Advice for businesses and jobseekers

Our Economic Development and Business Gateway team continues to support businesses in the area by email and telephone, and through regular social media posts.

Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

This Scottish Government fund provides hardship relief to those who became self-employed on or after 6 April 2019, and were actively trading up to March 2020, and who have not been able to access support through other schemes.

The £34 million fund, which is being managed by local councils, will be allocated to those eligible through £2,000 grants.

Business rates

The Scottish Government announced changes to non-domestic rates for the financial year 2020/21 to help businesses deal with the impact of COVID-19. A further amendment to the scheme on 15 April 2020 was implemented from 5 May 2020.

The Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund

The Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund is being administered by Local Authorities. It consists of the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

Eligible business ratepayers can apply for these grant funds up until 31 March 2021. The grants are aimed at helping to keep small and medium-sized companies in business and keep productive capacity so that they can recover. Their intention is to:

  • Protect jobs
  • Prevent business closure
  • Promote economic recovery

This Fund is part of a suite of measures designed to support businesses experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19. To support as many different types, sizes, and sectors of business as is possible, recipients of one Fund may not be eligible to receive support from another. Businesses are encouraged to refrain from claiming additional grant support unless absolutely necessary and, when making this determination, to consider on the Scheme’s objectives above.

Small Business Grant Fund: who’s eligible?

Ratepayers of businesses located in a non-domestic property on 17 March 2020 can apply to access a support fund and receive a small business support grant of £10,000 if they:

  • receive the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS)
  • receive Rural Relief
  • or are eligible for SBBS, but receive:
    • Nursery Relief
    • Disabled Relief
    • Fresh Start Relief
    • Business Growth Accelerator Relief
    • Enterprise Areas Relief
    • Sports Relief
    • or Charitable Rates Relief.

From 5 May 2020, ratepayers with multiple business properties meeting these criteria are eligible to receive a one-off grant of £10,000 for their first property, and £7,500 for each subsequent qualifying property. These are only available to ratepayers whose premises were occupied on 17 March 2020 for the business uses specified.

From 5 May 2020, new arrangements will enable ratepayers of properties in the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure sectors & previously ineligible for support to access the Small Business Grant Fund. Ratepayers operating properties in Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure where individual rateable values do not exceed £18,000 and cumulative rateable value is between £35,001 -£51,000, will now be able to apply for the Small Business Grant Fund for each of their Retail, Hospitality or Leisure properties.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund: who’s eligible?

Ratepayers of businesses in the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure sectors operating in premises with a rateable value between £18,001 - £51,000 inclusive can apply for a Grant of £25,000.

From 5 May 2020, ratepayers with multiple business properties which meet these criteria are eligible to receive a one-off grant of £25,000 for their first property and £18,750 for each subsequent qualifying property. These are only available to a ratepayer whose premises were occupied on 17 March 2020 for the business uses specified.

Important: please read

  • These payments are grants. A grant awarded on a valid application, does not need to be refunded by the recipient.
  • In each case, the rateable value & listed purpose used to assess eligibility are those on 17 March 2020 (regardless of any subsequent amendment on appeal).
  • Information provided by an applicant will be verified against other information sources held by this Council. This will assist timely application processing, fraud prevention and for auditing purposes.
  • Councils will aim to make payment within 10 working days from receipt of a fully completed application and once all information and evidence in support of an application has been verified. Applications may be subject to delay if incomplete or incorrect details are supplied.
  • If a grant is awarded on the basis of false or inaccurate information, it may result in arrangements being made to recover the award, and legal proceedings being initiated.

How to apply

Apply online for this scheme:

Please note that The City of Edinburgh Council are dealing with these applications on our behalf. You will be taken to a page on their website.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Claim the coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) on the HM Revenue & Customs portal. This scheme is for the self-employed or a members of a partnership that have lost income due to coronavirus. The service opened to claims on Wednesday 13 May, with payments reaching bank accounts by 25 May, or six working days after the claim is made.


The scheme will benefit self-employed individuals or those in a partnership whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, covering most people who get at least half of their income from self-employment. SEISS is a temporary scheme that will enable those eligible to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits) in a single instalment.

Where individuals are ineligible for the scheme, HMRC will direct them to guidance setting out the conditions to help them understand why they are ineligible, and advice about other support that might be available to them such as income tax deferrals, rental support, Universal Credit, access to mortgage holidays and the various business support schemes the government has introduced to protect businesses during this time.   

Further financial support for the self-employed

Current guidelines are that the self-employed can claim Universal Credit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

The Money Advice Service has issued guidance for the self-employed and sole traders, and a useful tool to help you identify what your entitlement for Universal Credit would be.

See also the section on the HMRC Self-employment Income Support Scheme above.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The UK Government has issued further guidance on the recoverable costs for employers made on behalf of furloughed employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Costs include National Insurance and Pension contributions that are made above the mandatory employer contribution.

Jobs support (online portal)

Are you:

  • at risk of losing your job, facing reduced hours or need support to secure work?
  • a business looking to recruit urgently to respond to high demands as a result of COVID-19?

If so, you can register your details at a new Covid-19 Jobs and Support portal. It allows you to advertise jobs, search for live vacancies, recruit employers, link to employability support and find up-to-date information on your rights.

After you register, you can search for job opportunities, add your skills and qualifications, upload your CV and cover letter, and tailor your job preferences.

Hospitality and tourism job portal

A free-to-use jobs portal to help workers from the tourism and hospitality sectors who’ve found themselves displaced as a result of the COVID-19 situation has been launched, supported by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) and UK Hospitality.

The portal will help those who have already been made redundant or had contracts terminated. It will also allow companies, such as those in the food and drink, retail and care sectors with under-employed staff, to second them to work in other sectors during the crisis. Video-screening will be provided as part of the service to speed up the recruitment process.

The portal will not be visible to the public, and can only be accessed by the tourism and hospitality community through a link provided by participating companies.

If you're having to let go of staff, or if you're an organisation wishing to register vacancies, please email [email protected] to receive more information.     

Helplines to support businesses

Midlothian Council

Midlothian Council has moved to critical service delivery only. Dr Grace Vickers, the Chief Executive said:

“We are now responding to a public health emergency and our dedicated staff will make every effort to ensure that critical services are delivered to those who need our help. We are appealing for residents to only contact the council only if necessary to allow staff to concentrate on critical services."

The Council website is regularly updating the News section of the website, keeping local residents and businesses up to date with service delivery.

Council workforce assistance programme

Midlothian Council has been contacted by local businesses offering the assistance of their staff at these challenging times. We are grateful to businesses for offering their support. A team has now been established at the council to co-ordinate these offers and to contract with businesses as Providers in supplying Temporary Staff. The council is currently looking for temporary workers with catering and cleaning experience (ideally with PVG). Should any businesses be able to provide temporary workers to the council, they should get in touch.

Business Gateway

The Business Gateway office is closed to visitors and advisers are all working remotely. Please direct all enquiries to [email protected] during this time.

Business Gateway will continue to provide website and social media updates related to the Coronavirus, so please do keep checking back to stay informed.

Should you need adviser support, please contact the team at the email and phone numbers below.

Business Gateway contact details

Follow us on social media

Business Gateway webinars

Business Gateway has a suite of webinars and online tutorials to help you manage your business now for the future:      

Funding and opportunities

  • UK Government guidance for employees, employers and businesses in providing advice about the Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Innovate UK as part of UK Research and Innovation, has launched a funding competition for innovation projects of between £25k and £50k
  • The Community Action Fund has released funding of up to £10k to support charities that are making a significant difference in their communities as a direct result of COVID-19. The fund is to support charities to develop and deliver on these essential services
  • Creative Scotland Fund. Designed to provide support to sustain Scotland's creative community during the Covid19 pandemic
  • British Business Bank have expanded the Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) enabling smaller businesses to access this fund.

Data Driven Innovation Programme

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Programme has allocated up to £100,000 to be released as small grants to enable staff and students at the University of Edinburgh to practically apply data-driven innovation ideas in support of communities, services and businesses in the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland Region.

Heritage Emergency Fund

The £50m fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000. It is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.

Organisations which have received funding in the past or are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant, can still apply.

Future Fund

Future Fund issues convertible loans to innovative UK companies with good potential, that typically rely on equity investment and are currently affected by Covid-19. The scheme is designed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank. For more information see the British Business Bank website, and the Future Fund factsheet (PDF).

Further information and useful contacts

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