Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Guidance  – Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The U.K. Government have launched a  scheme for  if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus.

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

Full information around the scheme can be found on the U.K. Government website here. 

Although the government has finally bowed to pressure and announced support for the self-employed delaying the first payments till June is not parity with employees, and it will do nothing to relieve the anxieties of people who have lost their entire incomes.


Scottish Labour’s shadow finance minister Rhoda Grant urges Coronavirus crisis-hit businesses in the Highland and Islands to ensure they are drawing upon every last drop of government grant funding

Many of the concerns coming into my email inbox are from business owners and this information is for them. It is really difficult to see you struggle at this time. For many of you, demand has fallen off a cliff hence you will have cash flow problems and all the while you will be struggling to access help to pay staff and keep our business afloat. There is help out there and solutions are updated daily. I urge you to persevere and access this help as it is important to provide security to as many people as possible. Together we will get through this.

Here is a few pointers and background information I hope will be helpful

The Scottish Parliament’s Information Research Centre (SPice) daily blog carries contacts, stats and background information about the Coronavirus crisis.

This is updated daily.

UK Government response 

  • Employer’s with fewer than 250 employee’s will be able to reclaim two weeks’ worth of statutory sick pay paid to employees as a result of Covid-19
  • 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers 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
  • New lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Scottish Government response

Much of what the UK has announced in business support will be applicable to Scotland.

  • The planned 1.6% increase in poundage for the 2020-21 financial year has been withdrawn. This will apply to all Scottish business who pay rates
  • Occupied premises in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector will receive 100% rates relief from 1 April 2020.
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £50,999

Employment law is reserved so all UK announcements will be applicable to Scotland

UK Government response:

  • Employer’s with fewer than 250 employee’s will be able to reclaim two weeks’ worth of statutory sick pay paid to employees as a result of Covid-19
  • In the Budget on 11 March 2020, the Chancellor announced that the Government would introduce an alternative to the fit note that employees can use as evidence that they have been incapable for work.
  • The Government has maintained a line that those who are not eligible for SSP should claim benefits instead. The Government has taken steps to ease and speed up claims for access to certain benefits.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers 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.

If you run a business you can get advice by calling the Find Business Support helpline: 0300 303 0660. Press Option 1 to speak to Coronavirus helpline. Last time I checked there was a 40-minute wait to speak to someone.

Or visit

Advice about benefits and employment rights is on Citizens Advice Scotland <> .


Le dùrachd


Hospitality Businesses that have fallen through the safety net.

I have had a large number of constituents get in touch about self-catering accommodation and Bed and Breakfast providers who appear to have fallen through the safety net provided. I have now written to both Cabinet Secretaries for Finance and for the Economy in the hope that this will be corrected.
It appears that self-catering businesses do not qualify for the hospitality assistance offered, whether they are camping pods, chalets or cottages. This also appears to be the case with Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Many people obtain their full income from these properties.
Add to that that it would appear that booking agents and customers are taking back deposits, adding to hardship.

I’ve also been told that some banks are not being helpful either and thus many constituents are now facing a total loss of income.

While self-employed people now have access to a package which will pay 80% of profits up to £2,500. It unfortunately does not go far enough for individuals who have recently become self-employed as they do not have a full year of accounts and thus do not qualify. Its also worrying that money due will not be paid until June at the earliest.

If you cannot wait until June for a payment or have recently become self-employed and do not qualify for this package, I would recommend applying for Universal Credit and the welfare fund. I will further assess this package as developments are made.

I appreciate many other people will be in this situation and will post any progress here so that it is available to all.

MSP Rhoda Grant has written to the owner of a Highland hotel to affirm her support for workers who were sacked and told to leave their staff accommodation amid the Coronavirus outbreak

MSP Rhoda Grant has written to the owner of a Highland hotel to affirm her support for workers who were sacked and told to leave their staff accommodation amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Mrs Grant penned her letter this afternoon (Friday March 20) to Alex Langsam, Chief Executive of the multi-million pound chain Britannia Hotels, which owns The Coylumbridge Hotel near Aviemore.

It comes after workers who live at the hotel complex told the media they were asked to leave the premises immediately.

They said they were given a letter, dated 19 March, to say the hotel was “taking the latest government advice” on Coronavirus – and that staff employment had been terminated.

It is understood more than a dozen employees were given the letter from hotel manager Mark Johnston also telling them to vacate their accommodation immediately.

The letter, published in the media, said: “Taking the latest government advice, this letter is to confirm that with effect from 19 March 2020, your employment has been terminated and your services are no longer required.”

It added: “You are asked to vacate the hotel accommodation immediately, returning any company property.”

Alvarito Garcia from Madrid, who has worked at the hotel for two years, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland he would have to sleep in a tent and his food was going to run out.

He did not know if he could get back to Spain due to travel restrictions in place in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

He told the media staff had no warning they were about to lose their jobs.

The company issued a statement claiming the letter was a mistake – staff should not have been asked to vacate.

The full statement said:

“With regards to the current situation regarding staff at our Coylumbridge Hotel and being asked to vacate their staff accommodation.

‘Unfortunately, the communication sent to these employees was an administrative error.

“We have approximately 25 live in staff who did not receive this communication. Unfortunately, Mr Garcia and a few other members of staff received the incorrect correspondence, due to this administration error.

“All affected employees are being immediately contacted.

“We apologise for any upset caused.”

Mrs Grant said the company’s statement sounded more like “damage limitation” than compassion.

She said: “I have today written to the chief executive to stress my concern about this appalling way staff at this hotel have been treated. I have also written to Kate Forbes, the Scottish Goverment’s Finance Minister.

“I would like to know how the Scottish Government can help these people.   

“I also raised with the minister what levers would be attached to Government support for companies, especially with regard to their duty of care to workers.  I asked whether this company will benefit for this support and what steps the Government has taken to ensure that companies in receipt of support from the public purse treat their staff with dignity, respect and protect their employment.”

Mrs Grant’s open letter to Mr Alex Langsam, chief executive of Langsam Hotels reads:

Dear Mr Langsam,

I am sure I will be joining many other individuals and groups today by writing to you to raise questions and concerns about the despicable approach your company has taken towards a number of staff at the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore.

This global pandemic has undoubtedly had massive consequences for businesses and economic fears are at unprecedented levels. However, the redundancy letters your company handed to stricken staff lacked a single shred of compassion and the ensuing press coverage has demonstrated that companies slashing costs to survive at this desperately dark time can still pay a heavy price for cutting corners when making staff redundant.

Your handling of the situation is unacceptable. We have all watched on TV as a senior staff member asked the staff to leave. This was recorded by BBC Scotland for all the world to see.

I am not surprised to see that your company has taken steps to distance itself from such a sacking notice and was heartened to receive your media statement which your assistant Gail has shared with my office. However, I have to say, it smacks of damage limitation for your company rather than compassion for your staff and it raises more questions than answers.

I would, therefore, be obliged if you could enlighten me.

Your statement to the press said staff should not have been asked to vacate their live in accommodation. It said this was an “administration error” –  and all staff will be “contacted”.

What exactly does this mean in terms of their accommodation? Could you please advise me on the current situation in terms of their employment at the Coylumbridge Hotel? Given that we have watched on TV today their eviction, how do you propose to contact them? Given that Government have offered support to hospitality businesses, including rates relief, can you let me know what support your company will be looking to access?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,                              


Rhoda Grant MSP

Highlands and Islands Regional MSP

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance

Tel: 01463 716299


Rhoda Grant MSP


Warm Home Discount Scheme Worries Raised with DWP Minsiter

Highland and Islands Scottish Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant has written to the U.K. Government Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey MP to raise concerns about constituents across the Highlands and Islands who may be missing out on the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The discount can result in a £140 reduction for electricity bills for winter 2019 to 2020. The money is paid directly to the suppliers and is a one-off discount on electricity bills, between September and March. Utility customers may also be able to get the discount on gas bills instead if the supplier provides both gas and electricity.

There are 2 ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme; if someone is in receipt of the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit – known as the ‘core group’ or if someone is on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the ‘broader group’.

Only those customers who’s energy supplier is registered with the U.K. Government for the scheme are able to apply, meaning customers of smaller energy firms or those not currently registered with the scheme may be missing out.

The deadline for claiming is Tuesday 31st of March, so making a claim as soon as possible is important.

Commenting, Rhoda Grant MSP said:

“One in every four homes in the Highlands and Islands are living in fuel poverty, and one in ten are living in extreme fuel poverty, where they have to spend more than 20% of their household income on energy.

“We know that the region also suffers from some of the harshest weather conditions in the country and many homes unfortunately have poor insulation and as a result suffer from disproportionately high levels of fuel poverty.
“The Warm Home Discount Scheme has the potential to save homes across the Highlands and Islands up to £140 on their winter fuel bills, however, I am concerned that due to the eligibility criteria many households may be missing out.

“The U.K. Government must provide further details about how they are helping customers who’s energy suppliers are not registered with the scheme and also provide greater details about what steps they taking to extend protections to vulnerable customers who may be missing out on vital help with winter fuel costs.”

Council chiefs are pushing through Aviemore street lighting plans for “spooky” short cut following a request by regional MSP Rhoda Grant who raised safety concerns on behalf of residents

Rhoda Grant MSP intervened to press for the lights.

Rhoda complained lack of street lighting along Dalfaber Road made the route extremely dangerous for residents, particularly in the winter months.

In a letter to Highland Council’s chief executive Donna Manson, Rhoda said residents had contacted her saying the “pitch black” road running parallel to the railway was an accident waiting to happen, especially in wet and icy conditions.

Rhoda told the chief most residents tended to take a torch when walking down the road which was “obviously not ideal”.

It is the most direct route to the town for people who live on Osprey Grange, Dalnabay and Silverglades.

The council chief swiftly replied, granting the request.

Her letter said: “This is a section of footway that is not adopted by the Highland Council and is privately owned by Seafield Estates. We would not normally consider lighting unadopted roads and there is no lighting budget for this.

“However, in this instance it happens that Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANs) have identified this as an active travel route. They have the required funding for this and so the Highland Council will supply a lighting design to light the path and HITRANs have gained permission from Seafield Estates to allow them to carry out these works.

“The works are planned for early in the new financial year so should be in place before next winter.”

Rhoda said: “I was so pleased to receive this reply as were the residents. I will keep my eye on this to ensure this promised timeline is met.”

One local resident told the Strathy newspaper the addition of lighting is long overdue.

He said: “It is pitch black in winter months and I have to use a torch when walking down there.

“Cyclists, walkers and dog walkers are regularly surprised by figures looming out of the darkness.

It is not conducive to the safety of vulnerable people at all.”

The footpath stretching around one kilometre runs parallel to the steam railway line and past the old railway workshops used by the operators.

It is a very popular shortcut for residents of Osprey Grange, Dalnabay, and the wider Dalfaber area.

One Dalfaber house-holder, who also spoke to the Strathy, said: “It’s a long and dark walk along that track. It can be a bit spooky especially past the old haunted railway workshop. I always find it’s best to have a bit of Dutch courage inside if tackling it late at night.”

The access improvements HITRANS made last year at the Dalfaber end of the route. Rhoda said: “This has been a long-time aspiration of the community to light this route. I am so glad improvements are finally going to be delivered.”


MSP raises plans for a new merged college on Shetland in Parliament today

A Highlands and Islands MSP has asked the Scottish Government what discussions it has had regarding the proposed privatisation of a new merged college on Shetland.

Labour’s Rhoda Grant raised the issues at General Questions in Parliament today.

She said: “I have had concerns expressed to me about the level of consultation with staff, students and the wider public.

“Concerns were are also expressed around access to public funds for Further and Higher Education and the impact of privatisation on staff terms and conditions.

“Can the Minister advise me what protections would be available in the event of privatisation to allay these fears and whether they would block privatisation should it carry such risks?”

The Minister for Further, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead, replied that there was regular contact with the Scottish Funding Council on the issue but as yet there was no formal business case on the merger but when that was submitted in due course it would undergo full scrutiny.

He added: “Clearly this is a proposal that has been developed locally and we await a final business case to be signed off by Scottish Funding Council, which the Scottish Government will be consulted upon on, before any prior legislation is put in place to make the merger officially happen.

“In terms of the funding, again that is a case of the financial memorandum that would have to be signed and put together for the new merger, if that were to proceed, and then it would be signed off by the Scottish Funding Council as well. So, there are processes in place to make sure all these issues are in order.”

Mr Lochhead said he was open to Mrs Grant contacting him if she had specific concerns and he would have them looked at.

Afterwards Mrs Grant commented: “I will be taking this up with Mr Lochhead because there is real concern and unease in the community that the new merged college will be privatised.

“The new merged college will be funded predominantly from public funds and therefore needs to be subject to democratic public accountability and the scrutiny of Audit Scotland, in line with public sector finance requirements.”

Sight Action campaigner MSP Rhoda Grant ‘delighted’ NHS Highland has backtracked over plans to see its alliance with Sight Action severed.

Regional Labour MSP Rhoda Grant worked with staff and campaigners and tabled a motion for debate in the Scottish Parliament.

MSP Rhoda Grant has said she is ‘delighted’ that NHS Highland has back-tracked over plans to see its successful and long-standing alliance with Sight Action severed.

Rhoda ­­­‑ who worked with service users and staff to oppose the plan – and tabled a motion for debate in the Scottish Parliament in a bid to save Sight Action – said today’s announcement that both parties have decided to work together to find a way forward for these valuable services to continue will bring immense relief to clients.

The Inverness-based charity’s specialised qualified Rehabilitation Officers have been delivering support to more than 2700 blind and low sighted people since 2008 under contract to the health board.

However, the last few weeks have seen its future swivel on a knife-edge, after Sight Action Executive Manager Gillian Mitchell warned it could not bid to renew its contract because the health board was unwilling to adequately fund the service.

And she believed the health board’s intention to take the service in-house would see blind people “walking out in front of buses” or “not leaving the house at all”.

A campaign was quickly launched, which Rhoda helped to spearhead.

And a joint statement released from Sight Action and NHS Highland this morning shines light from the end of the tunnel.

The statement said: “We have all agreed to work together to evaluate the current model, consult with service users and identify areas of the service that will meet any new developments in Scottish Government strategic planning and ultimately benefit service users”.

Commenting, the Labour MSP said: “This has been a very frightening time for Sight Action staff and clients and I am so relieved that NHS Highland has taken pause to listen to the concerns. I’m still shaking my head as to how the health board might have considered an alternative model. I shudder to think what might have happened to the blind or partially blind people for whom Sight Action is their lifeline. However, I will be watching this issue closely. Negotiations will be tight in the coming weeks. Not only has funding for the Sight Action contract not been increased in more than a decade, it was cut by 10 per cent along the way. If Sight Action did not provide this model of service, there would be a loss of 84 years of combined qualified experience in this field of expertise. These specialist staff would leave the area, lost to the Highlands for good. Everyone knows budgets are tight but we all would still expect common sense to prevail.”

The MSP praised the hard work put in by Sight Action and service users fighting the move.

She said: “Staff, campaigners and politicians like me campaigned against this move. We were able to pick apart NHS Highland’s case, which was based on a misunderstanding of the unique difficulties that come with impaired vision. The important thing is that the campaign for Sight Action to continue delivering the contract appears to have been successful.

“I am delighted. This is a real victory for people power.”


Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant was delighted to meet apprentices from Speyside Property Service today (02.03.20) in Aviemore to promote Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020 which takes place between 2nd to 6th March 2020 and is co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland.


Mrs Grant met with apprentices from Speyside Property Services and assessors from Safety Training Solutions who asses the apprentices every 4-6 weeks. This is to promote Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020.


This year the theme of Scottish Apprenticeship Week is “Talent Without Limits”. This is celebrating the diversity that makes Scottish apprenticeships good for individuals, employers and the economy.


Rhoda Grant said: “I’m delighted to support Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020 by visiting Speyside Property Services today and chat to their apprentices about how an apprenticeship is beneficial to them.”


Mrs Grant continued: “It’s wonderful to celebrate this week as some people cannot sit in a classroom full-time so it’s important to highlight the different routes possible such as work-based learning.”


Speyside Property Services offer property maintenance services whether the home is a holiday home, holiday rental, hotel or B&B. They also provide renovation services from re-decoration to a full extension or installation of a hot tub.

Sight Action demonstation

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant supported campaigners today (02.03.20) in a demonstration outside NHS Highland HQ at Assynt House in Inverness in a bid to save a local charity, Sight Action.


Mrs Grant joined service users who are either blind or visually impaired themselves or are connected to someone who is blind or visually impaired to demonstrate how valuable Sight Action’s services are to almost 3000 adults and children within the Highlands, Islands and Moray communities.


Mrs Grant has also tabled a motion for debate within the Scottish Parliament on Sight Action and has asked NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Paul Hawking for a meeting to discuss this issue.


Mrs Grant says: “Sight Action provides incredible support to those who are blind or visually impaired. They provide equipment, aids, emotional support and home visits so that blind and visually impaired people can live as independently as possible.


“People are telling me today, that they are demonstrating, not for themselves, but for the people who will be told in the future, that they are blind or visually impaired, as it’s a very isolating time and Sight Action provides that support and hope needed to go through that change.”


Mrs Grant continued: “I think that NHS Highland needs to seriously consider what the future framework of services for the blind and visually impaired will look like because currently there is no one else at the standard of Sight Action.”


It was indicated to Mrs Grant at the end of last year that Sight Action’s valuable services to almost 3,000 blind or visually impaired adults and children will no longer continue past the 31st March 2020 as NHS Highland are unable to uplift funding – even though Sight Action have had no uplift in funding for the past twelve years compounded by a 10% cut in funding in 2010-11. This is despite the number of users increasing in this period.


This will also have a knock-on effect to service users on the Western Isles as Western Isles Council also have an agreement with Sight Action to provide specialist services.