The Scottish grant scheme was extended today. Previously, the criteria for the Business Support Scheme limited businesses to making a single application. This was at odds with the way in which the Scheme has been operating in England and Wales, where businesses have been able to apply for support for each premises registered to pay business rates.
I wrote to the Finance Secretary, highlighting the disproportionate impact the restriction was having on businesses in Orkney, many of whom operate from a number of different properties in the county and elsewhere.
Now, in addition to 100% grants for the first property for a business, 75% grants will be available for subsequent properties. Applications will be open for this on 5th of May, and more details will be available soon.
Further support was announced on the 15th of April. Shellfish and trout businesses that can demonstrate severe financial hardship because of COVID-19, for example because of a lack of export food markets, will be eligible for grants of up to £27,000.
Grant payments will cover two months and be equivalent to 50% of the average monthly gross revenue from sales of aquaculture products in 2019 of each business.
More information can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/news/support-for-aquaculture/.
NEW HELPLINE FOR VULNERABLE
A helpline has been set up for those who do not have family or existing community support and cannot get online.
This is in addition to localised support that is available for those who have received shielding letters.
The number is 0800 111 4000.
If you call the helpline, you will be automatically connected to your local authority, who will help you to access the service you need. It will initially operate between 9am and 5pm, with plans being developed to extend its hours.
Those services include:
- Essential food and medication
- Contact with local volunteer groups.
- Emotional support, or
- Links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults
As the lockdown continues, more people may start to find that they are struggling with their mental health.
However, there is help available even though you’re staying inside.
Breathing Space provides a confidential helpline, and can be contacted over the phone on 0800 83 85 87, or via their website: https://breathingspace.scot/.
There will also be further guidance on how to look after your mental health on NHS Inform, which can be found here: https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus-mental-wellbeing.
The Distress Brief Intervention programme has also been expanded so that it operates nationwide. This means people over the age of 16 who are in emotional distress due to COVID-19 have the opportunity to speak to specially trained staff within 24 hours of referrals by frontline staff, including NHS24.
LOCAL ACTION GROUP
Orkney Local Emergency Co-ordination Group have thanked Orcadians for everything they have done so far as part of the coronavirus lockdown, and issued a reminder of key contacts that can offer support locally. These include:
- Police Scotland – 1010 (non emergency) and 999 (emergency)
- Orkney Islands Council – 01856 873535
- Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline – 08002711234
- Women’s Aid Orkney – 01856 877900, or by email at email@example.com
- Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service – 01856 872298, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rape Crisis Scotland helpline – 0808 8010302.
- Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks – 105.
Prospective university and college students are being reassured that they will receive their results on time, and universities and colleges will assess those qualifications as part of the admissions process. Universities are also being urged to observe a moratorium on changing offers made to undergraduate students.
The UCAS May deadlines are being extended by two weeks to give students more time to make decisions about their future.