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.

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The helpline is open:

  • Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm

  • Friday 9am to 4pm

Calls are charged at local rate.

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£30m Discretionary Fund

The First Minister announced The Scottish Government's new £30million discretionary fund on 17 November. This enables local authorities across Scotland to to direct funding to  those businesses experiencing immediate financial challenges as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and regulations, who are not entitled to any other financial support and have been without financial support since October.  

We will publish further  information about this fund, including  details of the eligibility criteria and application process as soon as this is available.

Strategic Framework Business Fund

Who is the funding for?

Linked to  Scotland's Strategic Framework, the purpose of this grant available from 2 November 2020, is to provide support to specific businesses closed or directly impacted by law, in the form of:

  • Business Temporary Closure Fund - a grant of £2,000 or £3,000 (depending on rateable value) for business required to close by law. This grant is payable every four weeks in arrears while protective measures are in place

  • Business Restrictions Fund - a grant of £1,400 or £2,100 (depending on rateable value) for businesses that remain open but are specifically required to modify their operations by protective measures. This grant is payable every four weeks in arrears while measures are in place.  This means that your business is legally required to close earlier than normal, for example,  not that you have to adopt physical distancing or that the demand for your products or services has been reduced because of the pandemic or other restrictions which impact on individuals and communities.

Businesses that operate multiple premises can apply for a grant for each premise which is eligible.  All premises should be included in one application to the Local Authority area in which your business is headquartered.

The upper limits of £15,000 or £10,500 in any four week period apply to business entities.  Individual ratepayers with more than one business may receive grants up to the upper limited for each separate business entity. 

Check whether your business is eligible on the Scottish Government webpage

How will the grant be paid?

Payments are administered by local authorities. If restrictions are extended beyond four weeks you will not need to re-apply and your payments will continue.  When restrictions end, any final payment in arrears will be adjusted to reflect the duration of the restrictions. 

How to apply

Applications can be made online from Monday 16 November 2020.  Evidence required to complete the online application will include:

  • Rates reference number or copy of lease agreement if rates are paid through a landlord
  • Business bank account statement clearly showing sort code and account number
  • Proof of trading:
    • Company: (inc. Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations and Community Interest Companies): Certificate of Incorporation or Companies House/SCIO registration number
    • Partnership: Partnership agreement or HMRC registration
    • Sole Trader: HMRC registration, self assessment documents or valid business insurance document
    • Trust: Constitution documents, HMRC registration or VAT registration document
  • VAT registration number (if VAT registered)

Apply online and submit your supporting evidence.

SFBF online application form

Business Contingency Fund

The Scottish Government previously announced an £11m package of support for businesses closed by law since March 2020. 

The first phase of the Contingency Fund provided one-off grants to nightclubs and soft-play centres. 

Applications for this fund closed on Sunday 13 December 2020, with a final date for any appeals set as Sunday 10 January 2021

Tourism and hospitality guidance

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

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’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.

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, 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 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.

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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)