SUPPORT FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES OVER CORORNAVIRUS FEARS

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South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine, has urged local businesses who have concerns about the impact of coronavirus to contact the Scottish Government’s new business helpline. The service has been set up to provide up to the minute information and advice to any business operating or based in Scotland. The number is 0300 303 0660 and it’s open from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

The helpline was launched this week to help limit the impact of coronavirus on businesses, along with £320m worth of financial measures which were announced by Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes last week. The package, which includes grants and rates relief for small businesses means companies operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, who have a rateable value of less than £69,000 will be eligible for 75% rates relief, with grants of at least £3,000 for eligible companies. Pubs, too, will benefit from rates relief of up to £5,000 for those with a rateable value of less than £100,000.

A further £780m for Scotland has been pledged by the UK Government to ensure the NHS, businesses and the public have the resources needed to tackle Coronavirus, along with a multi £billion soft loan rescue package.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,

“The Dumfries and Galloway economy relies heavily on the tourism and hospitality sectors which are facing some of the worst economic impact so it’s reassuring that much of this support will be directed at them in particular.

“I’d encourage anyone who runs a business and who is worried about impacts of the coronavirus to contact the Scottish Government’s business helpline right away. It will give advice on what support is available as well as how to apply for grants and loans.

“Businesses receiving support are being encouraged to operate with fair work principles including supporting staff to self-isolate when they need to and if they have caring responsibilities and to consider keeping staff in employment where at all possible.

“In response to advice from the UK and Scottish Government my constituency staff will be working from home so my office on Dumfries High Street will not be open to the public. But we’ll continue to remain accessible to constituents at this very difficult time, either via email at joan.mcalpine.msp@parliament.scot <mailto:joan.mcalpine.msp@parliament.scot>, or by phone on 01387 255334.

“Please follow the official medical advice on social distancing, self-isolation and hygiene. This will help stop the spread of the virus and protect our most vulnerable citizens. For regular updates go www.nhsinform.scot <www.nhsinform.scot/> or call the Coronavirus health helpline 0800 028 2816.”