Following the establishment of a dedicated Council team and system to manage the COVID-19 Business Grant scheme, the number of and value of grants to Highland businesses is increasing daily. On Friday 17 April alone, business grants were awarded to 233 businesses to the value of £2.84m which took the overall total to over 1000 businesses and total grants secured to over £12.8m.
Over the coming week the Council is planning to increase further the team involved in processing the grants, as it seeks to move towards the processing of over 350 grant awards per day.
Reflecting the financial crisis generated by COVID-19, it is not surprising that within days of the grant scheme being launched on 24 March thousands of applications were received. This then increased again when the Scottish Government opened the scheme to self-catering businesses, creating a significant backlog of applications. The applications are being processed in date order received and hence, it is regretful but inevitable, that not all the applications will be processed within the 10 working days target.
In response to businesses wanting to know when their application for grant will be processes, over the coming week the Council will be focusing on dealing with the backlog and ensuring that all applications received are complete with the evidence required. We will then be getting back in touch and letting business know that their application has been received and is being processed.
On 14 April the Scottish Government announced a second phase of funding. This new package of measures includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.
A further £100 million fund is also being made available to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses in distress due to COVID.
Applications for the £100 million fund will be open by the end of the month, and the new arrangements for the Small Business Grant will be in place to receive applications on 5 May.
Details on the Small Business Grant and application forms can be found by visiting https://www.highland.gov.uk/coronavirus/businessgrant
For further information, latest coronavirus developments and changes to key Council services visit www.highland.gov.uk/coronavirus