Support for business

East Lothian Council is aware that COVID-19 (known as Coronavirus) has had an impact on our local businesses, social enterprises and communities.We appreciate that in the current climate many of our business owners (across all sectors) are facing uncertainty. 

There has been a high volume of information and updates from a variety of sources so we are aiming to streamline this to bring you the most relevant and up-to-date resources available.

Here are some things to note:

  • We remain open for business. While we might have to work in slightly different ways, the Economic Development Team will remain open for as long as we are able to.  Every member of our team can and will work from home as necessary.
  • We will continue to work in partnership. Across Scotland – councils, government departments and business support agencies will continue to work together to support our businesses. If you need help with something then please contact us:  [email protected].
  • We are looking at other ways in which we might be able to support you, such as holding meetings via phone or Skype, or providing information and tutorials online.

Business Gateway

We are putting in place actions to allow us to deliver a virtual advisory and workshop service where possible. Our advisers can offer free support with a wide range of business matters including continuity planning, managing cashflow, HR and dealing with suppliers. We would also encourage you to check your business insurance.


We already have a range of guidance and information online about business continuity planning and are working on additional articles, webinars and support which will be published on the Business Gateway website, which also contains links to the Scottish and UK government websites in relation to information for employers and employees. 

Business Support

The Scottish Government announced a range of measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 outbreak.  This support will be available to businesses during the 2020/21 financial year and includes:

  • All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% rates relief.
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief. To get this relief, a property has to be occupied.
  • All UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
  • Small and medium sized businesses and employers can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to this crisis.

One-off grants are also available for some businesses.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and up to and including £50,999 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000.

A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses who receive:

  • Small Business Bonus Scheme relief
  • Rural Relief

You can also receive this grant if you currently qualify for Nursery Relief, Business Growth Accelerator Relief or Disabled Relief and would alternatively also been eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme instead.

If a ratepayer has more than one eligible property anywhere in Scotland, they will only qualify for one grant in relation to one of those properties.


Applying for a grant and getting paid

Please complete all of the parts of this application that apply to you in full, and email a copy to [email protected].

  • Please ensure you provide a scanned recent bank statement that shows the same sort code and account number quoted on your application form (see section 5 of the application form)
  • Please ensure that your application form is completed in full
  • Please ensure that your application quotes your Business Rates account number, which starts ‘30’ and can be found on your Business Rates bill
  • Please make sure that your application, and supporting bank evidence, can be easily read and is oriented correctly
  • Please ensure that the bank details provided don’t have a payment limit that could potentially block any grant payment

We will aim to review your application and respond within 10 working days.

To help us manage your application, please quote your Business Rates account number in all communications.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected] and quote your Business Rates account number.


Business Interruption Loan

East Lothian Investments is offering loans up to a maximum of £5,000, interest free with a holiday repayment period of four months. Open to existing businesses only that have been trading for more than two years and have employees.  

A new helpline has been launched to supply Scottish businesses with tailored advice on Coronavirus. 0300 303 0660 between 08:30 and 17:30 Monday to Friday. 


Support for the self-employed

The UK Government has also announced that those who are self-employed wil receive support in line with the Job Retention Scheme, covering 80% of their average income. This cannot yet be applied for. HMRC will check eligibility and invite applications in due course. More information is on the Government website


Charities & Voluntary Organisations

The Third Sector Resilience Fund will support organisations across the third sector who are at risk of closure due to a sharp decrease in income or that are unable to deliver their services during this difficult period.  The fund will support charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises that already deliver services and/or products but that find themselves in financial difficulties directly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding’s primary intention is to help these organisations to stabilise and manage cashflow over this difficult period and will open on Wednesday 25th March.


Tourism & Events Industry

A new free-to-use jobs portal to help workers from the tourism and hospitality sectors who have 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 recruitment portal is designed to help tourism and hospitality staff find at least temporary employment in other sectors such as food retail and supply, health care and delivery that now require high volumes of staff to get through the crisis.


The Scottish Government advice on 15th March to organisers is that all events, both indoors and outdoors, be cancelled or postponed.  VisitScotland is assessing the impact on the events and tourism sectors and are asking event organisers to complete a survey, available til Monday 30th March. 

Food & Drink Sector

Guidance is provide on the Food Standards Scotland website. 

Our Environmental health team has also produced leaflets on providing food to your customers at this time. 

Creative Industry

Creative Scotland has launched three funding programmes designed to provide further support to sustain the country’s creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund will help sustain creative practice by freelance creative professionals who have lost earnings due to the cancellation of work as a result of COVID-19
  • A parallel Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund will provide similar one-off bursary support to self-employed screen sector workers
  • The Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development will provide support for individuals and organisations to sustain their creative development in the coming months