UK Government announces new Bounce Back Loan scheme for SMEs

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) affected by coronavirus can now apply for loans of up to £50,000.


The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced the new ‘Bounce Back Loans’ scheme yesterday (27 April) which will help SMEs to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.


The loans, which will be available from Monday 4 May, will be completely guaranteed by the government so there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.


Loan terms will be up to 6 years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months.  The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.


Click for more information on the scheme.




Exterity wins Queen’s Award for international trade

Dalgety Bay-based tech firm, Exterity, has been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for International Trade.


The company, which produces hardware and software for in-house video systems in hotels, cruises and government buildings around the world, employs 90 staff in Fife.


Exterity has seen strong growth over the past three years, achieving sales of around £16 million last year.


Chief Executive of the company, Colin Farquhar, said he was delighted to be one of the eight Scottish companies who have won the award this year.


“Exports are a big part of what we do, accounting for 80% of our sales,” he said.


“We have offices in France, Dubai, South Africa, Singapore, Australia and the USA and have carried out projects all over the world.”


Click to read the whole story in The Courier.


Click for more information on the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Open for Claims

Businesses can now claim for support from the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Through the scheme employers can claim for a grant for 80% of their employee’s wages, plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if they have put their employees on temporary leave (furlough) because of the coronavirus outbreak.


The scheme will be open until the end of June 2020.


There’s now updated guidance from HMRC on how to calculate your claim for your employees including a simple step-by-step guide and a calculator for you to use to check your calculations online before you submit your claim.


There’s also a useful HMRC webinar on YouTube –


Planning Permission Approved for City Region Deal Project in Kirkcaldy

Fife’s flagship Industrial Innovation Investment programme has now secured planning permission for seven new single storey business units on land to the east of Midfield Drive in Dunnikier Business Park, Kirkcaldy.



This gives the green light for work to get started on site this autumn. Construction, which will include the installation of solar panels and a new access road as well as car parking, will provide small business space to local enterprises with growth ambitions.


Email for information on the leases available for the new units.


The Fife Industrial Innovation Investment programme is part of the £1.3 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, a partnership of local authorities, universities, Scottish and UK Governments to deliver a 15-year programme that will transform the regional economy.


The programme will deliver new buildings and serviced sites across Mid and South Fife.  Over the next two years, new industrial premises will be developed across four sites in Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Lochgelly and Dunfermline.


The programme will support the creation of 1,000 new skilled permanent jobs and almost 600 short-term construction jobs.  This will be facilitated by joint working between the region’s universities and Fife businesses and Fife Council to deliver high value jobs


Cllr Neil Crooks, Convener of Fife Council’s Kirkcaldy Area Committee said: “This is a major economic opportunity for the businesses that will be able to expand into the new units.  We know that there is strong demand in Kirkcaldy for this type of unit, so the emphasis is very much on getting these ready for tenants as quickly as possible.


“Our focus in Fife is firmly on fairer economic growth, where everyone benefits from good employment opportunities and regional investments.  The programme of investment deliver much-needed new industrial buildings in key locations in Mid and South Fife.


“This is another important step forward in delivering the ten-year programme that will encourage more businesses to locate and grow within Fife, and secure a further £30 million of investment by the private sector.”


Cllr Altany Craik, Convener of the Council’s Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning and Transportation Committee added: “This project, now on its way to becoming a reality, will be the first visible sign in Kirkcaldy of the positive changes that the City Region Deal will bring to Fife.


“The Deal focuses on growing the regional economy through collaboration and by being outward-looking, building on the region’s existing strengths in key sectors and industries.  Our Fife Industrial Innovation Investment programme will increase the supply of serviced employment land and new industrial, office and business space in Fife.”


Chancellor extends support for businesses

The Chancellor, Riski Sunak, is today (Friday 3 April) taking further action to support firms affected by the coronavirus crisis by bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses and announcing a new scheme for larger companies.


More than £90 million of loans to nearly 1,000 small and medium sized firms have been approved under the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) since its launch last week.  And a government-backed scheme to provide financing to larger companies, being operated by the Bank of England, has also already provided almost £1.9 billion of support for firms and further £1.6 billion has been committed.


To maximise the support available, the Chancellor is extending the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will be eligible for loans.


The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals.  The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.


A new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBIS) will be launched later this month to provide loans for larger firms.


The new Scheme will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.  Further details of this new scheme will be announced in April.


Click to read the full announcement.


An SME? Click for more information on how to apply for a loan for from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund Update

Grant support is available to help businesses deal with the impact of COVID-19.


In Fife the one-off grants – designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovered – are being administered by Fife Council on behalf of the Scottish Government.


The Council is currently processing the applications it has received and will start paying the £10k and £25k grants on 7 April.


Currently only 30% of applications received have been fully completed.  To ensure that applications are processed as quickly as possible, the council is advising businesses to ensure that their grant claim is properly completed and provides all relevant business details and required documents.


To help you complete your application,  the council has put together some useful FAQs


Two types of grant are available to ratepayers under the Coronavirus Business Support Scheme:


  • £10,000 grants – ratepaying businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme of Rural Relief with a property with a rateable value of up to £18,000 are eligible to apply for this grant. You can also get this grant if you applied for Nursery Relief or Disabled Relief, Fresh Start Relief and Business Growth Accelerator but are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme.


  • £25,000 grants – for retail, hospitality and leisure ratepaying businesses with property which has a rateable value of between £18,001 and £50,999 .


For more information on all the support available for Fife businesses, along with guidance and advice visit:

£24 million district heating network opened

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, has officially opened Glenrothes’ new district heating network.


Supported by a £8.5 million  investment from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, the £24 million collaborative project between Fife Council and RWE has been delivered on time and on budget.


Paul Wheelhouse MSP (centre) and Cllr Vettraino (left) hear from Ian Clavert at RWE how the energy centre works

The new network, constructed in central Glenrothes, provides low carbon heating to the council’s Fife House complex, Rothes Halls and the sheltered housing complex at Jubilee Grove by using steam from the RWE biomass CHP plant at Markinch.


Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said, “I am delighted to officially open the Glenrothes Energy Network today.  This ambitious project, which has received £8.6 million support from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, is already providing reliable low carbon heat to a number of buildings and has potential for expansion in the future.


“I would like to congratulate both Fife Council and RWE on the way in which they have worked in partnership and their success in constructing the new energy centre and network within the town centre which will make a valuable contribution towards reducing carbon emissions and meeting our renewable heat targets.”


Steve Glover, Director of Hard Coal and Gas Power Plant UK, RWE Generation said: “RWE is proud to be part of this innovative partnership; the Energy Centre is one of the quickest built projects of its kind in the UK and represents a significant investment in our Fife operation.  This scheme offers the opportunity to provide affordable heat and lower carbon emissions and RWE are delighted to be part of its success.”


Cllr Ross Vettraino, Fife Council’s spokesperson for the environment said: “Fife continues leading the way in tackling climate change.  Bringing this district heating scheme to Glenrothes helps Fife Council reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.  The scheme demonstrates how to tackle the Government’s long-term climate change targets at a local level and helps build confidence in modern, low carbon heat technology.”


Along with the three partners, several organisations have provided invaluable support delivering Glenrothes Energy Network:


Cllr Vettraino concluded: “This project is an exemplar of partnership working and what it can achieve. Thanks go to everyone involved in bringing this stage of the network to successful completion.”


The official opening marks the completion of the core network construction. Work is currently underway looking at connecting local businesses.  The network is ready for the future with the potential to connect more domestic customers when additional funding is sourced.


For more information on the project please go to






Toolkit launched to help employers create mentally healthy workplaces



According to the Mental Health Foundation, around 17.5% of the working age population have symptoms of a common mental health problem.


This means that in Fife, mental health issues are affecting over 40,000 16-24 year olds at any one time. The cost of this to businesses is significant, with estimates putting costs at around £1,300 per employee per year.


A toolkit has just been launched to help employers create mentally healthy workplaces – the best way to reduce sickness absence due to mental health issues.


The ‘just:ASK LISTEN TALK’ toolkit suggests steps you can take to improve how you and your staff view mental health at work.


It also gives you guidance on how to open up channels of communication with staff who are off sick due to poor mental health and how to support them back to work.


Click to download your copy of the toolkit or to order a printed version email


Developed by Fife Council’s Supported Employment Service, the toolkit is part of the 2019-20 Workforce Wellbeing Action Plan for Fife launched on 20 March by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills.


Meet the Buyer at Scotland’s largest public sector supplier event

Companies can now register for Scotland’s largest public sector ‘Meet the Buyer’ event taking place on 6 June at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.


Over 40 public sector bodies from across Scotland and the UK will meet in Edinburgh this summer for Meet the Buyer 2018 which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as the largest free procurement event in Scotland. Hosted by the Supplier Development Programme,  the event is organised in association with Scottish Government and Scotland Excel.


26 Scottish Local Authorities, the NHS, DfID and Crown Commercial Services are among  the  organisations confirmed to exhibit the event, which will see over 1,000 Scottish companies descend on Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh for a day of networking and procurement training.


Buyers from Scottish Government, Scotland Excel, Transport Scotland and over 15 private sector buyers with sub-contract opportunities will be in attendance, giving suppliers the opportunity to speak to directly to buyers about their procurement processes and contract opportunities. The event is aimed at SMEs (small to medium sized businesses) and third sector organisations who are interested in supplying to the public sector.


Gillian Cameron of the Supplier Development Programme said, “This event, now recognised as the largest public spend event hosted in Scotland, affording businesses, particularly SMEs a truly unique opportunity to network, connect and hear the latest news on how they can grow their business through public sector tendering and the wider supply chain – all under one roof”.


In addition to networking opportunities the event will feature presentations and seminars from NHS National Services, APUC, Scotland Excel and Google Digital Garage, as well as practical workshops on how to write a successful tender.


Ainslie McLaughlin, Director of Procurement and Commercial at the Scottish Government said, The Scottish Government recognises that SMEs are critical to the economic health of the country and we want them to thrive.   SDP’s Meet the Buyer event provides SMEs with the potential opportunity to meet procurement experts both from their local area and nationally to gather valuable information on future procurement opportunities of interest to your business.”


Julie Welsh, Director of Scotland Excel, said: We are delighted to be partners in this Meet the Buyer event. It’s a fantastic chance for Scottish companies to speak directly to over 40 public sector organisations, including Scotland Excel, to find out about business opportunities and the tender process.”


Register for the event at