Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Business support

Ayrshire Business Support Helpline 0330 678 1611

Our Business Support Team is here to help East Ayrshire businesses

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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 to Thursday, 9am to 5pm

  • Friday 9am to 4pm

Calls are charged at local rate.

Sign up for an alert

To receive an email update about this and other Business Support and funding available, sign up with our StayConnected Business Support bulletin.

Frequently asked questions

Before you call our Business Support Team for help, you may find an answer to your query in our frequently asked questions.

East Ayrshire Discretionary Fund

Phase 2 of East Ayrshire Discretionary Fund launched on 7 April 2021. This fund is open to eligible businesses who did not make an application to Phase 1. 

It will provide a one-off payment of £4,000 comprising a £2,000 closure grant and a £2,000 restart grant. 

Already have Phase 1 Funding? 

If your business already made a successful application to Phase 1  you do not need to re-apply  -  you will automatically receive Phase 2 funds. 

First time applications

If your business is applying for the first time, you will also receive the £2K awarded in Phase 1. 

Who is the fund for? 

The Fund is for businesses which fall into one of the following three categories

  • supply goods or services to those who have been closed or restricted by COVID
  • are facing hardship as an indirect consequence of the current COVID restrictions but which weren't eligible for financial support through the Strategic Framework Business Fund
  • which do not have business premises and don't qualify for grants attached to the rates system.

Other eligibility includes:

  • must be a small or micro enterprise employing less than 50 staff
  • must be ineligible for any scheme of support introduced since October by Scottish Government, this will also include any new schemes of support which have been or may be announced by the Scottish Government prior to the end of March 2021
  • business is not connected to a tax haven, as set out in the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No 2) Act 2020
  • must be able to present robust evidence (for example, profit and loss accounts, invoices and receipts, details of contracts lost, cancelled booking diaries/work schedules, cancelled customer bookings) to show that income in the period October to December 2020 was at least 30% lower than in the equivalent period in 2019
  • must be able to provide evidence (for example, proof of cancellations/lost bookings) that loss of income was as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, for example, travel restrictions or supply of goods/services to businesses that have been directly required to close/modify operations
  • in the event that a business was established in 2020, it must have been trading as of 17 March 2020
  • businesses will be required to provide evidence of active trading in the period before restrictions came into place on 9 October 2020
  • self-employed will be required to confirm that self-employment makes up at least 50% of their income from employment
  • must provide details and evidence of a business bank account (in the form of an uploaded bank statement) into which grant payments will be made (in the case of self-employed discretion will be applied as long as there is clear evidence of trading from the personal bank statements provided)
  • business premises (where applicable) must be registered for non-domestic rates.  Businesses that pay rates through their landlords rather than directly must provide evidence of this
  • business has not breached wider COVID-19 regulations/requirements leading to enforcement action
  • open to Limited Companies (including Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations and social enterprises), Sole Traders, Trusts, Partnerships (only one application per partnership will be considered), Community Interest Companies, freelancers or the self-employed
  • non premise based businesses will be required to provide evidence to demonstrate proof of identity (for example passport) and address (for example Council tax bill, utility bill)

Application and assessment process

You can apply for the East Ayrshire Discretionary Fund here 

  • Applications close at 5.00pm on 14 April 2021. 
  • Resources are limited. This scheme will be operated on a first come basis.
  • We expect a large number of applications for this fund and will assess these strictly in the order in which we receive them. 
  • If we need more nformation in relation to your application, our advisers will contact you  by email and will give you seven working days to upload that information; should you be unable to upload any additional information in the timescale your application will be declined. 

We aim to make payments from this scheme within 10 working days of application being approved. 

Small accommodation providers paying council tax

The Support for Small Accommodation Providers Paying Council Tax Fund (SAP-CTF) is to support small accommodation providers in Scotland that pay council tax, including B&Bs, guest houses and self-catering properties, and which have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

All B&Bs, self-catering businesses and guest houses that were previously supported by either the Bed and Breakfast Hardship Fund or the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Hardship Fund are automatically eligible for support under this scheme. These businesses have been contacted and invited to register for payment. 

All business must be re-registered by 22 March 2021 to receive payment. Payments will be made as soon as possible once a business is registered.

Applications for new entrants to the fund opened on 15 March 2021. The fund will be open for one week, and will close to applications on 22 March 2021. 

For full details please visit the Scottish Government's website Support for Small Accommodation Providers Paying Council Tax Fund.

How to apply

To receive the application form email business@east-ayrshire.gov.uk. Applications must be completed and returned by 4pm, Monday 22 March 2021.

Mobile and home based close contact services fund

Find out about eligibility and how to apply by visiting the Scottish Government's Mobile and Home-Based Close Contact Services Fund page on the Find Business Support website. 

New self-employed hardship fund

Find out about eligibility and how to apply by visiting the  Scottish Government's Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund page on the Find Business Support website.

Support for travel agents

The Scottish Government recognises the specific challenges faced by travel agents in Scotland. This Support for Travel Agents fund has been established to give one-off grants to eligible businesses through local authorities.

The level of grant awarded depends on the rateable value of the premises from which you operate. This takes the form of a one-off grant of:

  • £10,000 for premises which have a rateable value of up to and including £18,000
  • £25,000 for premises which have a rateable value of £18,001 or above

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for support through this fund you: 

  • must be an agency, limited company or sole trader
  • must sell outbound travel services to customers for business and/or leisure purposes
  • must operate from fixed premises that are registered for Non-Domestic rates in a Scottish local authority area

Businesses that operate from multiple premises are able to apply for funding for each of the premises from which they operate. However, this will be subject to subsidy control in line with the EU’s State Aid Temporary Framework.

How do I apply?

Our Business Support Team will contact all travel agents in East Ayrshire direct to seek the necessary information to confirm your eligibility and process your payment.

Brewers support fund

The Scottish Government recognises that Scotland's brewing sector has faced unprecedented challenges since March 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Brewers Support Fund is administered through local authorities and will provide one-off grants of up to £30,000 to eligible businesses.

The level of grant awarded depends on the rateable value of the premises in which the brewery is located and will also take into account annual production level. Awards are as follows:

  • £10,000 for premises which have a rateable value of up to and including £18,000
  • £25,000 for premises which have a rateable value of £18,001 or above
  • £30,000 for a property from which they operate with a rateable value of over £51,000 or production over 5,000HL in 2019

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for this fund you must be a brewery located in Scotland and registered as producers with HMRC under Excise Duty 226.  

How do I apply? 

If your premises is in East Ayrshire, Our Business Support Team will be in touch to seek the necessary information to confirm eligibility and process your payment.

Support for indoor football centres

This Scottish Government Support for Indoor Football Centres fund is administered through your local council and will provide one-off grants of up to £25,000 to eligible businesses. The level of grant awarded will depend on the rateable value of the premises from which they operate. Financial assistance will be paid, as a one-off grant of:

  • £10,000 for premises which have a rateable value of up to and including £18,000
  • £25,000 for premises which have a rateable value of £18,001 or above

Am I eligible?

To be eligible:

  • indoor football centres must operate from premises that pay Non-Domestic rates and be wholly indoor; hybrid centres with indoor and outdoor facilities are excluded.
  • Businesses that operate from multiple premises can apply for funding for each of the premises.

How do I apply?

Our Business Support Team will be in touch to seek the necessary information to confirm eligibility and process the payment.

Retail, leisure, and hospitality top up grants

Following the  recent Scottish Government announcement about top up grants to retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, we now have information about the associated guidance and criteria.

In most cases, eligible businesses that have already applied for the 4 weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will get an automatic additional payment around the end of January.  For further details on the level of top up grant and all other current support, please visit Find Business Support.

Applications for the top up fund closed on Friday 5 February 2021. 

Tourism and hospitality guidance

The Scottish Government has published guidance relating to the tourism and hospitality sector.

You can also find details of funds and support available for tourism and events businesses, B&Bs and self catering establishments and guidance on adapting following the UK departure from the EU, on the Visit Scotland webpage

Guidance 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. Find out more and book Business Gateway Webinars.

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 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.

Scottish Government support for the newly self employed

HMRC

From 4 May, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin contacting customers who may be eligible for the government 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.

This scheme has now been extended  from November 2020 until April 20201.  As long as you were eligible for the first and second SEISS grants you can still apply now, even if you did not claim those  original grants

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:

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. 

You can find out more about coronavirus related scams and how to report them on our  Environmental Health and Trading Standards webpage

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 (COVID-19), the Scottish Government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) and a one-off grant for business.

100% COVID-19 Retail, Hospitality, Leisure and Aviation (RHLA) relief will be extended for the whole of the 2021/22.

While there are no changes to eligibility from last year, an application will now be required for this relief in 2021/22. Where the Council deems your property eligible based on the information provided, this will be awarded and will appear in your Non-Domestic Rates bill for the financial year 2021/22.

Applications should be submitted before the 28 March 2021 to ensure your relief is applied to your 2021/22 annual rates bill. Applications will be accepted after 28 March 2021, and if you are awarded this relief we will issue a revised bill.

Apply for retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation 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 can 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.

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)