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
-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.

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 16th April 2020.

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

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

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

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.