Council launches first phase of business hardship support

Council launches first phase of business hardship support
01 May 2020

A support initiative for businesses experiencing hardship is launched today by Orkney Islands Council (Friday 1 May).

The Coronavirus Business Hardship Support Grant Scheme is the first measure to be put in place since a recent decision by Elected Members to create an initial £5 million fund in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The aim is to assist local businesses experiencing pressing financial difficulties from unavoidable costs.

Businesses can find guidance and check if they are eligible for funding here www.orkney.gov.uk/CV-BHS – and should first ensure they have explored all other funding or support options available to them, including the special measures put in place by the Scottish and UK Governments.

Once the check has been made, eligible businesses will be sent a grant application form. Those that are unsure about their eligibility should contact the Council’s economic development team for advice at economic.development@orkney.gov.uk

The initial £5 million is primarily drawn from the Council’s Strategic Reserve Fund, supplemented by a mix of Crown Estate funding which was allocated to the Council and a contribution from OIC’s Renewable, Redevelopment and Regeneration Fund.

Grants from the fund will initially be for:

  • £5,000 per applicant for businesses employing one to five full time equivalent employees, including the owner or owners.
  • £10,000 per applicant for businesses employing six to 10 full time equivalent employees, including the owner or owners.
  • £15,000 per applicant for businesses employing 11 or more full time equivalent employees, including the owner or owners.

In addition, the details of a business loan scheme are currently being finalised.

Graham Sinclair, Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, said: “I am pleased that the hardship grant scheme is now open for applications.

“The grants will be drawn from the initial £5 million fund we’ve set up in response to the economic impact on local businesses the pandemic is having.

“Many are receiving welcome assistance from the support schemes the Scottish and UK Governments continue to put in place for businesses affected by the crisis.

“Those schemes should be the first port of call for local businesses experiencing hardship. But we are aware from active engagement with Orkney’s business sectors that some will find these measures insufficient or might fall through the net altogether.

“It’s these businesses we are seeking to support. If your business is facing this situation I would encourage you to check online to see if it is eligible - and to get in touch with our economic development team or Business Gateway Orkney if you are unsure or feel it doesn’t quite meet the criteria.”

Councillor Sinclair added: “In addition to issuing over £4.2million in Government grants so far, the Coronavirus Business Hardship Support Grant Scheme is the first directly funded measure the Council has put in place to help protect at-risk local businesses and sustain jobs. It will be targeted towards businesses in most need. We welcome applications and these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“We will listen carefully to the feedback we receive from businesses and that will help us decide if any modifications to the scheme are needed – and if further support measures are required.”

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