Coronavirus (COVID-19) ADVICE

Updates as they become available to support businesses and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Latest updates 

02 June 2020

More than £100 million awarded to Scottish businesses. Small B&Bs now covered by support scheme.

Businesses across the country have now been awarded more than £100 million through the Scottish Government Business Support Fund.

The scheme, announced by Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop at the end of April, has to date helped more than 2,500 businesses and 4,160 self-employed people.

Now the fund, which started with £100 million of grant support for individuals and companies affected by COVID-19 and has since been topped up to £185 million, is being expanded.

Small B&Bs, who were ineligible for other support due to not having a business bank account, will be able to apply for a share of £3 million of funding which has been re-purposed from the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund.

This funding for small B&Bs will be administered by local authorities and applications are expected to open on 15 June. We will update our website on how to apply when the information is available. 

Read the full news update here 

Updates from HIE's deputy Chief Executive, Carroll Buxton

21 May 2020

The Scottish Government has published its route map detailing how Scotland will move out of lockdown.

18 May 2020

Update on £100m funds for businesses impacted by COVID-19

17 April 2020

Businesses and communities around the Highlands and Islands are adapting and responding as best they can to the COVID-19 situation.

Several are involved in helping to tackle the crisis, see here for examples.

Some continue to provide key services, such as food and drink and energy production and delivery – sectors that rely on an extensive supply chain. And others remain closed or vastly scaled down to help restrict the spread of the virus.

All of this carries huge financial implications and challenges greater than any we’ve seen in many decades.

At HIE we are maintaining frontline services for our clients. Our staff are working effectively from home to provide valuable support for businesses and communities through this difficult and unprecedented time.

We are in constant contact with our partner agencies and Scottish Government to provide a consistent and collaborative response and contribute to the design and delivery of vital new initiatives, aimed at supporting businesses through this initial phase, and in the longer term.

On our COVID-19 web page we’ve published advice and links for further information on a range of support measures tailored for industry sectors. We’ll keep updating this as further opportunities are developed.

Of course, it’s not only commercial enterprises that need support. The third sector (social economy) and communities also need help.

Following the announcement of the Scottish Government £350 million investment package to support communities in responding to the Covid-19 emergency across Scotland, we are working very closely with the Scottish Government and a range of national partners to develop support for our region’s communities.

Looking ahead

While it’s crucial that we focus on tackling the immediate challenges of this international crisis, it is also important to keep one eye on the future.

The full impact of COVID-19 on businesses and communities in the Highlands and Islands is as yet unknown, but we do need to think about and plan for the recovery stage.

To that end, we and our partners are carrying out work to prioritise resources and gather industry intelligence that will help inform future policy and support mechanisms to maximise our effectiveness.

The global economy will be different as national and regional economies emerge from the lockdown. The age-old principles of research, collaboration and innovation will be key to competitiveness and a successful recovery.

The Highlands and Islands has a great track record in these principles. We are a hugely resourceful and resilient region and I am confident we will continue to play a key role in Scotland’s recovery in the years to come.

Carroll Buxton
HIE interim Chief Executive

Joint enterprise agencies statement on COVID-19

A message from HIE's interim Chief Executive, Carroll Buxton - 17 March 2020

Read more +

Financial support for business and communities during COVID-19

The UK and Scottish Government have put financial measures in place to help businesses, communities and the third sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There's a number of packages you can access now as well as a number in development that will be communicated as soon as possible. 

Find out what's available now

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now open for applications

Claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Apply on

Support for communities and third sector organisations

We know that communities and third sector organisations deliver vital services throughout our region. We're working on a daily basis with the Scottish Government to bring you the support and resources needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. £350m of community support has been announced with 4 main funds set up to disseminate cash directly where it's needed. Find out more on our communities and third sectors section. 

Support and funding for the third sector

Can you help with any of these critical asks for help?

Businesses are being called upon to help with critical supplies for the NHS and other care workers.

Can you help?

Could you help manufacture the COVID-19 test?

We've also had a request from Brunel University London to help find manufacturing partners to rapidly produce the test required for COVID-19 and there's a number of ways you could potentially help. 

Find out more 



Advice for employers and job opportunities

Skills Development Scotland has launched a new service for employers looking to fill jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.This is a free platform to share immediate job opportunities in Scotland. 

Visit the job hub

Read more +

Highlands and Islands based businesses working on the front line against COVID-19

Read about some of the Highlands and Islands based businesses already working on the front line to help battle the spread of the virus.

Find out who's involved and what they're doing 

Get in touch if we can help

If you’re a business or community in the Highlands and Islands region and have an operational concern or difficulty due to COVID-19, please get in touch.

Contact your account manager


Contact our enquiries team

You can also register for our newsletter and we'll keep you up to date with information and support. To sign up, please add your email address at the bottom of this page. 


Everyone has a role to play in preventing the spread

Everyone - businesses, social enterprises, communities and individuals - need to help minimise the spread of COVID-19. Make sure you're following the latest guidance issued. Have a look at the NHS inform pages for the latest public health information. 

Visit NHS inform