Building rural business resilience in challenging times

  • Insight

08 July 2020

We are experiencing exceptional times, and rural businesses need to react swiftly while proactively developing business resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic. SL&E’s recent survey found that ‘over 90% of rural business owners in Scotland are confident they can reopen their business while safely adhering to social distancing measures’.

This is testament to the pragmatic approach taken by many land-based businesses, to their adaptability and to the diversity and opportunities available in the sector. To help you effectively navigate the easing of lockdown and beyond, we’ve rounded up some key updates to help you with building resilience for your rural business; through financial support, and property to flexible Furlough – we’re here to help you now, in planning for the future and eventually returning to business as usual.

That’s why we’ve created our Business Hub. Available on our website, it includes insights, updates, podcasts and practical information to help your business remain as robust as it can be in these most difficult of times. Below are summaries of the most relevant insights on our Business Hub for land-based businesses.

Government financial support for business during Covid-19

Ensuring that as many rural businesses as possible are kept afloat during the wave of change caused by the pandemic will be paramount to enabling the rural sector to emerge from this economic storm. We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the financial support measures that the UK and Scottish Governments have put into place recently, including what the measures entail, eligibility criteria, and how to apply. Access the article here.

Practical protection for directors

Rural business company directors have been forced to make swift business decisions to ensure the wellbeing of a wide range of stakeholders. With such rapid change in an unprecedentedly short timescale, it’s vitally important for directors to understand – and mitigate – the personal risks involved. Our corporate law expert, Euan Tripp, summarises what you should keep in mind through lockdown and beyond in this useful insight.

Our Business Resilience Checklist

Our Business Resilience Lead, Neil Amner, considered which elements of business life may need attention during the pandemic, and produced a Business Resilience Checklist to help you discern your priorities - it may illuminate areas you haven’t yet considered. Your circumstances, challenges and requirements will be specific and reviewing them will be paramount to remaining robust.

Income tax relief restrictions 2020-21

Income tax relief for interest paid on borrowings of residential property landlords is now restricted to the basic rate of income tax (20%) with effect from the start of the 2020/21 tax year. Tax law expert, Martin Campbell, explains the impact of this restriction to income tax relief on buy-to-let properties and planning options for landlords to minimise the tax impact in these financially challenging times.

Private rented housing

The Scottish Government has temporarily changed the law relating to evictions from privately let residential property. There is aid for Landlords available under the Covid-19 loan scheme and our rural property expert, Adele Nicol, has summarised everything you need to know, and created a helpful Q&A, which you can download for reference.

The Job Retention Scheme

We’re all familiar with the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme, a brand new concept in employment law known as ‘Furlough leave’. There have been various updates to the Scheme since it launched, and to help you digest them, we’re updating our insight article as new information emerges. It explains the key factors and is essential when making workforce decisions.

We’re here to help

We are offering initial 20 minute pro-bono appointments during the pandemic, to enable you to ascertain whether or not you require further legal advice. If you have questions, please contact Anne Chapman, your usual Anderson Strathern contact, or visit our Business Hub to access all of the above information in full.

This article was first published in the Summer 2020 edition of Scottish Land & Estates' LandBusiness magazine.

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