Covid Discretionary Grant Scheme Given Green Light

Members of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee have approved a new discretionary grant scheme to mitigate some of the short-term financial challenges being experienced by businesses adversely impacted by restrictions and regulations introduced since October to control the spread of COVID-19.

In recognition of the significant financial hardships and risks for businesses as a result of COVID-19 protective measures, the Scottish Government has made available a range of grants to businesses which are being delivered by The Highland Council, including a new discretionary grant of up to £1,525,924.

Unlike previous funds which have been targeted towards specific groups or sectors impacted by COVID-19, this new wide-ranging Discretionary Fund will empower the Council to direct additional financial support to specific groups or sectors within the business community where they consider this to be necessary or justified based on the distinct characteristics of their local economies, including those who may potentially be falling through the current funding gap.

Chair of the Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said:

“The Council has fulfilled a key role in delivering, on behalf of the Scottish Government, a number of grant schemes.

“To date our team of staff have processed grants of approx. £85m to over 8000 businesses.

“A benefit of this new discretionary grant is that it is not sector specific but is wide ranging and therefore potentially offers support for a wide range of businesses.

“Following approval today, we will now be finalising the guidance and preparing the online application form, with the aim to launch the grant scheme during next week (week commencing 8 Feb).”

Details of the new scheme including the deadline for all applications will be published on the Council’s website and promoted on social media channels.

Separately Councillors were advised that a small additional grant allocation has been provided to the Council from the Scottish Government, to provide for support for businesses in the Small Isles and Raasay who currently are unable to access the same Strategic Framework Business Fund grant support that is available to Tier 4 mainland Highland businesses.

Council staff are contacting these businesses directly to advise them on the opportunity to apply for support.