"Without this grant, we'd be touch and go" - help arrives for small businesses


More than 10,000 small businesses in communities across the Capital are set to receive non-domestic rates relief and emergency cash grants over the coming weeks.

Thanks to a coordinated financial package in response to the coronavirus outbreak, we'll be releasing tens of millions of pounds in rates relief and grants from the Government's Coronavirus Business Support Fund from today (Monday 6 April). Worth £10,000 and £25,000, these grants will help successful applicants stay in business and protect local jobs.

Businesses which are yet to seek support are being strongly encouraged to apply online in case they are also eligible. We’ll be processing applications within 10 working days to help businesses receive the help they need as quickly as possible.

Adam McVey, Council Leader, said:

For small businesses hit by the current crisis, there is no time to lose. We need to work quickly to support our city’s business owners with access to advice and emergency funding.

In a short space of time, we've worked rapidly to process applications for rates relief and grant funding, unlocking millions of pounds for Edinburgh businesses in the process. We all rely on local and independent firms to help our lives and our communities thrive, and this support will immediately help thousands of those small firms which need it most.

Cammy Day, Depute Leader, said:

This outbreak remains an anxious time for businesses but help is here. The rates relief we're releasing over the next few weeks is going to save the city's small business community tens of millions of pounds.

We have identified around £110 million in grants and millions in rates relief too, which will start landing in business bank accounts from next week. This should to take some of the pressure off. It's reassuring to hear stories of how the tide is turning for some businesses because of these measures and we're calling on other businesses to follow suit and apply for help.

Local business owner John McBeath has been running Celsius Windows Ltd in West Telferton for 11 years. He has successfully secured a grant of £10,000 to support his double glazing firm and the five members of staff he employs.

John explained:

When the outbreak first started, we started to get a bit cautious about taking on new jobs. I had a gut feeling things were going to get worse. Then we started getting emails from suppliers, saying that things were coming to a halt. It has been a stressful time but now I feel like we'll come out the other end.

I wasn't sure if I'd be eligible for a grant but it only took me five minutes to apply. The fact the money will come quickly is really going to take the pressure off and help us with cash flow. Because we're a relatively small business, we don't have too many overheads but we've still got bills to pay. We want to look after our staff. It's difficult to plan for something when you don't know how long it will go on for, but getting support with wages, getting a grant and being helped with rates relief - that's huge for us.

Ronnie Arthur is a Trustee for the Craigmillar Hearts Community Club. He doesn't take wages but has been worried about how he'll look after the club's bar staff, who make a living from the club being open.

Ronnie told us:

Without this grant, we'd be touch and go. We really would. We're just a small social club and a lot of what we do is about getting the community together. Usually we'd be hosting bingo nights, birthday parties, sing-songs. We have tea parties where people come in from care homes for a visit. I don't know when we'll be able to do that again. I'm trying to keep in touch with everyone with a newsletter to keep things going, especially for us older ones. It will be a lonely time for some.

We work to small margins and we're really fortunate this grant is available to us from the Council. They've been great. The breweries have also been fantastic and have agreed to replace all of the draught beer we didn't get to use before we went into lockdown.

Business rates

The Scottish Government has announced several changes to non-domestic rates for the financial year 2020/21 to help businesses deal with the impact of COVID-19. We’re working with our partners to implement these changes as a priority. Further information is available here.

Small Business Support Grant (£10,000)

Application for a one-off £10,000 grant available for the ratepayers of properties which had a rateable value of £18,000 or less and were on 17 March 2020 either
• in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS)
• in receipt of Rural Relief
• eligible for SBBS but in receipt of Nursery Relief, Disabled Relief, Fresh Start or Business Growth Accelerator Relief. Further information is available here.

Retail, hospitality and leisure support grant (£25,000)

Application for a £25,000 grant available for relief recipients with a rateable value between £18,001 and £51,000 in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

This is the rateable value as at 17 March 2020 regardless of any later reduction in rateable value due to an appeal. This is only available if they were the ratepayer for a premises occupied for that business use on 17 March 2020. Further information is available here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been expanded today (Monday 6 April) and is available for SMEs through more than 40 accredited lenders across the UK. Further information is available from the British Business Bank.

Published: April 6th 2020