Inverness Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Hub

These are unprecedented times. People are doing their best to protect the companies they have worked so hard to grow, as well as trying to safeguard their staff and continue to serve customers. Many are already dealing with significant falloffs in revenue. Cash flow of course is a worry to a great number of us. We are deeply sorry to see so many businesses under such pressure, and we are committed to working to the fullest of our abilities in order to help.

COVID-19 Useful Resources

We are delighted to have prepared a COVID-19 Business Survival Guide - a one stop shop for access to financial support schemes available to businesses, how and where to apply and further information on what the following schemes entail:

-Job Retention Scheme (The portal is now open, you begin to claim through this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme see the latest FAQs on the Job Retention Scheme here.
-Non-Domestic Rates/Grants
-CBILS Scheme (Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme) 
-Deferring Tax & Income Tax
-Paying Sick Pay To Employees

Get your copy of the guide here.

Work Place Risk Assessment Guide for SMEs
We're delighted to be able to share this useful resource which we’ve produced for our members and network in collaboration with our colleagues at Scottish Chambers of Commerce.  We believe it will help all SME’s with practical advice as they look to re-open their businesses and offices. Access the guide here.

COVID-19 HR Guide

Download our HR guide to navigating furlough staff as well support for employees being made redundant here.

A comprehensive Furlough FAQ can be found here, up to date as at 17th June 2020

Workplace Risk Assessment

See an example risk assessment and comprehensive guide here as well as a risk assessement template here, up to date as at 14th May 2020.

Further Guidance From Quest:
Getting Your Business Covid Secure - Manufacturing, Warehouse & Engineering - see guide here.
Getting Your Business Covid Secure - Office Environment - see guide here.
COVID-19 Signage guide here.

Staff Health and Wellbeing Support from Westfield Health

Our partners at Westfield Health are pleased to offer health and being webinars for organisations to help during COVID-19 as well as one to one sessions. Find out more about their services and some of the free resources here.

Winter Economy Summary
Download our Winter Economy Summary here where you will find information on:
The Job Support Scheme & who is eligible
SEISS (Self Employed Income Support Scheme) Grant Extension and who is eligible
Loan schemes
Tax and the VAT cut extention

Webinar Catch Up

Essential Business Protection webinar looked at how businesses can approach the risks and issues posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. ICC Chief Executive, Stewart Nicol, chaired a panel of experts including Ledingham Chalmers Partner and Head of Employment Law, Kirk Tudhope, who discussed:

The Job Retention Scheme: the known unknowns
Just what is a “furloughed worker”?
Can employers insist on changes to contracts in these unprecedented times?

George Moodie, Regional Head at Clydesdale Bank, looked at the financial assistance available, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, while Saffery Champness Partner, Eunice McAdam, discussed how businesses can best manage their cashflow.

Catch up on the webinar here

There were many questions around the Government’s job retention scheme and the furloughing of staff.  You can find Kirk’s latest update on that subject HERE.

Cost Cutting in Crisis Webinar discussed how to manage essential business costs during these challenging times, looking at making best use of available technologies.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce Deputy Chief Executive, Paula Nicol, was joined by a panel of experts, including:

George Michie, Managing Director, esave
David Munro, Head of Product, HighNet
David Garvie, Managing Director, sfG Software

From energy and utilities to telecoms, broadband and IT, we’ll looked at where your business can make savings and the technologies that can help improve business efficiency.
Catch up here

Your Business, Your Voice Webinar ICC in partnership with SCC delivered the Your Business, Your Voice Webinar where we were joined by over 60 Highland businesses across a range of sectors looking specifically at the lobbying work of the Scottish Chamber network. On the panel was Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive for Inverness Chamber and Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of commerce who discussed some of the lobbying achievements attained by the Scottish Chamber of Commerce network to date in relation to COVID-19 such as financial aid for companies with more than one business premises; the extension of the Job Retention Scheme which will now run until the end of June; as well as financial support for Self-Employed.

Liz’s key messages to the Highland Business community was “how can businesses engage with their chambers and government to assist in the preparation of the recovery plan – let’s work with the Scottish Government to come up with and implement solutions.” Liz strongly reminds our members to contribute their concerns and solutions to Inverness Chamber as this only strengthens our cases for submission to the Scottish Government.

As we strive for a parallel path of economic recovery whilst maintaining safety, Liz said: “Let’s take a leadership role as a business community as we navigate uncharted territory and devise solutions to take our businesses toward some level of normal functionality.” Scottish Chambers are also well aware of the ‘furlough gap’ and have raised the issue with Scottish Government. Watch the webinar here

Construction and Property Focus Webinar discussed the challenges faced by the construction and house building industry during COVID-19.

Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive, Inverness Chamber of Commerce were be joined by a panel of experts:

Contracts specialist Jane McMonagle, Partner, Brodies LLP
Disputes specialist Manus Quigg, Partner, Brodies LLP
Bill Hamilton, Managing Partner, KLM Partnership
Thom Macleod, Managing Director, Compass Construction & Construction Services

During this session, focus was on the situation across the Highlands to explore areas such as the differences between the law and government guidance, essential versus non-essential works, the impact on the supply chain and the way ahead for the industry. Watch the webinar Here.

Living Change Webinar 

This webinar looked at the impact of change on our organisations and teams and the importance of physical and mental wellbeing in developing resilience.

Details of the support available through Mikeysline is available here.

Westfield Health have created a series of guides to support employers and employees during COVID-19, which can be accessed here. Wellbeing toolkits for employers can also be found here. For more information, contact Louise O’Kane.

Thanks again to our panellists: Susannah Endeacott of KEA HR Partnerships; Donna Smith of Mikeysline/The Hive Project; and Richard Holmes of Westfield Health.

Catch up here.

Innovation,  IP and Looking Forward in a Crisis

Kate Macdonald from Capella IP gives an overview on how to protect your intellectual property. Catch up here

Defence & Security Accelerator Programme

Debra Carr from Defence and Security Accelerator Programme explains what funding opportunities may be available for your business to supply to the MOD while keeping your IP. Catch up here.

COVID-19 Lobbying For Business

Inverness Chamber of Commerce exists to Connect, Support and Represent our members and no more so than now. We recognise that we have a leading role to play across the whole of the business community and wider society of the Highlands and Islands. We are fulfilling this purpose through close collaboration with Highland and Island Chambers of Commerce, and both the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and British Chambers of Commerce Networks as we share information, news, and ways of supporting businesses.

On behalf of Inverness Chamber of Commerce Members, Board of Directors and the wider Highland business community, our Chief Executive, Stewart Nicol has written to our MPs in collaboration with Chief Executives from across the Scottish Chamber of Commerce Network in relation to the challenge we are all facing from the Covid-19 pandemic. You can read his comments here.

We are following the guidelines issued by both the Scottish and UK Governments and NHS Scotland and urge all members to do likewise. You may find the following links helpful:

www.scottishchambers.org.uk/press-releases/businesssupportcovid19/
www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/coronavirus
www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19
www.findbusinesssupport.gov.scot
www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

You Asked, We Delivered

We are pleased to issue Inverness Chamber's ‘You Asked We Delivered’ publication showcasing the breadth of business representation we have undertaken and the results we have achieved as a Network on behalf of our collective business membership and wider Highland Business Community.

ICC Chief Executive Stewart Nicol said: "To say these past two months have been extraordinary would be a gross understatement. Never before has Inverness Chamber of Commerce and the wider Scottish Chambers
network been more critical in its role in supporting and bringing both business and Governments together in order to find ways to support our communities, employees and economy. With 30 Chamber offices across Scotland and over 12,500 members, once again the Chambers reach and localism has enabled Inverness Chamber and our network to step up for our members and deliver the critical messages and lobbying our businesses need We have a long and challenging journey ahead and it is important that we continue to
work together as Scotland's business voice." 

Please find the publication here

Finance Scheme Application Details

Applications are now being accepted for the Small Business Grant by The Highland Council. You can download the form here. Please complete all of the parts of this application that apply to you in full, and email a copy to your local authority at COVID-19grants@highland.gov.uk. The Highland Council will review your application and assess if you are eligible for the grant. Councils will aim to make payment within 10 working days from receipt of a fully completed application. The deadline for applications to the Business Support Fund is 31 March 2021.

UPDATE | Small Business Grant (as at 28/04/2020)
Following further guidance from the Scottish government the Highland Council has amended the application form for small business grants to enable tenants who are the rateable occupier of properties to apply for the grant even if they are not the registered ratepayers.

Applicants must be able to fulfil the other criteria and provide evidence that they are the rateable occupier of the property . This could be a letter form the landlord( registered ratepayer of the property) confirming that the applicant was the rateable occupier of the property as at 17th march 2020.

Applications may have been previously rejected from tenants who were not the registered ratepayers. Applicants should submit the amended form with relevant documentation.

Find the form here

The Highland Council has also launched a free helpline that will give advice on a wide range of things including businesses who may need help with financial support. The single line number – 0300 303 1362 – will connect callers to relevant Council specialist teams and will operate Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm. All calls are free. 

Small business grant scheme extended to self-catering businesses
The Highland Council today launched its revised guidance on behalf of the Scottish Government, with grants of £10,000 and £25,000 becoming available for eligible self-catering businesses.

Recognising the concerns raised by the tourism industry, on behalf of self-caterers, the Scottish Government small business grant scheme has been expanded to include self-catering properties and caravans where receipts represent a primary source (for example, one third or more) of earnings for the ratepayer and the property has been let out for 140 days or more in the financial year 2019-20.

Only one grant is allowed per ratepayer across Scotland regardless of the number of premises held. Businesses are asked to go to the Council’s website here, complete the Application Form and return it to COVID-19self-catering-grants@highland.gov.uk

Additional Business Funding Annoucement 30/04/2020

The Scottish Government’s additional £100m fund for businesses impacted by COVID-19 will be open for applications from 2pm.

Companies can find full details on Highlands and Islands Enterprise partnership website Find Business Support. This grant funding has been divided into three distinct funds:

• The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – a £45m fund for viable but vulnerable SMEs who are vital to Scotland’s economy.

• The Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund – a £20m fund for small creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of COVID-19 business rates relief.

• The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund – a £35m fund for the newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants.

Details of how and where to apply are found here: https://bit.ly/2Sic41y

The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund will be delivered by local authorities. Links to individual local authority applications are available via the Find Business Support website here: https://bit.ly/2Sic41y

Connecting Highland Businesses

During this time we believe community spirit has never been so needed, yet so prevalent throughout the community and we are extremely humbled by the acts of kindness we have observed as we're sure a lot of you are, too. With that said, we encourage you to use our Closed LinkedIn Group to continue supporting, collaborating and sharing useful information with your Highland colleagues. ICC are interested in hearing your good news stories which we will promote across our social channels and upcoming newsletter.

Can we remind you of the additional support that is available to our members from a number of partners:

HR, H&S and Legal Services: www.questcover.com
Westfield Health: www.westfieldhealth.com/chamber/chamber-primary-health-plan

Our various teams are all working from home and the office is staffed on an ad hoc basis. We are aiming to provide all of you with the best service and support we can, despite the circumstances. As you will appreciate, upcoming events have been cancelled, postponed, or are on hold. For the latest information on our events programme, please check out our website:
www.inverness-chamber.co.uk/events

Our emails are all being monitored, and the phone system is fully functioning with numbers forwarded appropriately. If you do need to contact us, the best means are by:
Phone: 01463 718131
Email: info@inverness-chamber.co.uk

We wish you and your teams the very best in combating this huge economic challenge and are pledged to help you in any way possible.
The whole team at Inverness Chamber of Commerce is ready to offer any help we can with any specific issues or concerns.