if you already have a loan with a lender under CBILS terms, you will be able to transfer it to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
  • The scheme is working to provide funding for business through term loans, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance.
  • The UK Government is providing lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on each loan to give them greater confidence in providing loans to small and medium sized businesses.
  • If you obtain a loan as part of this scheme, you will not be charged for this guarantee and nor will your lender.
  • You will be able to apply for loans worth up to £5 million, from over 40 lenders, interest free for the first twelve months as the UK Government will be covering the cost of the repayments.
  • All viable small businesses will now be able to access the scheme, not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing.
  • The UK Government is stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and is working urgently to speed up the application and approval process.
  • You should approach your own lender via their website in the first instance to see if you are eligible for funding, before approaching other lenders.

If you own a large business that is facing cash flow issues, please read the following information:

  • At present, CLBILS loans will provide a government guarantee of 80 per cent on loans of up to £25 million for firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £250 million.
  • At present, CLBILS loans will provide a government guarantee of 80 per cent on loans of up to £50 million for firms with an annual turnover that’s greater than £250 million.
  • Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.
  • Companies commonly sell short term debt, known as ‘commercial paper’, to the market. This is a quick and cost-effective way to raise working capital. The UK Government has worked with the Bank of England to set up a new Corporate Financing Facility, that will allow the Bank to buy short term debt from companies.
  • This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, enabling them to continue financing their short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

If you are concerned about facing insolvency, please read the following information:

  • The UK Government is changing insolvency laws to prevent businesses being forced to file for bankruptcy. Wrongful trading regulations will be suspended retrospectively to 1 March to ensure that company directors are not held personally liable for continuing to pay staff and suppliers even if there are fears the company could become insolvent.
  • Additionally, businesses going through restructuring will not be able to be put into administration by creditors and will continue to be able to access energy, broadband or raw materials.
  • Scotland’s insolvency service, Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB), has suspended sale and eviction from property in ongoing bankruptcy administrations until further notice.
  • The evidential requirements for individuals seeking debt relief through bankruptcy have been amended to allow faster access, providing protection from debt enforcement.
  • AiB is also reducing the need for face to face contact, allowing access to debt relief to be maintained by accepting electronic signatures on protected trust deeds and other documentation.
  • If you have an ongoing debt payment plan but are worried about how you will be able to pay, AiB will not be revoking these programmes.

If you are concerned about water fees, please read the following information:

  • A package worth £60 million has been agreed with water companies to help businesses that are facing difficulties with their water charges.
  • Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means water suppliers can now be flexible with their customers.
  • The Central Market Agency (CMA) has also agreed to suspend all ‘performance standard charges’ to allow licensed providers to focus on supporting customers.

If you are a business owner, or are self-employed and you are concerned about your tax bill, you may be eligible for support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service:

  • HMRC may agree, on a case by case basis, to assist with your business’ tax bill through the Time to Pay Service.
  • These arrangements are tailor made and based on individual circumstances and liabilities.

If you operate a research-focussed SME or a high-growth company, please read the following information:

  • The UK Government has launched a £500 million Future Fund to support the most innovative businesses in the country. You may be able to access grants or loans to ensure your company can continue during the crisis.
  • This fund is being delivered alongside the British Business Bank and will be open until September. The fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the UK Government, with private sector investors at least matching that investment.
  • To be eligible, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.
  • The UK Government is working with Innovate UK to provide £750 million of targeted support for the most R&D intensive small and medium size firms.
  • Innovate UK will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing customers. An extra £550 million will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding. 

If your business is in the fishing industry, please read the following information:

  • The ‘seafood resilience fund’ has now closed. Although this fund has now closed, you may still be eligible for support if you have not yet claimed. Please see below for further information.

If you are a small or medium sized business in the housebuilding sector, please read the following information:

  • You may be eligible for a short-term loan of up to £1 million. You will be eligible if your business is based in Scotland, builds 5 or more homes each year, has a turnover of less than £45 million, was financially viable before the crisis, has liquidity issues and cannot secure funding from other sources.
  • You will be able to apply for a loan of between £50,000 and £1 million at a fixed interest rate of 2 per cent per annum. Loans will be offered on flexible repayment terms, with the option for capital and interest payments to be offset for 12 months.  The majority of loans are expected to be repaid within 24 months.  You will be asked to confirm why existing support routes have not been successful.

OTHER INFORMATION FOR BUSINESSES

If your business wishes to help the government tackle COVID-19, please read the following information:

  • Businesses, third sector or voluntary organisations who wish to offer support should email the Scottish Government at covid19response@nullgov.scot with details such as your organisation’s key contact and their role, what you are offering and how it might be best applied, how quickly your support could be available and whether you are offering this as a donation or a chargeable service.

If you are unsure whether your business should be closed, please read the following information:

If your business is in the retail or manufacturing sector and planning to reopen in the near future, please read the following information:

  • New guidance has been published on what steps your business should take as the country begins to ease lockdown restrictions.

If you own a restaurant or a pub that serves food, you may be able to operate a hot food takeaway without the usual planning process:

If you are concerned about competition regulation, please read the following:

If you are concerned about off-payroll working rules (IR35), you should read the following information:

  • The UK Government announced on 17 March that the reform to the off-payroll working rules, known as IR35, that would have applied for people contracting their services to large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector, will be delayed for one year from 6 April 2020 until 6 April 2021.

If you are concerned about the impact of the deposit return scheme or tourist tax on your business, you should read the following information:

  • The go-live date for the deposit return scheme has been delayed until July 2022 to ensure that businesses are not burdened with this policy during a time of crisis.
  • The legislation to introduce the Transient Visitor Levy (‘tourist tax’) has been halted.

If you are unsure whether your business can make a claim on business interruption insurance, you should read the following information:

  • The UK and Scottish Government’s medical advice of 16 March is sufficient to enable those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure to make a claim – provided all other terms and conditions in their policy are met. Businesses should check the terms and conditions of their specific policy carefully and contact their providers if in doubt.
  • However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. This means they cannot claim regardless of whether government orders businesses to close. As such they should make use of the government support available to them.

If you are concerned about filing your accounts with Companies House, please read the following information:

  • From 25 March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a 3 month extension for filing their accounts. Those citing issues around COVI-19 will be immediately granted this extension, thereby avoiding an automatic penalty for late accounts.

If your business trades internationally, please read the following information:

INFORMATION FOR CHARITIES

If you are a third sector organisation under financial pressure, please read the following information:

  • The ‘Wellbeing Fund’ which was set up to support charities has now closed to applications.
  • If your charity occupies a property that is in receipt of any charitable or sports rate relief you can now apply to the Small Business Grant Scheme. You will be able to claim £10,000 on the first eligible property and £7,500 on any additional eligible properties. You should be able apply via your local authority. You can find their contact details at https://www.mygov.scot/find-your-local-council/.

If your organisation supports people with food deliveries or meals, please read the following information:

  • An additional £1.6 million has been allocated to FareShare Scotland who help support community food distribution. Further information is available at https://fareshare.org.uk/getting-food/.

If your charity works overseas, please read the following information:

  • The next UK Aid Direct funding round is open to organisations with an annual income of under £10 million. Those helping to tackle coronavirus or its impact on some of the world’s poorest people will be given priority for the grants, totalling £30 million. Further information is available at ukaiddirect.org.
  • If you are a small UK charity or non-profit organisation you may be eligible for a grant of up to £50,000 from the Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF). Further information is available at: https://www.ukaiddirect.org/apply/sccf/.

If your charity wishes to help the government tackle COVID-19, please read the following information:

  • Businesses, third sector or voluntary organisations who wish to offer support should email the Scottish Government at covid19response@nullgov.scot with details such as your organisation’s key contact and their role, what you are offering and how it might be best applied, how quickly your support could be available and whether you are offering this as a donation or a chargeable service.