Local businesses who have been impacted by coronavirus may still have options open to them for financial support, despite some national schemes coming to an end as restrictions ease.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Orkney Islands Council's Economic Development and Finance and Internal Audit teams have assessed and distributed over £14.7m of national and Council business support grants to local businesses – recently delivering over £1m in grant support to businesses in just a two week period. Around £2.5m of those grants have been wholly OIC funded.
Orkney Islands Council’s Coronavirus Recovery Development Grant (CRDG) remains open to assist businesses adapt and invest to meet the challenges of trading during the pandemic.
The CRDG was launched in August 2020 with an initial £300k from Orkney Islands Council’s own funds, and boosted with another £300k last month, to provide support for businesses seeking to respond to COVID-19 by investing in new and efficient operations or adapting to new market conditions.
As at 16 April 2021, 44 projects have been allocated £307,000 - an average of £7k per grant.
A key element to the CRDG is the requirement that 50% match funding is provided by the applicant, to help ensure limited funds are used to best effect.
Also still open for applications is the Council’s OIC-funded Business Hardship Support Grant BHSG (Phase 2). This scheme aims to assist local businesses experiencing pressing financial difficulties from unavoidable costs related to the pandemic. Grants of between £2k and £7.5k are available, and businesses can apply more than once.
These grants (CRDG and BHSG) are supported by the Council’s £5m Coronavirus Response Fund (CRF) established in April 2020 to in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Meantime, eligibility criteria for the Scottish Government’s new COVID-19 Local Authority Discretionary Fund (LADF) is currently being developed by the Council.
Orkney has been allocated £688,792, to be administered by OIC to reach groups and sectors that have received limited direct financial support to mitigate short-term financial challenges thus far.
Councillors recommended at this week's Policy and Resources Committee that, for expediency, the Council’s Chief Executive works in conjunction senior officials and Councillors (namely Chair and Vice Chair of the Development and Infrastructure Committee, the Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure and the Head of Finance) and with local business stakeholder groups to finalise the terms and conditions for the scheme in Orkney, using insights from the local business community to help determine how support should be targeted as restrictions ease. Further details will be issued in due course.
Meantime, local businesses with experience or information on potential gaps in coronavirus support funding are encouraged to contact the Council’s Economic Development team so that these can be considered.
Councillors at today’s meeting also heard that very few other councils have in place additional local business grant funding comparable to Orkney Islands Council’s offering since the pandemic, which includes:
- OIC funded Business Hardship Support Grant (Phase 1): Opened 1 May 2020, closed 8 December 2020)
- OIC funded Business Hardship Support Grant (Phase 2): Opened 9 December 2020 – still open
- OIC funded COVID-19 Business Support Top-up Grant at 10%: Open from 19 August 2020 - still open
- OIC COVID-19 Protective Equipment Grant: Open from 19 August, closed 18 December 2020
- OIC COVID-19 Recovery Development Grant: Open from 19 August 2020 – still open
- OIC Hotel Job Support grant Scheme: Opened 16 Nov 2020 – closed 31 March
- OIC Emergency cash flow loans: Open from 25 May 2020 – still open
To find out more about coronavirus business support available in Orkney, visit our cv-biz webpage.