Renfrewshire Council

Last updated: 13.00 on 5 April 2020

Support for businesses, employees and self-employed

The Scottish and UK Governments have been announcing measures to support businesses, employees and self-employed. This is the most up-to-date information we have on the schemes and measures available.

On this page:

Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund

What does it do?

Direct grant support to specific businesses.

Who and what is eligible?

A one-off grant of £10,000 available to small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme Relief or Rural Relief.

You can get this grant if you applied for Nursery Relief, Business Growth Accelerator or Disabled Relief but are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

A one-off grant of £25,000 for hospitality, leisure and retail businesses with properties with a rateable value between £18,001 and up to and including £50,999. An updated list of the types of retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses who are eligible or not for the one-off £25,000 grant can be found here: MyGovScot - Help with non-domestic rates in Scotland during coronavirus

You can only apply for one grant - even if you own multiple properties.. You do not have to repay these grants. 

How can it be accessed?

An online form for a business support grant is now available - click on the link below:

Apply for a Business Support Grant (Coronavirus)

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

What does it do?

All UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees' salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Who and what is eligible?

All UK wide employers with a PAYE scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020 will be eligible - this includes businesses, charities, recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE) and public authorities.

The employer must have a UK bank account (HMRC will pay via BACS payment).

HMRC will pay employers a grant worth 80% of an employee's usual wage cost, up to £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant.

This will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.

This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the payroll, otherwise described as 'furloughed workers'.

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including: full- time employees; part-time employees; employees on agency contracts; employees on flexible or zero hours contracts. Note: You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

Detailed guidance for employers is available here: Gov.UK - Claim for your employee's wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This details the employees you can claim for, working out what you can claim and next steps once claims have been submitted.

Detailed guidance for employees is available here: Gov.UK - Check is you could be covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

How can it be accessed?

HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. The government expect the first grants to be paid within weeks and is aiming to get it done before the end of April.

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as 'furloughed workers,' and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.
  • once the new online portal is live, submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings.

What you'll need to make a claim:

  • Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. Employers may need to seek legal advice on the process. If sufficient numbers of staff are involved, it may be necessary to engage collective consultation processes to procure agreement to changes to terms of employment.

To claim, you will need:

  • Your ePAYE reference number
  • The number of employees being furloughed
  • The claim period (start and end date)
  • Amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
  • Your bank account number and sort code
  • Your contact name
  • Your phone number

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

What does it do?

Will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Who and what is eligible?

The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have

The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

To be eligible for the scheme, you must meet all these criteria:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
    • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19

    • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 201819.

How can it be accessed?

Individuals should not contact HMRC now.

HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants' bank account.

HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid out by beginning of June 2020. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for 2018-19, they must do so by 23 April 2020 to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

Note: When invited to apply, you will access this scheme only through Gov.UK. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam

In the interim the self-employed will still able eligible for other government support including universal credit and business continuity loans.

Detailed guidance is available here: Gov.UK - Claim a grant through the Covid-19 Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

VAT Deferral

What does it do?

Deferral of Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months.

Who and what is eligible?

All businesses are eligible. For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

You have the option to:

  • Defer your VAT payment
  • Pay the VAT due as normal

It does not cover VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) payments.

You still need to submit your VAT returns on time.

HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred as a result of the Chancellor's announcement.

VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

How can it be accessed?

If you chose to defer your VAT payment, you must pay the VAT due on or before 31 March 2021.

You do not need to tell HMRC that you are deferring your VAT payment.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

VAT payments due following the end of the deferral period will have to be paid as normal. Further information about how to repay the VAT you've deferred will be available soon.

Income Tax Payments Deferral

What does it do?

Deferral of Income Tax Self-Assessment Payment due 31 July 2020.

Who and what is eligible?

Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on 31 July 2020 may be deferred until 31 January 2021.

You are eligible if you are due to pay your second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July 2020. You do not need to be self-employed to be eligible for the deferment.

The deferment is optional. If you are still able to pay your second payment on account on 31 July 2020, you should do so.

How can it be accessed?

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until January 2021.

During the deferral period you can set up a budget payment plan to help you pay the deferred payment on account when it comes due. You can find out more here: Gov.UK - Pay your Self Assessment tax bill in instalments

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Relief Package

What does it do?

Allows small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. 

Who and what is eligible?

This refund will cover up to 2 weeks' SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID19.

Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible - the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.

Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19.

Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website. More detailed information is available here: NHS.UK Self-isolation advice

Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP to those staying at home comes into force.

The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

How can it be accessed?

The UK Government is currently developing a rebate scheme. Further details will be provided in due course. 

If you are self-employed and want to know if you are eligible for Universal Credit, check here: Gov.UK - Self-employment and Universal Credit

Business Rates (all businesses)

What does it do?

Rates relief.

Who and what is eligible?

All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% relief. This relief effectively reverses the change in poundage for 2020-21.

How can it be accessed?

You do not need to apply for this relief - it will be applied to your bill by the council. 

Business Rates (specific sectors)

What does it do?

Rates holiday for 2020/21 tax year.

Who and what is eligible?

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief.

To get this relief, a property has to be occupied. Properties that have closed temporarily due to the government's COVID-19 advice will be treated as occupied.

Scottish airports will get 100% rates relief for a year, as will organisations providing handling services for scheduled passenger flights to Scottish airports. Due to the unique role that Loganair plays in providing connectivity to the Highlands and Islands, they will also get 100% rates relief for a year. No other airline will receive rate relief in Scotland.

Any organisations providing a 'handling service' at Scottish airports are eligible. Handling services are defined as doing or more of the following:

  • De-icing
  • Re-fuelling
  • Moving aircraft
  • Waste servicing
  • Allocation of seating
  • Handling of baggage
  • Supervision of boarding

How can it be accessed?

You do not need to apply for this relief - it will be applied to your bill by the council. 


Support for Water Bills

What does it do?

Suspension of pre-payment charges.

Who and what is eligible?

Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means providers - who provide water to businesses - can be flexible with their customers at this time.

The Central Marketing Agency will also introduce other measures to assist the market by suspending all performance standard charges to ensure licensed providers can focus on supporting customers.

How can it be accessed?

This is effective immediately. Comprehensive details of the package will be set out by the industry in a further letter to licensed providers.

Businesses should liaise directly with their water services supplier.


Business Support for Private and Third Sector Childcare Providers

What does it do?

Funded ELC hours payments.

Who and what is eligible?

All private and third sector providers who provide funded ELC in their settings will continue to receive payments from their local authority for these funded ELC hours.

Private and third sector providers will be able to access: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; Business Support Fund; Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Statutory Sick Pay Rebate - read relevant sections of this summary for more details.


Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund

What does it do?

This £2m fund offers a one-off bursary to support freelance artists and freelance creative practitioners working in the not-for-profit sector in Scotland.

Who and what is eligible?

This fund is targeted at freelance artists and freelance creative practitioners who derive a significant proportion of their income from working in the not-for-profit sector in Scotland and have experienced a loss of earnings as a result of COVID-19.

Bursaries of between £500 and £2,500 are available to help support immediate needs (you may only request more than £2,500 if your request includes access costs).

How can it be accessed?

A second round of requests will open Monday 20 April which will likely close Friday 24 April (possibly earlier). 

You will be asked to provide:

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae) or a short supporting statement of your work
  • a name and address of a professional referee

Creative Scotland is aiming to have applications and processed and money paid out within 4 weeks from receipt of application. 

More information and application guidance is available here: Creative Scotland website


Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund

What does it do?

This £1.5m fund offers a one-off bursary to support freelance or self-employed screen practitioners.

Who and what is eligible?

This fund is to support freelance or self-employed screen practitioners working in Scotland's screen sector (exhibition, distribution, development, production or postproduction for film or television, scripted or unscripted, live-action or animation, talent and skills development, film education) who are experiencing immediate financial difficulty due to the loss of screen sector income in Scotland as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bursaries of between £500 and £2,500 are available to help support your immediate needs.

How can it be accessed?

Download and read the associated guidance here: Screen Scot website (opening PDF)

Complete the online form here: Bridging Bursary Request Form


Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development

What does it do?

A £7.5m fund which aims to enable creative organisations to explore ways of working that will help them to adapt and respond to the current changing circumstances.

Who and what is eligible?

Individuals can apply for funding between £1,000 and £50,000. Freelance and self-employed artists and creative practitioners in Scotland can apply for projects supporting the development of their practice. You may apply for funding to work with others if your practice is collaborative. You must have a UK bank account.

Organisations and groups based in Scotland whose work or project involves the arts, screen and creative industries can also apply for a grant between £1,000 and £50,000. All applicants must have a UK bank account.

How can it be accessed?

The fund is now open and there are no deadlines.

You can find out more about the fund here: Creative Scotland website

Note: individuals and organisations applying for a grant from £15,000 to £50,000 will be asked some additional questions and asked to complete a separate form for assessing risk.



Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme 

What does it do?

This temporary Loan Scheme will support SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

Who and what is eligible?

Supports loans of up to £5 million available on repayment terms of up to six years.

UK Government will provide lenders with a partial guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to an overall cap per lender).

No guarantee fee for SMEs to access the scheme - lenders will pay a fee to access the scheme.

Interest and fees paid by UK Government for 12 months - this means no upfront costs and lower initial repayments for SMEs.

For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, term will be up to three years.

Your business must be UK based with turnover of no more than £45 million per year.

Your business must meet the other eligibility criteria explained here: British Business Bank website - eligibility criteria

How can it be accessed?

This scheme is now open for applications. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all major banks.

To apply, talk to your bank or one of the accredited finance providers as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best way to contact them via their websites. Please note that branches may currently be shut due to social distancing measures.

The full rules of the scheme and a list of accredited lenders is available here: British Business Bank website - accredited lenders and partners

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility 

What does it do?

Purchase of short-term debt (Larger firms only).

Who and what is eligible?

New lending facility to raise working capital via the Bank of England directly purchasing short-term debt.

Supports companies that are fundamentally strong but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze.

Supports the corporate finance market overall which eases the supply of credit to all firms.

All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out by the Bank of England are eligible: Bank of England website - Covid Corporate Financing Facility

How can it be accessed?

Full details to be confirmed by UK Government w/c 23 March 2020. Further info is available on the website.


What does it do?

Insurance payout (based on cover).

Who and what is eligible?

Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as Covid-19.

Businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim (subject to terms and conditions of their policy).

Notifiable diseases:
On 5 March 2020, the UK Government added Covid-19 to its list of notifiable diseases. Many insurers use diseases on this list as triggers for the activation or exclusion of insurance cover. Insurance policies that cover notifiable diseases will typically only cover a specific subset of notifiable diseases such as Cholera and may exclude future/unknown diseases such as Covid-19.

Unspecified notifiable diseases:
Some businesses will have purchased add-ons to their insurance that cover 'unspecified notifiable diseases'. These policies effectively cover any disease listed as a notifiable disease, enabling the business to claim for losses of all notifiable diseases as well as from diseases that are unknown at the point the policy is written. The effect of the government adding Covid-19 to its list of notifiable diseases is to ensure that businesses with unspecified notifiable disease cover are able to make a claim - subject to terms and conditions of their policy. For example, someone infected with Covid-19 may need to have been on the premises.

Government Ordered Closures:
The government asked a number of different businesses and venues to remain closed from 21 March onwards. Insurers have agreed that this advice is sufficient for businesses covered for Covid-19 losses to make a claim. However, most businesses commercial insurance policies are unlikely to offer cover for Covid-19.

Event cancellation:
Businesses with event cancellation policies that include unspecified notifiable disease extensions should be able to make a claim for the necessary and unavoidable cancellation, abandonment, curtailment, postponement and disruption of their event for reasons beyond the control of organisers or participants (subject to the other terms and exclusions of their policy).

How can it be accessed?

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers

HMRC Time to Pay Service 

What does it do?

Tax relief.

Who and what is eligible?

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may receive support. Case-by-case basis and tailored to individual circumstances.

How can it be accessed?

Call HMRC's dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 599.

Planning Rules Relaxed (Specific Sectors) 

What does it do?

Change of operations.

Who and what is eligible?

Local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways.

How can it be accessed?

Guidance to be published by local authorities.

Visitor Levy Bill

What does it do?

Halting of Bill.

Who and what is eligible?

The introduction of a visitor levy on tourism in Scotland will be halted.

How can it be accessed?

Effective immediately.

Deposit Return Scheme

What does it do?

Extension of go-live.

Who and what is eligible?

The Deposit Return Scheme will now be introduced in July 2022.

How can it be accessed?

Effective immediately.

Business Loans Scotland and West of Scotland Loan Fund

What does it do?

3 month capital and interest holiday for all existing borrowers.

Who and what is eligible?

All businesses with existing loans.

How can it be accessed?

Applied directly to loans via Business Loans Scotland. Note: Business Loans Scotland is aware of an Advanced Fee Fraud using their name. Business Loans Scotland does not ask a borrower for any up-front fees and any promise of this type of loan requiring an upfront fee is a con.


Third Sector Resilience Fund

What does it do?

£20 million to ensure health and continued viability of third sector organisations.

Who and what is eligible?

£20 million emergency fund provides grants between £5,000 - £100,000.

There will be an additional £5 million available in fully flexible, 0% interest loans starting at £50,000.

The fund will be complemented by specialist business advice from Just Enterprise to help grant recipients maximise the impact of the financial support.

To be eligible, organisations must be:

  • a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation based in Scotland and/or primarily delivering services/activities in Scottish communities
  • already delivering those products or services prior to March 2020
  • needing funding to stabilise cashflows directly as a result of the impact of COVID-19, as opposed to pre-existing financial difficulties.

How can it be accessed?

This fund is now open.

The fund will be delivered by Firstport, Social Investment Scotland and the Corra Foundation.

Applicants must complete a short eligibility checker to assess their suitability for the fund: Eligibility Checker on SCVO website


Community Response, Recovery & Resilience Fund

What does it do?

Support local charities and grassroots organisations across Scotland to help them respond to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and recover from its impact.

Who and what is eligible?

Provides immediate funding to support constituted community groups and charities that are responding to the coronavirus pandemic in their local community.

Funding is available between £1,000 and £5,000 and focussed on immediate community needs.

Only constituted groups with a governing document can apply.

How can it be accessed?

The fund is now open for applications and can be accessed here: Community Response, Recovery and Resilience application form


Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Parliament has unanimously supported the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill.

People and some small businesses that are unable to repay debts due to the outbreak will be able to apply for a six-month 'breathing space' period. This will allow them to seek money advice and find long-term solutions to repay debts. It also removes the limitation that means they can only apply for such a breathing space once in a 12 month period.

These measures apply to individuals, partnerships, corporate and unincorporated bodies and trusts, though not to companies or LLPs.

The Bill also allows licensing authorities to extend the deadlines for licence applications that allow the sale and supply of alcohol, and taxi and private hire. This flexibility will help to minimise the risk of losing current licensing rights due during the outbreak. It also gives discretion to allow licensing hearings to be conducted by telephone, video-conferencing or by written communication, including email.

The COVID-19 outbreak affects the ability of both planning authorities and applicants to deal with planning permissions that are due to expire. When planning permission is granted applicants have a period of three years to commence development before the permission lapses. The new legislation extends any planning permission that would lapse within the next six months so that it will not expire until April 2021.

Who to contact for advice

Our Business Development team and our Business Gateway team are available to help you. 

You can email us at or call one of our advisors:

  • Gary Kenyon - 07534 007841
  • Philippa Simms - 07534 006550
  • Robert Kinniburgh - 07483 914535
  • Colin Orr - 07483 914561
  • James Edmonds - 07483 914556

Information and official guidance is also available at Business Gateway.