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Support for self-employed is crucial, says Caithness business leader


By Gordon Calder


A CAITHNESS business leader said today it is crucial the self-employed are supported by the Scottish and UK governments during the coronavirus pandemic.

The call was made by Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce.

She said: "While we welcome the substantial packages of support for business announced by both UK and Scottish governments over the past week, we are aware that there are many businesses that do not qualify for these support packages at present.

"Of particular note are the self-employed, although we understand that work is ongoing to develop a package of support in this area. Those in self-employment are mainstays of the economy and it is crucial that government supports them at this difficult time.

"We are also aware of gaps in existing provision, in particular that self-catering premises are not considered eligible for the emergency small business grants. It is unacceptable that provision is not being made for all businesses affected by coronavirus, and we urge Scottish Government to address this shortcoming as soon as possible."

Those in self-employment are mainstays of the economy and it is crucial that government supports them at this difficult time.

Ms Morris added: "There is also an alarming lack of information on key questions surrounding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is making it difficult for many employers to access. In particular, for those who have employees on part-time, variable hours or zero-hour contracts, there has been no clarity given on how wage bills should be calculated over the coming months.

"It is imperative that HM Revenue and Customs provides this information to businesses now to enable them to access support and give security to their staff.

"The Scottish Government has now issued clear guidelines on what it considers to be essential businesses, and we encourage all businesses to read these and carefully consider whether they need to continue operating during this period.

"This is a fast-changing and difficult situation, but we are working hard alongside our colleagues in Scottish Chambers of Commerce to bring issues to the attention of government and to get the support and answers that businesses in the north Highlands require."

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak was due to announce measures to help the self-employed.



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