SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Coronavirus / Fund launched to support island businesses

MORE details have been released about how businesses in the Scottish islands affected by current coronavirus restrictions can apply for new funding.

The Scottish Government launched the Island Equivalent Payment fund on Monday. It recognises that “while islands face a lower level of restrictions, there are significant impacts on island businesses too”.

For eligible businesses, this fund brings the support available to them in line with similar businesses subject to level four restrictions on the mainland.

Under level three Covid restrictions, many island businesses are legally allowed to operate and are therefore not eligible for support from the strategic framework business fund, which pays out grants to companies which are required to close by law or to significantly change its operations.

Shetland companies that meet the eligibility criteria for level four strategic framework business fund can apply for a grant, paid every four weeks until restrictions are lifted.

The temporary closure grant amount is paid every four weeks, under the Island Equivalent Payment, and is dependent on rateable value as follows:

  • £2,000 if your business premises has a rateable value of up to and including £51,000, or
  • £3,000 if your business premises has a rateable value of £51,001 and above

For the four-week period from 28 December 2020 to 24 January 2021, businesses in level three island areas, including Shetland, can now apply for a temporary closure grant. The period of this funding may be extended if current restrictions under Scotland’s strategic framework continue.

Additionally businesses that also meet the eligibility criteria for hospitality, retail and leisure will also qualify for a one-off top up payment, with a deadline for applications of 22 February.

This is based on rateable value as follows:

Retail and leisure:

  • £6,000 for eligible businesses with a rateable value of up to and including £51,000, or
  • £9,000 for eligible businesses with a rateable value of £51,001 and above

Hospitality (including restaurants, bars, pubs, licensed social and sports clubs, cafes and hotels):

  • £6,000 for eligible businesses with a rateable value of up to and including £51,000, or
  • £25,000 for eligible businesses with a rateable value of £51,001 and above

The top-up grant is not available to self-catering properties and B&Bs.  They will be further supported by targeted schemes currently being developed by the Scottish Government and sector representatives.

Businesses who have already applied for the strategic framework business fund do not have to reapply.

Top-up payments and changes to ongoing payments will be made automatically.

New applications to the fund, including applications for the Islands Equivalent Payment, should be made here.

The introduction of the fund has been welcomed by Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart.

She said the priority now must be to ensure that businesses receive the financial support before it is too late.

“Confirmation that eligible businesses in level three areas can now apply for the top-up funding previously announced by the finance secretary will come as a relief to businesses in Shetland who have felt unsupported and confused,” Wishart said.

“Many businesses in Shetland are merely treading water in the current environment. Level three restrictions have effectively posed the same significant challenges for businesses in Shetland as those in other parts of the country given that everyone is being encouraged to stay home at the moment.

“Some businesses have also voluntarily closed to help stop the spread of the virus.

“The finance secretary recognised this problem and agreed to work with local authorities to make available island equivalent grants. I’m glad that this has now been established, giving businesses in Shetland much-needed support.

“The priority now must be to make sure this vital funding gets out the door and into the coffers of businesses as quickly as possible. Some local businesses are in a very precarious position and can’t afford to wait any longer to get access to this essential funding.”