Charlene Wallace – Chief Executive – West Lothian Chamber of Commerce.

The recent new measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes have been largely welcomed and as we enter uncharted waters with the narrative changing on almost an hourly basis, there is no real grasp of what the end result might be, but this is certainly a start.

Broadly speaking, amongst the key points the minister announced, there will be a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020; an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19, a 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020 and fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020

The challenges we all face in the coming months are unprecedented, but we do know that the implications for businesses and the economy over the coming weeks and months will be immense.

Whilst, at the time of writing, Britain is still open for business, it remains critically important that we take the soundings from the latest economic analysis and impact reports. The tourism and hospitality sectors are known to be facing immediate pressure, which is why the Scottish Government has responded in such a resolute fashion. Think of that for a moment. The Tourism and Hospitality sectors are our lifeblood. It needs to be nurtured in whichever way it can be.

We ask you – as Chamber members –  to review your business continuity plans and emergency activation plans. This will help mitigate the impact coronavirus will have on critical business functions, products and services.

Knowing what must be considered and ensuring there is sufficient cash flow to keep the business afloat in an environment where demand may be dropping off, compounded by staffing problems, could be the difference between a business surviving or failing.

That is why, we maintain an open dialogue with The Scottish Government through the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to respond to expert advice and remain in contact with you, our members at all times. Communication will be vital.

Together we can help lessen the impact of COVID-19 with strong advice, a common-sense approach to health and safety – the ‘regimes’ that have already been widely publicised.


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