South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth is urging businesses in Dumfries and Galloway to take advantage of the support measures which have been announced by the Scottish and UK Governments in recent days.
However, Colin Smyth is also calling on both governments to extend the support to self-employed people.
Below is a summary of the announcements made last week to help businesses during the Covid-19 crisis:
- a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
- £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
- £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value of between £18,000 and £51,000
- 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
- urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways if they wish
- HMRC will reimburse 80% of workers wage costs, with a cap of £2,500 per worker per month
A business helpline number has been set up to get further information, the number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm and callers should select option one to speak to the Covid-19 team.
In addition Dumfries and Galloway Council have established a dedicated helpline on 01387 260280 (Mon-Fri 9-5) and e-mail address : CV19EconRecov@dumgal.gov.uk to respond to issues form local businesses.
For specific advice on Non Domestic Rates reliefs businesses can e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01387 260085
Colin Smyth was involved in a meeting with Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing on Friday where Mr Ewing agreed that further support to keep people in work needs to happen, and happen soon, and promised this would be forthcoming.
However, Colin Smyth has called on both the Scottish and UK Governments to urgently address the concerns of many self-employed people who are currently not able to access the package of measures.
Colin Smyth said: “This is a deeply worrying time for everyone, not least the region’s businesses. As more and more safety measures are rightly put in place, many businesses face uncertainty and fear.
“I have spoken to a huge number of businesses from across the region in the past couple of days and they are all very concerned about how they are going to pay their bills and their staff’s wages.
“Fortunately, the host of measures announced at the end of last week provided a lot of answers and I would urge all businesses to call the helpline number for more information. I appreciate that it will take some time to make payments to businesses and I am urging the Government to deliver the support sooner rather than later as many businesses are already struggling with many closing.
“While I welcome what has been done, it needs to go further.
“One particular area of concern for me is the many self-employed people who are currently not included in the support package. Our governments need to move quickly and announce similar measures for them.
“I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that the interests of the people of Dumfries and Galloway are represented during this uncertain and frightening time.
“With that in mind, I would urge anyone with any concerns to e-mail me on email@example.com or call 01387 279205.”