Self-employed hardship fund

Inverclyde Council is now accepting applications for a new hardship fund for people who have become recently self-employed.

A one-off grant of £2,000 per person is available through the Scottish Government’s ‘newly self-employed hardship fund’ (NSEHF) for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Local authorities are administering the scheme across the country.

Applicants must have become self-employed after 6 April 2019. A request for support can be made up until 31 March 2021 for those who meet the eligibility criteria.

The council aims to make payments within 10 working days.

Full details, including eligibility criteria and an application form, are now available to download from the council website at


£100m funds to help business

A £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people opens for applications later today.

The three separate funds will be administered by local authorities and Scotland’s enterprise agencies and will begin to pay out grants in early May.

They include a £34 million hardship fund for the newly self-employed, a £20 million fund for small and micro enterprises in the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors and £45 million for viable SMEs crucial to the Scottish economy which are vulnerable.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our economy has been hit hard by this crisis and previously profitable businesses have seen demand dry up overnight. Our support will help alleviate the hardship those individuals and companies are facing.

“I am particularly pleased that we will be able to help the newly self-employed who do not qualify for the UK’s scheme and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We also recognise the particular impact of COVID-19 on our creative, tourism and hospitality sectors at what would normally be their busiest period. This fund is intended to relieve the hardship of smaller firms that are ineligible for other forms of support.

“As well as dealing with this immediate crisis, we must look to the future. We must ensure that viable and vital businesses in all sectors with a part to play in strengthening the resilience of Scotland’s economy survive this crisis and thrive in future, which is why £45 million is being allocated to support those firms.

“We continue to engage with businesses on a regular basis to understand their needs and press the UK Government to deliver for them.”


Applicants can access these funds and more via the website. All funds will be open for applications by 1400.

The funds which make up the £100 million support package are as follows:

  • £34 million Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, managed by Local Authorities, will be allocated to the newly self-employed who are ineligible for UK support (as they became self-employed since April 2019) but are facing hardship with £2,000 grants
  • £20 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies with support from Creative Scotland and VisitScotland for small and micro creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of business rates relief with grants of up to £25K.
  • £45 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, managed by the Enterprise Agencies providing bespoke grants and wrap around business support to viable but vulnerable SMEs who are vital to the local or national economic foundations of Scotland

The Scottish Government is also providing £1 million to top up Creative Scotland’s Bridging Bursaries in the not-for-profit sector.

Written question – Travel & COVID-19 [29/04/2020]

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people who have booked holidays that have been cancelled as a result of the covid-19 outbreak will receive a full refund in cash if they are ATOL protected; and if he will make a statement. (39667)

Tabled on: 24 April 2020

Kelly Tolhurst:

The Government recognises the challenges businesses and consumers are experiencing regarding refunds for cancelled holidays and flights. Airlines are working hard to answer the high call volumes and to process the very large number of applications for refunds.

The Government appreciates the distress and frustration consumers may be experiencing. The Department for Transport is in regular conversation with UK airlines and working closely with the sector, the regulator and consumer groups to help ensure airlines deliver on their commitments.

The Civil Aviation Authority wrote to UK airlines and some non-EU carriers last week to emphasise their approach on the issue of refunds and setting out their expectation that airlines make refunds in a reasonable period.

The answer was submitted on 29 Apr 2020 at 16:43.


COVID-19 – Stay safe and stay healthy

As the days turn into weeks and the weeks to months there is a danger that we become complacent about our role in combating the COVID-19 crisis.

At the outset we realised how important our behaviour was going to be in reducing the spread and therefore the infection rate and ultimately the fatalities. My concern is that at this important stage we lose focus and slip back into old habits.

Like everyone else I look forward to the day when the lockdown is lifted and we can visit friends and families, go to the park or even just go shopping without observing social distancing rules, but we are not there yet.

Increasingly my office is being contacted by people complaining that their sacrifice and self discipline is being undermined by a few selfish people who think the rules don’t apply to them. I have already written that I believe we are not ‘all in this together’ and it is harder for people who live in more crowded conditions and people without gardens but the fact does remain that anybody can contract COVID-19.

Having your own garden won’t protect you if you invite friends and family in. COVID-19 could yet prove to be the ultimate social disease. Don’t give it the opportunity to spread. Many people who show no symptoms may be carrying it and that includes you.

Please keep your distance and self isolate to the very best of your ability. The rules governing the lockdown have not changed.

  1. You should only travel for essential reasons such as buying groceries, healthcare, caring responsibilities or essential work.
  2. You can have one form of outside exercise each day, for up to an hour in length.
  3. Public gatherings of more than two people are temporarily prohibited.

In years to come there will be many enquiries into this pandemic, scientists and politicians will be scrutinised as to what decisions they made and what mistakes they made.

If you want to be on the right side of history then you need to make the right decisions today, tomorrow and each day until this crisis is over.

Stay safe and stay healthy.


Decision to remove gambling advertising during COVID-19 lockdown

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the industry standards body which represents betting shops, online betting and gaming, bingo and casinos, has agreed the voluntary removal of all gaming product advertising as a further part of its response to the COVID-19 lockdown, despite a drop in advertising spend and the volume of TV sport and casino advertisements dropping by up to 10 per cent.

On 2nd April, the APPG on Gambling related harm wrote to the Minister for Gambling, Nigel Huddleston MP, to ask if they will put in place tighter restrictions on online gambling during the COVID -19 crisis.

I welcome the decision by the Betting and Gaming Council for listening to the many voices, including the All-party parliamentary group on gambling related harm, who have called on the need for action on gambling and gaming advertising during the current COVID-19 outbreak.  This is a clear recognition of the harm the advertising is doing and something we raised away back in early April.

This is another step in the right direction but we on the APPG will not let up and ensure there is a review of gambling advertising post the Coronavirus pandemic.

Betting & Gaming Council news release –


Greenock Telegraph 24th April 2020

Some are more equal than others 

One of the continual drum beat messages that emanates from the UK government’s ministers is that we are all facing COVID-19 together. They repeat ad nauseam that the virus can affect anybody and will cross all social barriers. They use Prince Charles and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson as examples. But just as the Prime Minister Winston Churchill didn’t face the same dangers or hardships that the working men and woman did in WW2 ( breakfast in bed, whisky and soda at 11am, multi course lunch at 1pm, at 5pm he took a nap at 6:30pm he rose and had a bath, at 8pm he had dinner with with guests, where drinks and cigars accompanied the meal ) then neither do the richest and most privileged today. As they bend the rules to suit themselves and holiday homes and castles become havens from the virus and as a result put pressure on rural health care services, the real heroes are the people that continue to work at the frontline, the NHS nurses, auxiliaries, cleaners, care home workers, emergency service providers, our supermarket and corner shop staff, call centre workers, deliver drivers and postal workers. People in crowded accommodation and people already living on the breadline will contract the virus in greater numbers and more will die. When this is all over, I have no doubt that we will all be told that collectively we showed great spirit, that fortitude was in abundance and we are all the closer for it. But that is not the truth and we should not allow ourselves to be patronised. No doubt the Queen will hand out baubles in her honours list and men and women will kneel before the monarch in gratitude, but it should be the other way around.  

The UK Government was slow to react to the evidence, while other countries were going into lock down, Boris Johnson was shaking hands in hospitals. The herd immunity was the preferred path. When the Scottish Government was telling people not to go to pubs and clubs, the UK Government dithered, when offers of ventilators were made to the UK Government the email was ignored, when social distancing was being asked of everyone, cabinet members sat side by side at Westminster. Once again in challenging times the United Kingdom’s Government has been shown to be out of touch with reality. It can manage a sound byte, it can manage a press conference but it must not be allowed to manoeuvre itself away from all accountability. If we are to learn anything from this crisis it is that we need to reshape our society so that community and equality are more than just politically expedient words to be used during a crisis. They are the keystone of our society.


‘Virtual’ Parliament

The UK Parliament is taking the first tentative steps to reconvening as a functioning legislature. This is important for a number of reasons, not least that the UK Government requires to be scrutinised and taken to task over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In the interest of public confidence and to give them room to operate in a fast moving environment, the criticism has been kept to a minimum. Any Government must be allowed to focus all their time and energy on addressing the life threatening crisis that is in front of us and that is what has happened up to now. That is not to say all Parliament work that would have been done on the estate has stopped. The existence of telecommunications software such as Skype, Zoom, Facebook has allowed parliamentarians to hold regular meetings to discuss pertinent issues. I, like many others, have taken part in conference calls for All Party Parliamentary Groups and select committees. It isn’t the same sitting in my living room cross examining witnesses and a great deal of influence will lie in the hands of the person that controls the mute function. It’s also much harder to pursue a line of questioning, the virtual world has much less spontaneity. But for better or worse this use of technology is now stepping up a gear to include chamber work. That will entail questions to department heads which would normally take place in the chamber at the start of the working day, now taking place in the virtual world. This will include Prime Minister’s Questions on a Wednesday. We shall have to wait to see how successfully such an interactive event can be recreated and if answers can be found for the shortcomings in the handing of the current crisis. 

After weeks of stage managed press conferences it is time to ask some difficult questions of the UK Government and it will be very interesting to hear if they have answers that satisfy the very real problems that people are facing daily.