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First Business Hardship Funds paid out to Highland businesses hit by coronavirus restrictions

By Ian Duncan

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Highland Council headquarters on Glenurquhart Road.
Highland Council headquarters on Glenurquhart Road.

Following its launch on Tuesday Highland Council has received and paid out the first Business Hardship Fund grants.

As part of the Scottish Government’s response to the Covid-19 Brake Restrictions which came into effect on October 9, the council has been asked to deliver this grant scheme on the government's behalf – across Highland region 800 businesses will benefit from a total funding pot of £1.23 million.

Following the First Minister’s announcement on October 21, the value of the grants has increased and now grants of £1,440 or £2155, dependent on rateable value, are available for eligible businesses up to a maximum of £14,000 if the business has multiple premises.

To be eligible for the grant, the business must be either a hospitality business or a producer/wholesale business based in Scotland supplying primarily short-life goods or produce to hospitality businesses which have been required to close – this also includes certain gyms which are required to operate in a restricted way.

Applicants must be able to show evidence of a 25 per cent reduction in turnover during the current brake period.

Councillor Trish Robertson, the chairwoman of the council’s economy and infrastructure committee, said: “The Scottish Government is making this grant available only to certain food and drink premises that are serving food and drink to non-residents and who have been obliged to change their working practices.

"As hospitality businesses such as guest houses, bed and breakfast, hostels and self-catering are still allowed to accept guests and can provide catering for them where this is part of their normal business offer, the Scottish Government have excluded them from this grant scheme.

“I advise business owners to go to Covid-19 Business Grant page on the Council’s website , read carefully the guidance provided, check to see if they are eligible, and if they are, to urgently complete the online application form.”

Councillor Margaret Davidson, the council leader, said: “This grant can provide vital support for businesses affected and although the criteria to qualify will not cover all businesses, I urge any business owners who are eligible to apply before the deadline of 5pm on Tuesday, November 3. People must act now and ensure that together we get as much of the available grant as possible to Highland businesses.

“We also ask that business complete the application form accurately and provide the right evidence. If they do not do this and we need go back to them, this not only delays the payment of their grant but delays others getting their grants as well.”

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