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At Lochaber Chamber of Commerce we’re working hard to support our member businesses find access to the assistance and advice they need to help them adapt to drastically changed circumstances and cope with the challenges of keeping business going in a lockdown.

No matter what size and type of business, we know that access to the right help at the right time is crucial. Time is of the essence – some of the assistance available to business is not yet open for applications but small business grants and business interruption loans are now available for
applications.

If you’re in business, make sure you know what help is available by getting in touch with Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and checking our daily updated COVID-19 business info at www.lochaberchamber.co.uk.

*Small business grants: To apply go to www.highland.gov.uk/coronavirus/businessgrant and be sure to include all the relevant information to make sure there are no delays to your application. These grants are now available to those who run self-catering accommodation, provided receipts represent a primary source (for example, one third or more) of earnings for the ratepayer and the accommodation was let for 140 or more days in the financial year 2019-2020. The Highland Council aims to make payment within 10 working days of receipt of a fully completed application.

*The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS): This is open for applications. It supports term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and more. It can provide facilities of up to £5 million for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cash flow. The Government will pay the interest and fees on the loan for the first 12 months.  There is also a Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme available for larger businesses.

*Help with paying employees: The Government’s COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme will pay 80 per cent of furloughed employee wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 pcm. Employees must be furloughed (put on temporary leave of absence) for a minimum of three weeks. This scheme is not yet live but is expected to be open for applications by the end of April.

*Help for the self-employed: A taxable grant of 80 per cent of average earnings over the last three years (up to a maximum of £2,500 pcm, and available for businesses with a trading profit of up to £50,000 per year). Businesses can carry on doing business when in receipt of the grant. This will not be available until June – you don’t have to do anything. HMRC will contact eligible businesses directly. The self-employed are encouraged to apply for universal credit as soon as possible for assistance until the grants are available.

Helpful numbers
Scottish Government Business Support Helpline: 0300 303 0660 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm).

The Highland Council Advice Helpline: 0300 303 1362 (Monday to Friday 8am-6pm). HMRC Tax Helpline: 0800 015 9559 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturday, 8am to 4pm).