Orkney Islands Council is to provide two new Covid-19 business support measures.
The first is a new grant scheme agreed at a special meeting of the Full Council this week that will help the local hotel industry retain jobs over the winter.
The second will provide a 10% local enhancement from the Council for the new Scottish Government support scheme for hospitality businesses affected by temporary coronavirus restrictions brought in on 9 October – along with businesses that supply them.
“The hotel and hospitality sectors are facing particular difficulties at present and our economic development team has put in a huge effort in rapidly drawing up measures we can put in place in response to this,” said Graham Sinclair, OIC’s chair of Development and Infrastructure.
“We’re in the final stages of developing a job support scheme in recognition of the enormous challenges the hotel sector faces this winter in keeping on staff and retaining key skills after a long and difficult summer, when expected income levels dropped substantially because of the pandemic.
“The UK Government’s own recently announced job support measures have an important role to play in this, but there will be gaps that need to be filled if jobs are to be retained over the winter by local hotels. I am very pleased we are in a position to help with this.”
The scheme will provide grant payments for every Full Time Equivalent job hotels retain during the winter. Further details will be announced soon.
The grants will come from the £5 million Business Support Fund set up by the Council in response to the pandemic earlier this year.
This will also fund the second measure agreed at this week’s Full Council meeting – top-up payments for businesses affected by recent temporary restrictions put in place by the Scottish Government.
The businesses are eligible for grants from the Government’s own Business Hardship Fund. These are administered in Orkney by the Council. Local business can find out more and make an online application visiting the ‘Support’ section here www.orkney.gov.uk/CV-Biz
The closing date for applications is 5pm on Tuesday 3 November.
Following this week’s decision, those that have been awarded the Government grants will automatically receive a 10% top up from the Council.
Councilor Sinclair said: “Earlier this year, we agreed to provide a 10% additional payment to local businesses which received support from a range of Government schemes administered by the Council - or grant funding from OIC’s own Hardship Support initiative.
“We’ve since provided over £1 million in top-up payments, which is an extra benefit from the Council that is not available in other areas.
“This has benefited many local businesses and it is only fair and equitable that we now provide another 10% top up – this time to those directly affected by the temporary restrictions the Government recently put in place.”