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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme update

Jim Harra, from HMRC has issued an update on the JRS.

 

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The government is committed to doing whatever it takes to support businesses and individuals through the Coronavirus pandemic. On 20 March as part of these efforts the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This funding will be open to all employers with a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, including charities. Employers can apply for grants of 80% of furloughed employees' (employees on a leave of absence) monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage, provided they keep the worker employed. The scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020, if applicable.

HMRC have been working night and day to develop this scheme, and we can now confirm that we have been able to publish further details of the scheme on GOV‌.UK. We are aiming to have the scheme up and running by the end of April 2020. More detailed guidance will be published in due course and please be assured we will advise you when the scheme is open.

Guidance for employers is available on GOV.UK. You may also find the guidance for employees helpful.

We recommend you view the guidance which will be updated as the scheme is further developed, and in line with any further government announcements.

In the meantime, we will continue to keep you informed to ensure that you have access to the assistance you need.

Yours sincerely

jharra

Jim Harra

First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive – HMRC

Announcement From Chancellor Regarding Self-Employed

Self-employed workers will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to help them cope with the financial impact of coronavirus, the chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced. 

 

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The money will be paid in a single lump sum, but will not begin to arrive until the start of June at the earliest.

Self-employed people will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

Mr Sunak said the grants would be available to people across the UK for at least three months, and longer if necessary.

The scheme does not cover people who only became self-employed very recently - they will have to look to the benefits system for support.

But in all, the chancellor said 95% of people who earn most of their income via self-employment would be covered.

An more detailed overview of the support announced will follow, but below is a snap-shot of the measures announced this evening for the new 'Self Employed - Income Support Scheme':

  • Taxable Grant of 80% of average earnings over last 3 years up to a maximum of £2,500 and up to trading profits of £50,000;
  • The fund will be open for 3 months but will extend if necessary;
  • Available for those with a tax return to end 2019;
  • Businesses can claim these grants as well as continue to carry out business;
  • It is not available until the beginning of June 2020 but will be backdated;
  • HMRC will contact direct and businesses to complete a simple form;
  • Those that haven't filed a self assessment form will be given an additional 4 weeks from today to complete their Tax Return from January 2020; and
  • Those that have not filed a tax return can apply for Business Interruption Loans.

 

liz cameron SCC Chief Exec

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“The chancellor has managed to deliver a support package for the self-employed that prioritises the good over the perfect.

"It is a complex issue and we acknowledge the challenge the Treasury has faced to make sure they aren’t forgotten.

 

“In the main, this support scheme will be a great relief to the vast bulk of the 320,000 self-employed people in Scotland who are essential to the fabric of our economy particularly in rural areas.

"Our plea now is that cash must flow quickly to support our businesses, employees and communities.”

D&G Council allocates £105k of Local Business Funding in first 24 hours

Dumfries and Galloway Council has set up a dedicated Economic Recovery Team in response to the economic emergency caused by the current pandemic and we have already managed to send out over £105k of grant support to 10 local businesses within the first 24 hours of the grant scheme going live, one of the first Councils in Scotland to distribute this vital funding.

The Council's first priority is to help local businesses to access the Scottish Government’s Small Business Grant Scheme which was launched this week.

The Coucil asked local businesses to get in touch with the team as soon as possible so that they could start the process of getting help to where it is needed most,

Local businesses receiving this first tranche of funding, included local hotels, guest houses, licenced premises and hairdressers.  All have had their trade severely affected by the current restrictions.

The first local business to receive their grant funding said: “Thank you so much for this, it will be a tremendous help to my business to get me through this horrible time. I would just like to say a massive thank you to yourself, team members, and to Dumfries and Galloway council for all their support and help at this time. Please take care and stay safe. Many thanks.”

These grants are paid through the Council, and an application form to apply for these is available along with further information on various forms of support and criteria at: https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/article/20660/COVID-19-Support-for-Local-Businesses.  The Council received over 500 applications over the first 2 days and will be working seven days per week to ensure payments are issued as quickly as possible. 

Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee, Rob Davidson said:

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“I am delighted to hear that not only have so many of you got in touch, but also that our team are responding so quickly and paying out this essential money to our local businesses who are facing financial hardship. I am aware that getting payments out as early as possible could be essential to businesses surviving long-term through this crisis and would like to reassure you that we are doing all that we can to assist.”

ABI Guidance On Unoccupied Properties

ABI have providedus withy updated guidance on unoccupied properties with other business insurance information also available.

 

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How are insurers supporting unoccupied premises where businesses are temporarily closed?

If a business has to temporarily close because of Covid-19, where customers are taking the appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of damage to the property while unoccupied, insurers will be flexible around the period of un-occupancy specified on the policy document.


Policies will often include conditions that are intended to ensure good practice in protecting buildings of damage caused by the risk of fire, theft and escape of water, which are often increased when a building is empty.  It is important that business owners continue to follow risk management advice and ensure they understand what steps they need to take.


Some insurers have also waived requirements for their business customers to immediately notify them of their unoccupied status, (depending on the individual business circumstances), to allow customers to concentrate on managing their businesses, and to allow insurers call centres to focus on managing the significant number of insurance claims being processed.

If there are any specific requirements as part of your insurance contract that you are unable or unlikely to be able to comply with, such as on-site security, businesses should speak to their insurer or insurance advisor/broker.
 

If a business isn’t able to operate because of COVID-19, should I just cancel my insurance policy?

Business insurance helps to protect business owners and independent professionals against everyday risks, such as accidents in the workplace and associated public liability, stock or premises damage, legal costs and cyber-attacks.

There are also some types of insurance that a business is legally obliged to have, such as employer’s liability and commercial motor insurance.


Even in a time when a business is unable to operate as usual due to the impacts of COVID-19, it’s important that businesses remain covered for standard risks, many of which may be more likely when the property is unoccupied, such as vandalism of the property, theft of stock or equipment, or even loss of information or damage to IT systems and networks.

 

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RBS, Helping you make banking as straight forward as possible.

Malcolm Buchanan, Chair, Scotland Board, Royal Bank of Scotland has been speaking to us about what the bank is doing Royal Bank of Scotland is doing to make banking as straightforward and supportive as possible during these difficult times.

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'Scotland is experiencing one of the most challenging periods in its history. As a bank where many of our colleagues are neighbours, friends and even family to your readers and our customers, we want to make sure that we are doing all we can to help our communities and make banking as straightforward and as supportive as possible during these difficult times.

We are monitoring the impact of coronavirus across Dumfries and Galloway to ensure we can support everyone appropriately through this period of disruption. Whether young or old, a personal or a business customer, we are working with local authorities, governments, regulators and other banks to ensure we are doing everything that we can to support our communities and the local economy.

To help the public cope with these challenges, Royal Bank of Scotland customers over 70 and those in isolation can now access a new dedicated support line. This has been set up so we can help those most in need and is open from 8am until 8pm, seven days a week. Those who need it can call us on 0800 051 4177.

The current situation has made everyone fully appreciate the impact and pressure our NHS staff are experiencing. To help them help the most vulnerable in our society at this time, we have introduced an emergency customer care line for NHS and critical workers to help with emergency banking support such as lending assistance and lost and stolen cards. This line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be contacted on 0800 0466734.

We understand the challenges and the circumstances those affected by coronavirus might face and we want to be there to make sure they don’t fall into financial difficulty as a result. As such we want any customers who are affected to get in contact to allow us to understand their individual situation and to see what we can do to help them.

We want to help. Every single one of us is here to support you.

We’re doing everything we can to keep our services running for customers. Our branch network remains open but following relevant public health guidance, we have reviewed our opening hours and we’re prioritising core opening hours from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 1pm.  Our colleagues in branches are working incredibly hard in difficult circumstances and we’re encouraging customers not to visit their branch unless it's critical and if they do, practice safe social distancing.

This same guidance has forced us to make the difficult decision to pause our mobile fleet with immediate effect. But customers can continue to access their banking services through our other channels including digital, mobile, ATMs, video banker, telephony and Post Office – and we are proactively keeping customers aware of any changes that affect their local service through our website.

Local businesses lie at the heart of our community and many readers face the responsibility of looking after their company as well as their colleagues. To assist we have set aside a support fund of a £500m of working capital support. We’re able to offer emergency fee free loans and overdrafts to relieve some of the pressure and through our consultants and relationship managers help offer advice and facilitate the support channels being offered by the Government and the Bank of England.

This is a fast-changing situation and could potentially change quickly. Our colleagues across the bank are working together throughout this challenging period to offer the public a service which makes banking as straightforward as possible during a difficult period.

I want to reassure you that the bank is doing all it can to help customers, your readers and communities across Scotland. We will constantly review all the actions we are taking to make sure they are having the right impact.

We will also look for new ways of supporting our customers and will continue to work with a wide range of stakeholders, including governments and local authorities, to find solutions to the problems we are all facing and to plan for a positive and proactive future.'