The following was updated on Friday 19 February at 4pm.


We've outlined the details of additional funding measures announced over the last week which may prove useful to you and your business:

Non sector-specific update for individuals and businesses

Support for the Hospitality and Tourism sector

Support for the Agriculture and Rural sector

Support for the Seafood Sector

Support for Freelancers and the Events sector

Support for the Health and Beauty Sector

Support for Childcare Providers

Non sector specific update for individuals and businesses

More help for Self Assessment taxpayers

HMRC has announced that Self Assessment taxpayers will not be charged a 5% late payment penalty if they pay their tax or set up a payment plan by 1 April 2021.

The payment deadline for Self Assessment is 31 January and interest will continue to be charged on overdue amounts at a rate of 2.6% from 1 February on any amounts outstanding. Normally, a 5% late payment penalty is also charged on any unpaid tax that is still outstanding on 3 March. But this year, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, HMRC is giving taxpayers more time to pay or set up a payment plan.

Taxpayers also have until this date to set up a Time to Pay arrangement (TTP) and avoid the penalty. This can be done online for debts of £30,000 or less.

Interest will continue to be charged under the TTP, but penalties will be avoided as long as the taxpayer arranges the TTP by 1 April and makes timeous payments under the agreed plan. For debts over £30,000, a call to HMRC will be required on 0300 200 3835.

Taxpayers can pay their tax bill or set up a monthly payment plan online at GOV.UK. They need to do this by midnight on 1 April to prevent being charged a late payment penalty.

Non-domestic rates relief extended

Retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses will pay no rates during 2021-22 under proposals outlined in one of a series of measures announced by Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes. This follows confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus (COVID-19) spending.

The move builds on the three month rates relief extension announced in the Scottish Budget and will be taken forward provided the Scottish Government receives the funding already assumed from the UK Budget on 3 March, and that requisite funds are available to maintain existing support into 2021-22. Newspapers will also continue to benefit from 100% relief for a further 12 months, while charitable rates relief will not be removed from mainstream independent schools until 1 April 2022 due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

 Strategic Framework Business Fund

If your business is required to close by law or to significantly change its operations due to COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible to apply for grant funding. Grant funding for eligible business will cover the period of any closures or restrictions with the earliest claim date being 2 November 2020. You can still apply even if you are required to close or modify your operations for less than 4 weeks.

Applications to the Strategic Framework Business Fund should be made through your local authority website. Grants will be paid every 4 weeks in arrears as long as restrictions last.

 Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and R&D

A word of warning for companies claiming SME R&D relief. There’s a potential bear trap if you make a claim under the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (CSSPRS). This has been confirmed by HMRC, whose hands are tied by the R&D rules on notified State Aid. Rebates under the CSSPRS are notified State Aid and, in line with HMRC's long-standing practice of treating sick pay as part of the cost of employing staff, a company making a claim under the CSSPRS for any employee who has worked on the company’s R&D project(s) would be prevented from claiming SME R&D relief in respect of the entirety of its expenditure on those R&D projects. This applies to both the current accounting period and future accounting periods if the project continues longer. Any company claiming SME R&D relief should take advice before claiming under the CSSPRS for any employee involved in R&D activities, as the financial impact on the company’s R&D tax relief could be very detrimental. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact David Ward on or another member of the Innovation Taxes team.  

 Legal Aid Resilience Fund

A coronavirus (COVID-19) resilience fund for legal aid firms and law centres, worth up to £9 million, has opened for applications. The Coronavirus Resilience and Recovery Fund for Legal Aid has been created to provide financial support to enable legal aid services to the public to continue - assisting those practitioners that have had a reduction in legal aid business levels because of the restrictions in place. The resilience fund forms part of a wider Scottish Government package of support for the legal aid sector worth up to £20 million. Regulations increasing fees, worth up to £10 million, were laid in Parliament at the beginning of February, and £1 million has been committed towards supporting traineeships. The fund is open to any legal firms whose turnover is usually at least 20% derived from legal aid payments, and who have experienced a drop in projected income from new legal aid business, once any other form of COVID-related government support is taken into account. The deadline for applications to the fund is 31 March 2021. Find out more here.

 Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

The scheme offers a one-off £4,000 payment for those whose status as being newly self-employed makes them ineligible for the UK Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme. If you received funding through the first round of the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, launched in April 2020, you are still able to apply for support. This is a follow-on from that scheme and recognises the need for further help with living costs. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 16 March 2021. Find out more here

 Flexible Workforce Development Fund

SMEs across Scotland can benefit from up to £5,000 of online training through a new programme launched earlier this month by The Open University in Scotland. The initiative supports SME businesses with training to boost productivity and growth in response to COVID-19. It is being rolled out following the £1 million commitment to The Open University (OU) in Scotland from the Scottish Funding Council’s Flexible Workforce Development Fund Phase 2. The Flexible Workforce Development Fund training offered by The Open University reflects existing Scottish skills gaps including leadership and business, digital and IT, health & social care and the green economy. It will be delivered online through a range of short courses and modules, many of which are industry accredited and contribute to undergraduate or postgraduate credit. Small to medium sized enterprises, for this fund businesses with less than 250 employees, are advised to make an application as soon as possible, as access to the fund will be on a first-come-first-served basis. Training contract will be agreed by July 2021 and will be delivered by March 2022. Find out more here.


Support for the Hospitality and Tourism sector

Scotland Coach Operators – COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund (deadline fast approaching on Tuesday 23 February!)

This fund opened on 16 February but is only open for a week! The fund has been established to provide financial support for Scottish based businesses in the coach operators sector, critical to Scotland’s tourism economy. It will support businesses, who incur significant costs for vehicles which cannot operate while restrictions on travel are still in place, and to help prepare for recommencing operations when restrictions are lifted. The fund closes to applications at 5pm on Tuesday 23 February 2021 and you can find more information here

Hostel COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund

This very recently launched fund, which opened on 17 February, aims to help keep hostel businesses operating while coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on opening and travel are still in place, and to support them to prepare for reopening in 2021 when restrictions are lifted. This fund will provide financial support for the hostel sector in the form of one-off grants. The communal nature of these facilities and their traditional guest demographic has meant that necessary rules about physical distancing, the number of people and the number of households which can meet indoors and operating restrictions on the use of their shared facilities have impacted upon their trade. The deadline for applications is midday on Tuesday 2 March 2021 and you can find out more information here

Support for Bed & Breakfasts Paying Council Tax Grant (No need to apply)

This fund will provide bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) that pay council tax, but not non-domestic rates, with financial support equivalent to the Strategic Framework Business Fund Level 4 payments. This amounts to grants of £2,000 every four weeks. Local authorities will identify and invite eligible businesses to register for payment from 15 February 2021. There is no need to apply. Payments will be made every four weeks from the start of January 2021. This will cover the period of Level 4 restrictions which came into effect from 26 December 2020, and the ongoing lockdown period as long as Level 4 restrictions are in place. You can find out more here

Exclusive Use Grant (No need to apply)

The grant will make one-off payments of £10,000 to eligible applicants. Exclusive use businesses are eligible if they pay non-domestic rates and have been evaluated by the Scottish Assessors Association as an "exclusive use venue" providing overnight accommodation in their main building, in lodges at the property, or a combination of both. Local authorities will identify and invite eligible businesses to register for payment from 15 February 2021. There is no need to apply. This additional grant does not affect your eligibility for the Strategic Framework Business Fund. Find out more here.

Large Self-Catering Grant (No need to apply)

Self-catering businesses are eligible to financial support through this grant if they have a property which accommodates seven or more people, and for which they pay non-domestic rates. The number of bed spaces will be linked to records held by the Rates Assessors. A property must have been recorded as having seven or more bed spaces by the Assessor on 1 January 2021 to be eligible. The grant will make one-off payments of £2,000 to eligible applicants. Local authorities will identify and invite eligible businesses to register for payment. There is no need to apply. This additional grant does not impact on your eligibility for the Strategic Framework Business Fund. You can find out more information here


Support for the Agriculture and Rural sector

Preparing for the future: setting the direction and shape for agricultural support

Speaking at his annual address at the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) AGM on 13 February, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing set out proposals for legislation on the protection of livestock, proposals for a green recovery and provided farmers and crofters with financial clarity by setting out the payment strategy for 2021. After a tumultuous year with coronavirus (COVID-19) and Brexit uncertainty, Mr Ewing laid out the key role that farmers and crofters will play in managing Scotland’s environment and landscape along with being part of the climate solution. To give them the certainty to plan ahead, he provided assurance around finances by committing to another run of The National Basic Payment Support Scheme with loan payments starting in September 2021.

Scottish Country Sports Tourism Restart Fund

The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Restart Fund has been established to support the Scottish country sports tourism sector to survive the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is estimated that the value of country sports tourism to the Scottish economy is £200 million per year, with 8,800 full-time equivalent jobs being supported by the sector. The £1 million fund is being delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and has been developed with the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group and The British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

Applications for the fund are open from 12pm on Wednesday 24 February until 5pm on Wednesday 3 March. Applications must be submitted during this time period and will not be considered on a first come, first served basis. Find out more on eligibility criteria here.

Coronavirus Scottish Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Fund 

If you are a zoo or aquarium in Scotland and are experiencing financial hardship which is affecting your conservation projects, you may be able to apply for a grant of up to £400,000 per project to continue them. You can apply for more than one project and any grant award for conservation will not affect an application for emergency welfare funding. The fund is designed to help continue with these vital conservation projects to protect Scotland’s at-risk species and to assist zoos and aquariums. Before applying for the Scottish zoo and aquarium conservation project fund, check that you are eligible and that the expenses are eligible. Round 2 of funding requests is now open - deadline for applications is 10 March 2021. Find out more here


Support for the Seafood Sector

Seafood Producers Resilience Fund 

As referenced in our last funding update, a new £7.75 million funding package has been announced to offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses and ports and harbours threatened by the ongoing effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU Exit. The package includes £6.45 million for the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund which will provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU and have lost access to domestic food markets as a result of COVID-19; £1 million to be made available to support the investment plans of ports and harbours faced with a loss of income through landing fees; and up to £300,000 to assist the welfare and emergency support activities of the Fishermen’s Mission in recognition of the hardship people working in the sector are facing at this time.

Businesses that meet the eligibility criteria are invited to submit an application on or before 26 February 2021 but are advised to please read the application form carefully before submitting. There are separate forms for aquaculture businesses and for fishing vessels and you must complete the correct form for your business. Find out more here.

Priorities for seafood taskforce: urgent work required to support the sector

In addition to the funding summarised above, the first meeting of the new Scottish Seafood taskforce, formed in the wake of Brexit, met for the first time on last week, drawing together senior political figures, industry representatives and UK government officials, to try to solve ongoing problems with exports to European Union markets. Ahead of the meeting, Scotland Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, said "streamlining export processes, fixing IT systems, and resolving trade issues with the EU must be urgent priorities for the task force." We will watch with interest and share information as it comes through.


Support for Freelancers and the Events sector

The Events Industry Support Fund 2

The Events Industry Support Fund 2 is being delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, with development input from the Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG). The fund is open for applications, until 5pm on 26 February 2021, to new applicants who were ineligible to apply to the Events Industry Support Fund when it was launched in August 2020. It will provide financial support to Scottish businesses operating across the events industry, that are still facing hardship as a result of COVID-19, to help keep them in business while restrictions on events are still in place, so that they are able to support the delivery of events in Scotland when restrictions are lifted. Find out more here


Support for the Health and Beauty Sector

Mobile and Home-based Close Contact Services Fund

This funding is being provided by the Scottish Government. Eligible applicants will receive a one-off £4,000 payment (£2,000 for the period to end December 2020 and a further £2,000 to cover the period from January 2021 onwards). The deadline for applications is 5pm on 16 March 2021. To be eligible for this grant you must:

  • have been operating your business before 17 March 2020
  • have lost income as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, and
  • meet all of the eligibility criteria.

This fund is for owners and operators of mobile and home-based close contact service businesses and for registered driving instructors. It is not for employees of those businesses. If you are an employee of one of those businesses, you should speak with your employer on your eligibility for support through the UK Government’s Job Retention scheme. If you think you are eligible and intend to apply, please gather all of the information and supporting evidence outlined in the "Important information" section before starting your application. You can find out more information here.


Support for Childcare Providers

Temporary Restrictions Fund for Childcare Providers 

This fund provides support to childcare services that are currently only permitted to open to look after vulnerable children or those of key workers. You can apply for a grant covering the four-week period of restrictions from 4 January to 29 January 2021. Applications for the first round will close on 1 March 2021 - find out more here