as a valued part of our business community I wanted to write to you with an update on the priority actions the Chamber is taking to support businesses through the ongoing coronavirus situation.
Current news, guidance and support for business can be accessed here:
The situation is fast-moving, unpredictable and unprecedented so we are constantly monitoring the situation, talking with members, partners and liaising with the British Chambers of Commerce and others to ensure we are best placed to continue to support your business in the way you need us to.
As your Chamber, we are here to represent you and we need to understand the specific challenges you face so we can react and communicate directly with government. To help us do this, please share your concerns directly by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As measures continue to be announced by government, we’ll be conducting national polling on the support you need in the days and weeks ahead, and we would strongly encourage you to respond.
It is already clear that there will be significant financial implications for businesses and the wider economy. We want to ensure we retain a strong and resilient North-east business community when we come out the other end.
We have therefore been working behind the scenes with government at all levels and as a result, measures which have been introduced include the following:
- A package of £330bn of commercial loan guarantees
- A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
- A specific Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, offering loans of up to £5m for small businesses
- Upscaling of HMRC’s Time to Pay Scheme
- A £320m package of support from the Scottish Government, offering rates reliefs for key sectors and grants for SMEs
Further detail is available at the British Chambers of Commerce hub.
The Scottish Government has also created business helpline which will operate Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm. Click here for more details: https://www.gov.scot/news/covid-19-helpline-for-scottish-businesses/
Of course, more is needed and our current focus is on:
- Accelerated detail on the practical access to the schemes mentioned above, so that firms are able to access any necessary funding and reliefs as soon as possible
- Confirmation from Scottish Government that Barnett consequentials arising from the UK business support measures announced on March 17 will be fully passed on to support businesses in Scotland
- Getting clarity on how this support can be quickly and easily accessed specifically details around further business rates relief
- A comprehensive support package for the aviation sector which ensures that the vital connectivity provided by Aberdeen International Airport is protected during this period
Supported by our national teams at the Scottish and British Chambers of Commerce, we continue to engage with Government Ministers regularly as the situation evolves, and the Chamber is in contact with our local representatives to illustrate the challenges business continue to face during this difficult time.
We’ll continue to call for further support for business during this challenging time, you can see our recent commentary in the Evening Express calling for further rates relief.
We are also engaging on a North-east business resilience programme with partners including local authorities, other business organisations and sector representatives to ensure that our regional response reflects the needs of our members.
We have today introduced a number of measures which put people’s health and wellbeing first and this will mean some changes to our normal modus operandi, hopefully for just a short period.
Training & Events
- In line with government guidance, our training courses scheduled to take place up to the end of April have been postponed and will be rescheduled to alternative dates later in the year. Our team is in the process of contacting every customer impacted by this. The current schedule can be found at https://www.agcc.co.uk/training. If you have any queries please contact email@example.com
- Our events programme has also been adjusted and details of the latest position can be found at https://www.agcc.co.uk/events
- We are currently looking at converting the April 29 Business Breakfast to a webinar format. Highly appropriate given the topic! Look out for more details
- The Chamber’s AGM is still planned to take place on June 17 at our Bridge of Don office
- The Ultimate Business Show is now expected to take place in September. Look out for updates. If you have any queries get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
International trade documentation
- For members trading internationally, be assured that our services are continuing. We are working with our customers to increase self-service capability and would encourage all customers to adopt this approach. However the Chamber office will remain open with a reduced number of staff to service client needs. For any specific questions, please contact email@example.com
We remain fully accessible to discuss any concerns which you may have and the team can be contacted through the regular channels. Please also remember that Chamber members have access to a range of money-saving and added value services including a free 24-hour legal helpline.
These are indeed unprecedented times and the situation will remain challenging. The Chamber is not a government organisation and our core operations are entirely privately funded. We too are a small business, facing the same pressures as you. It is only the support of our members that enables us to do the work we do on your behalf. Thank you for this.