Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Business support

Ayrshire Business Support Helpline 0330 678 1611

Our Business Support Team is here to help East Ayrshire businesses.

To find out more about any local support which may be available, you can  email our Business Support team or call our business support helpline on 0330 678 1611 to speak to your local advisers.

The helpline is open:

  • Monday - Thursday, 9am to 5pm
  • Friday 9am to 4pm

Calls are charged at local rate.

Caring kind connected logoGuidance on test and protect data gathering

To assist contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland's Test and Protect service, the Scottish Government has published guidance to support businesses with data gathering. Full details can be found on the Scottish Government's website.

Business gateway back to business webinars

Business Gateway is hosting a regular programme of webinars from 2-31 July. Find out more and book Business Gateway Webinars (PDF 528Kb)

East Ayrshire business hardship fund

All our available funding for the East Ayrshire Business Hardship Grant scheme has now been allocated. This means we can no longer accept applications for this fund. However our Business Support Team can help with further advice. Please contact Business Support:  business@east-ayrshire.gov.uk

Latest guidance on safe operation of businesses during COVID-19 

In light of recent UK and Scottish Government announcements about resumption of some business activity.

New guidance 

The Scottish Government has published the initial workplace sector guidance for easing lockdown restrictions. The guides published are for  manufacturing and  retail with linked customer guidance and  consideration on how people can safely return to work.

They include advice on equipment and services needed to create the conditions for safer workplaces and detailed steps required for businesses to consider for reopening.  Our Regulatory Services and Business Support  teams will provide the necessary business support and regulation during the easing of lockdown restrictions . 

Until then, current restrictions remain in place, and we ask all businesses to remain patient and only plan to open when permitted to do so while sticking to  Scottish Government health advice 

Businesses must be guided by The Health Protection (Coronavirus)(Restrictions)(Scotland) Regulations 2020 as amended. This details:

  • businesses which must close
  • businesses which can operate subject to restrictions

Businesses not mentioned above must implement physical (social) distancing for staff and customers.

Before you contemplate re-opening

You must be able to demonstrate and give confidence to your workforce that they can consistently practice safe infection prevention and control and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements. 

If you are unable to implement these additional controls, you should stop operating and seriously consider closing the business until such time as the additional control requirements are relaxed.

Complaints

Complaints regarding businesses will be investigated by East Ayrshire Council and may result in a Prohibition Notice preventing further operation.

Practical aspects for you and your employees 

  1. The importance of regular effective hand washing by employees.
  2. Implementing social distancing measures.  Everyone working in the business should ensure social distancing is adhered to.  Control measures can include staggering shifts, changing the layout of offices to ensure 2m distancing is maintained.  Also removing communal facilities or staggering breaks on a rota. Social distancing is as important at break times and travelling to and from work with your colleagues.
  3. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures.  Proper clean downs between shifts, of surfaces and equipment and enhanced cleaning of touch points. Contactless payments where possible.

Further information

For specific advice on whether your business is permitted to be operating can be obtained by emailing our Environmental Health or Trading Standards teams.

For additional guidance on social distancing or to access a broader range of business support mechanisms available from East Ayrshire Council please email our Economic Development team.

Coronavirus business support fund

Please note that applications to this fund closed on 10 July 2020.

Update - tenant/occupier fund

From the 8 June 2020, if you are a tenant or occupier of  a premises such as shared office spaces, business incubators and shared industrial units and your landlord is the registered rate payer, you may be eligible for a single, one-off £10,000 small business grant. 

Strict verification criteria for such small businesses but the grant is available irrespective of the use or rateable value of the property.  You can tenant/occupier may only receive a single grant under this scheme.

Apply online

Fill in our Tenant/Occupier Grant application form

Tenant/occupier grant online form 

What if I run my business from more than one property? 

Small Business Support Grant

From 5 May 2020, ratepayers with multiple business properties meeting the criteria are eligible to receive a one-off grant of £10,000 for their first property, and £7,500 for each subsequent qualifying property. These are only available to ratepayers whose premises were occupied on 17 March 2020 for the business uses specified.

Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Support Grant

From 5 May 2020, ratepayers with multiple business properties which meet these criteria are eligible to receive a one-off grant of £25,000 for their first property and £18,750 for each subsequent qualifying property. These are only available to a ratepayer whose premises were occupied on 17 March 2020 for the business uses specified.

Update - increased rateable value range

From 8 June 2020, the range and upper limit of the cumulative rateable value has been increased from £35,001-£51,000 to £35,001 - £500,000. 

What are the grants for?

These grants aim to help keep companies in business and maintain productive capacity so that they can recover. They should:

  • protect jobs
  • prevent business closure
  • promote economic recovery

Before you apply

Unfortunately we have had some claims which have been rejected because they do not comply with the criteria as laid down by the Scottish Government. Before you apply, please check that your business meets following conditions:

  • Small Business Support Grant - £10K
  • Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Support Grant - £25K
  • You can only apply for this grant if your business is in the the retail, hospitality or leisure sector

How can I apply?

To apply for these grants you need:

  • Rates Reference Number - this should be an 8 digit number beginning with 3.  If you do not know your rates number please  email us
  • Make sure the information you submit matches that shown on your last rates bill if you have it 
  • Proof of bank details (for example, bank statement or a screenshot from an online banking app). This proof must be less than three months old and clearly show name, account and sort code number.  

Please note that we cannot apply local discretion and we must follow Scottish Government guidance.

Apply online

Fill in our Business Support Fund online application form

Scottish Government support for the newly self employed  

Applications for this grant closed on 10 July 2020.

Newly self-employed hardship fund

Applications for this grant closed on 10 July 2020.

HMRC 

From today 4 May, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin contacting customers who may be eligible for the government’s  Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment.

HMRC is also inviting customers, or their agents, to  go online and check their eligibility for SEISS.  You can read more here

Further information for self-employed

New business support grants announced on 30 April

The Scottish Government has announced two new types of COVID-19 financial Business Support. 

  • The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – a £45m fund for viable but vulnerable SME firms vital to Scotland’s economy
  • The Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund – a £20m fund for small creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of COVID-19 business rates relief

Pivotal enterprise resilience fund

Support will be targeted at businesses that can demonstrate the following:

  • Drive economic prosperity – for example through wages, employment, exports, supply chain
  • Are a supplier or potential supplier to NHS or other COVID-19 vital services
  • Are suppliers to other essential businesses
  • Can scale up or diversify due to COVID-19 opportunities
  • Continue to trade or can quickly come out of hibernation
  • Play an important role within their local community

The fund is aimed at companies:

  • with up to 249 employees that have been trading successfully prior to COVID-19  
  • with less than £50m turnover or balance sheet total of £43m
  • with the ability to demonstrate the funding will support the business to be viable
  • not in financial difficulty before 31 December 2019
  • with a business bank account

You can apply for this grant on the  FindBusinessSupport website.

Creative, tourism and hospitality enterprises hardship fund

For creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of other COVID-19 business rates relief or other COVID-19 grant funding and who require funding of up to £25,000 to contribute to a short-term cash flow gap.

This fund is aimed at companies:

  • with up to 49 employees
  • which have experienced at least a 50% loss of current or projected revenue
  • which were not in financial difficulty pre 31 December 2019
  • not in receipt of other COVID-19 government grant support, except Furlough Scheme
  • not  pre-revenue companies
  • which have a business bank account

For the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund companies must provide:

  • company information
  • bank details
  • financial Information
  • working capital gap, cash flow projection

The grant is needs based and successful applicants will be able to provide evidence of or demonstrate financial hardship due to COVID-19. 

Read our FAQs (PDF 380Kb)

Apply for this grant on the  FindBusinessSupport website.

Help us to help you by filling in our survey

We know these are challenging times for everyone in business.

We want to understand how your business has been affected, what challenges (and in some cases the opportunities), you face, how you are responding and what support you are getting.

Please help us to help you by completing this  survey. We will use your responses to help shape a recovery strategy for East Ayrshire.

Coronavirus job retention scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers can access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.  Read more on the UK Government support.

The  Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has also opened for applications. It supports term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and more. It can provide facilities of up to £5 million for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow.

Business scams

The spread of coronavirus means more people are working from home than ever before. This provides fewer opportunities to talk to colleagues, a different work environment  and may result in increased stress.

Criminals have taken advantage of these changes to target employees who are more isolated from colleagues, in order to gain sensitive information or make payments. They will also try to gain access to business devices and networks and everything stored on them. Scams include:

  • fake COVID-19 grant payments
  • tax refund frauds
  • false invoices for face masks

The increased risk for businesses has led  National Trading Standards to encourage more businesses to join  Businesses Against ScamsThe initiative provides free tools for businesses to help upskill and train their workforce, through free online training modules that will help staff identify and prevent potential scams. 

BeReady

We provide free practical advice from specialist HR and financial management consultants via the beReady programme, delivered remotely and addressing what employers should be doing now to look after their employees and to safeguard the future of their businesses.

Existing beReady projects will continue to be delivered and new projects supported, with all consultants working directly with companies via telephone, Skype, Go ToMeeting or other remote communication tools.

Please email enquiries to business@east-ayrshire.gov.uk

Watch this short webinar by Business Gateway on the practical steps you can take just now to help you plan for any disruption.

Scottish Enterprise has issued this advice on business continuity

Public houses/restaurants offering takeaway service 

Many public houses and restaurants do not currently have planning permission to operate as takeaway premises selling food and drink for consumption outside the premises.  

Given the current situation however, it is vital that support is given to these businesses to allow them to maximise opportunities to maintain a revenue stream and avoid potential closure. Similarly, having local businesses providing takeaway services will enable members of the public to order goods and services with minimum exposure to risk of infection from coronavirus. 

The Scottish Government has stated that, during the current exceptional circumstances, planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting public houses and restaurants from providing takeaway services.

All of this will be reviewed after three months, and it would be the Scottish Government’s intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has passed.

Read further advice from Environmental Health

Health and safety guidance posters

Download and print these guidelines for your business:

Retailer distribution restrictions relaxed to ease delivery pressures

Many supermarkets, other retailers and distribution centres are subject to controls which restrict deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles to set hours. These include planning conditions, which are necessary to make the development acceptable to local residents who might otherwise suffer from traffic, noise and other local amenity issues as a result of these deliveries.     

Given the exceptional challenges facing the country from the coronavirus however, it is vital that deliveries of food and other essential products over the coming weeks can be made as quickly and safely as possible, minimising disruption to the supply chains on which our communities depend. The likely pressures on driver capacity mean additional flexibility is needed so that retailers can accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary.   

The Scottish Government has written to all Scottish Local Authorities advising that these restrictions should be temporarily relaxed. Read the letter (PDF 159Kb)  

Business rates relief and grants announced

The Scottish Government has announced a range of support that includes rates relief for Scottish businesses and grants for businesses in some sectors that are likely to be most affected. Read the details of Scottish Government £2.2bn support

Help with non-domestic rates

To help owners of non-domestic properties deal with the impact of Coronavirus, the Scottish Government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) for 2020-21 and a one-off grant for business. Read more about non-domestic rates relief

Help with statutory sick pay

Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to two weeks per employee. Further assistance has been given in the recent UK Government budget including:

  • A refund covering up to two weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.
  • 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 will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP. (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  • Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force.
  • The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

Helpline and useful links

The Scottish Government business helpline number is 0300 303 0660.

The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

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Contact Information

Business Support
Opera House
8 John Finnie Street
Kilmarnock
KA1 1DD
Telephone: 0330 678 1611 (Ayrshire Business Support Helpline)
Economic Development
Opera House
8 John Finnie Street
Kilmarnock
KA1 1DD
Telephone: 01563 503237
Council Headquarters
London Road
Kilmarnock
East Ayrshire
KA3 7BU
Contact us online: www.eastayrshi.re/contactus
Save time, do it online: www.our.east-ayrshire.gov.uk
Telephone: 01563 554400
Textphone: 01563 576167
24 Hour Emergency Helpline: 0345 724 0000 (local rate)