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May 2nd 2020

Orkney Islands Council launches first phase of new business support scheme

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

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 make a meaningful contribution to the survival of viable Orkney businesses who have been unable to access enough immediate support under the national schemes of assistance, and thereby risk permanent closure.

Businesses seeking to apply to the Council grant will need to demonstrate they are NOT eligible for a Scottish Government Coronavirus Support grant. Successful applicants will receive a grant of £5,000, £10,000 or £15,000, depending on the number of employees within the business.

Prospective applicants should complete the eligibility checker form available at www.orkney.gov.uk. Further details here.

Here's an extract from the application guidelines detailing the main criteria:

An initial eligibility check is made in the application process based on the following:

a) you are a business based in Orkney;

b) you would have been actively trading before the impact of the coronavirus/COVID19 pandemic;

c) you intend to continue trading in 2020/21 if possible;

d) you were not in financial difficulty (risk of bankruptcy or closing down) prior to the Coronavirus pandemic: before 31 December 2019;

e) you normally employ at least 1 full-time equivalent (based on a 35 hour week) this can include the owner(s) - seasonality of trade may be accommodated;

f) your business is experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the impact of Coronovirus and Scotland’s precautionary measures;

g) you are applying for funding to help your current cash flow hardship;

h) you have exhausted all measures to reduce expenses, including seeking deferred payments and repayments and considered bank lending where possible;

i) you are not eligible for a Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Grant;

j) you are not eligible for a grant from the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or it is insufficient to help your current cash flow hardship;

k) you are not eligible for a grant from the UK Government’s Coronavirus SelfEmployment Income Support Scheme, or it is insufficient to help your current cash flow hardship.

Bed and breakfast and self-catering businesses that pay Council Tax will be asked to confirm that receipts represent a primary source of earnings (as a guide, this should be 30% or more); and that the property has been let out for 140 days or more in financial year 2019-20.

UK residents and those ‘granted leave to stay’ in the UK are eligible to apply for support. Evidence may be required, e.g. a passport or a letter from the Home Office granting leave to stay.

Ineligible Businesses

A business will be considered ineligible under the Business Hardship Support Fund where:

• the business is eligible for a Coronavirus Business Support grant;

• it has not accessed all other Coronavirus Government assistance it may be eligible for (details of which can be found at: https://www.bgateway.com/coronavirusbusiness-support-across-scotland);

• it was already ‘in difficulty’ before the Coronavirus outbreak;

• it cannot demonstrate active trading prior to the Coronavirus outbreak;

• the business has the potential to bring Orkney Islands Council into disrepute and cause harm to the reputation of Orkney.

Awards under the Business Hardship Support Fund will be at the sole discretion of the Council.

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

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