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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

Supreme Court Backs Small Firms Over Business Interruption Insurance Claims

Tens of thousands of small businesses will receive insurance payouts covering losses from the first national lockdown, following a court ruling.

The Supreme Court found largely in favour of small firms receiving payments from business interruption insurance policies.

For some businesses it could provide a lifeline, allowing them to trade beyond the coronavirus crisis.

The ruling could cost the insurance sector hundreds of millions of pounds.

The City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), brought the test case, with eight insurers agreeing to take part in proceedings.

In the lockdown of last spring, many small businesses made claims through business interruption insurance policies for loss of earnings when they had to close.

But many insurers refused to pay, arguing only the most specialist policies had cover for such unprecedented restrictions.

It was agreed that a selection of policy wordings should be tested in court, setting the parameters for what would be considered a valid claim.

The ruling provides guidance for a wider pool of 700 policies, potentially affecting 370,000 small businesses.

 

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The FCA, the insurance sector, and the Financial Ombudsman will all use the judgement to guide their decisions in other cases.

The Financial Ombudsman Service and courts in Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to use the judgment to rule on other, similar cases.

Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: "All valid claims will be settled as soon as possible and in many cases the process of settling claims has begun.

"We recognise this has been a particularly difficult time for many small businesses and naturally regret the Covid-19 restrictions have led to disputes with some customers."

 

 

COVID Business Support Update - F Carson MSP

MSP Finlay Carson has issued an update including details of Covid support funds that open now and those upcoming:

 

 

Carson Chamber

Over the last month, I have been lobbying Scottish Government ministers and the Local Authority on a range of different issues including additional support for hospitality, mobile workers such as Hairdressers, Tattooists and Beauticians, Taxi Companies, and the B&B and Self Caterers who fell through the net in the first round of funding, as well as many other self-employed people and businesses operating from home, paying Council Tax rather than Business Rates.

There has been some success in getting policies changed and I will continue to work to give our businesses and constituents across Galloway and West Dumfries the best chance of making it through this incredibly difficult time.

The Scottish Government have announced the following sector specific grants which are due to go live this month:

· Newly Self-Employed Hardship Scheme

· Support for Larger Hospitality Businesses January Top-up for Hospitality Businesses

· Indoor Football Fund

· Travel Agent Fund

· Self-Catering Support Fund

· Taxi Sector Fund

· B&B and Guest House Support Fund

· Mobile Close Contact Services

· Brewer Support Fund

These will largely be administered by the local authorities. Information on the schemes will be posted https://supportdg.dumgal.gov.uk/article/21868/Grants-and-Funding-for-Businesses when funding is available.

There will inevitably be some sectors not covered in the new schemes. I have corresponded with the Leader of the Council with regards to the long awaited Discretionary Fund Budget, something I have been lobbying for, which should help out those businesses who are not eligible for the Strategic Framework Business Fund or the Sectoral Funds. I have urged them to look specifically at some of the exceptions, for example Boarding Kennels/Catteries who although advised they can remain open, but have seen a huge reduction in footfall resulting in a significant impact on their income.

The Council have assured me that they will make the criteria as broad as possible when considering applications, and applicants will only be required to demonstrate if they are a business or self-employed, and that they have suffered adversely due to Covid-19 lockdown and that they are not eligible for any other funding stream.

If your business has been required to close by law or its operations have been significantly changed, then you may be eligible to apply for The Strategic Framework Business Fund. Whilst the COVID restrictions are in place, grants will be paid every 4 weeks.

The Scottish Government have announced that Hospitality businesses and Retail/Leisure businesses will be entitled to a one off grant to top up the grants they previously receive through the Strategic Framework Business Fund. If you have already applied for the 4 weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund then you will get an automatic top up. For the majority this will be combined with your next payment due on 25th January.

Applications for the Strategic Framework Fund can be made here:

https://supportdg.dumgal.gov.uk/article/21623/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Strategic-Framework-Business-Fund

 

Employers, please note that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30th April 2021. You can find out more information below on how you can apply for employee's wages below.


https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme/

 

There is also The Digital Boost Development Grant which offers support to get your business online. This scheme was immediately oversubscribed, however further funding has been promised. Further information and how to apply can be found here:

https://www.digitalboostdevelopmentgrant.co.uk/

 

Visit Scotland have this week announced The Pivotal Event Business Fund established to provide financial support to the Scottish events sector will reopen for 5 days only.

For details of how to apply, please visit https://www.visitscotland.org/events/funding/pivotal-event-businesses-fund

 

The latest funding updates can be found on Dumfries & Galloway Council website:

https://supportdg.dumgal.gov.uk/ and also on the Business Gateway website:

https://www.bgateway.com/local-offices/dumfries-and-galloway/local-support

 

South of Scotland Enterprise have a number of funds available too, and are developing a Wedding Sector Support Fund. Please keep an eye on their website for all funding updates:

https://www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/

 

Our 2 Governments’ have websites to check eligibility for schemes here:

https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/ https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries, or having issues accessing the support you should be eligible for.

 

Kind regards

 

Finlay Carson MSP

Member of the Scottish Parliament for Galloway & West Dumfries

DGChamber President Responds To Restriction Changes

Responding to the latest changes to lockdown restrictions on Scottish businesses, Kenny Bowie, DGChamber President said:

Kenny Bowie

“Today’s announcement will be very disappointing to those who have carefully adapted their businesses to be COVID safe and continue the trading that has kept them afloat up to this point. The lack of any certainty over when currently closed shops would be allowed to re-open added to the importance of Click and Collect services propping up many small and independent retailers.

“The Scottish Government must provide detailed evidence on how these new measures will support public health restrictions and urgently provide sufficient finance to support Scottish businesses if they are to get through yet more rules suddenly imposed upon them without prior consultation. Otherwise, it will only add to the growing desperation of businesses who have put finance and time aside to make their business COVID compliant, only to have to close anyway, with no clear route back to reopening.’’

SOUTH SCOTLAND MSP SMYTH COMMENTS ON FURTHER LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS

Further restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 were announced by the First Minister in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (January 13th 2021).

These include the limitation of non-essential click and collect retail services and restrictions on takeaways as well as statutory guidance on employers to allow staff to work from home.  

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth urged people to abide by the rules and highlighted the importance of ramping up the vaccination programme.

 

ColinSmythMSP

The local MSP also renewed his call for a speeding up in the delivery of support for businesses affected by the extra restrictions announced.

Colin Smyth said: “People will be dismayed and worn down by the news of more restrictions, and these changes will be a further blow to a number of businesses. However, I would urge everyone to continue to abide by the rules and stay at home as much as they can. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, this virus has the ability to spread at alarming rates and we must do all we can to help halt that spread. It is really important that employers allow everyone who can to work from home, and that requirement will now be strengthened in law.

“As most businesses remain closed, the Government needs to get its act together to get support to companies who need it. It’s one thing for the Government to announce schemes and grants but so far many of those haven’t even opened for applications, never mind paid out to businesses. After this latest announcement, that money will be needed across many sectors and it must be paid out soon if businesses are to survive.”

Lifeline Support For Struggling Businesses Urgently Needed, Warn MP and MSP

THERE were renewed demands yesterday (Wednesday, 13th Jan 2021) for an urgent speed-up of stalled support for businesses struggling because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

mundells

Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell called on the Scottish Government to ensure the grants process is accelerated.

 

They back a proposal from the Scottish Conservatives for the SNP Scottish Government to introduce a 10-day business grant turnaround guarantee.

 

The local parliamentarians say SNP Ministers must deliver promised funding to businesses before lengthy delays in distributing grants cost further jobs in Dumfries and Galloway.

At First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood this week, Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t say if even a tenth of the promised funding had been delivered to businesses.

Ms Sturgeon described funding as being 'live' but repeatedly dodged answering Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson’s questions on how much had actually been paid out, not just announced.

The Scottish Government has only published evidence of £6 million out of approximately £300 million reaching businesses.

 

A leaked document from Cosla -- the local government umbrella organisation -- indicates only seven out of 30 business funds are active and councils are still awaiting guidance on funds announced a month ago.

Scottish Conservatives have called for ten-day turnaround guarantees for all business grants, as the SNP originally aimed to do at the beginning of the pandemic last March.

 

The party pointed out there was little evidence that the SNP's £185m of business support announced a month ago had been delivered or and that £700 million provided by the UK Government to the Scottish Government for the purpose had been allocated.

 

Oliver Mundell last night warned a worrying number of businesses in his constituency were struggling to survive as they awaited a decision on support.

 

He said: "Lockdown is sadly essential in the current circumstances but I'm constantly being asked by local business people what has happened to the substantial support funding already allocated to the Scottish Government by the UK Government."

 

David Mundell added: "Some larger enterprises are astonished that the current Government grants of up to £9,000 in other parts of the UK have not, so far at least, been matched by the SNP at Holyrood."

 

Meanwhile, new data shows that 530 jobseekers in Dumfries and Galloway have been helped to start new enterprises through direct UK Government support during the last decade.