Businesses hit again as Fife moves into Tier 3

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

The Scottish Government has announced that Fife will move from Tier 2 to Tier 3 restrictions following its latest review.  The change will take effect from Friday and the new restrictions will remain in force for at least 2 to 4 weeks.

The main rules applying in Tier 3 are:

  • No non-essential travel into our out of Fife
  • Offices only open for essential work
  • Manufacturing and construction sites remain open
  • Essential travel for work and education is permitted
  • Shops remain open
  • Hairdressers, barbers etc. remain open but may be subject to additional protective measures
  • College and university attendance is restricted
  • Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls must close
  • Hospitality, indoor and outdoor, is subject to tighter restrictions, with no alcohol sale allowed and 1800 closing.

The decision comes a week after the Chancellor announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) will be extended to the end of March 2021 and  the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will also be extended until then.  

Main Furlough measures:

  • Eligible employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked
  • The Government contribution to salary will be capped at £2500 per month
  • Employers will not have to pay any contribution to salary for hours that an employee does not work
  • Employers will have to pay pension and employer national contributions, including for hours that the employee does not work
  • Furlough can be used for employees for any amounts of time and shift pattern
  • Neither the employer or the employee needs to have been furloughed previously
  • Employees who were made redundant after 23rd September can be re-employed and furloughed
  • Full guidance will be posted on the HMRC website soon
  • The scheme will be reviewed in January to decide whether employers will be asked to contribute more
  • The £1000 per employee Job Retention Bonus that employers would have received for every employee who had been furloughed but was still employed at the company on 31st January 2021 will be not be paid: the Chancellor is promising a retention incentive “at the right time”
  • The Job Support Scheme, which was due to replace Furlough, has also been postponed.

Main SEISS features:

  • Equivalent support to employees under furlough – the overall level of grant will be 80% of trading profits
  • It will be paid in a single instalment and capped at £7500
  • This covers the period from November 1st to January 31st
  • A further grant will be paid covering the period from February to April 2021
  • The online service for applying will be available from 30th November.

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s decision to move Fife into Tier 3, Alan Mitchell, Chief Executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a bitter pill to swallow, even with the extension of the UK Government’s two main business support schemes.  The concern is that it is the extension of these schemes rather than the scientific data on Covid spread in Fife that has driven the Scottish Government’s decision to place us in Tier 3.  Consistently we have seen business trading restricted without any evidence showing that their business activities are a major cause of transmission.    Where is the evidence that shows that people in Fife having a drink while they eat a meal in a restaurant or going to their local bingo hall is driving dangerous rises in the level of infections?

“I wholeheartedly share the views expressed yesterday by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce that an over cautious approach by the Scottish Government poses a real risk to Scotland: not just to the economy but to the, long-term health and wellbeing of the population arising from the employment, public finance and non-Covid physical and mental health fallout from the measures being adopted to tackle Covid.    

“There is no way forward that doesn’t involve health and economic harm to someone but the harms from Covid and the harms caused by the economic and social measures taken to control it must both be measured, considered and weighed up before taking far reaching decisions.  If that analysis has been undertaken and it clearly demonstrates that firm action to tackle Covid is the lesser of the two evils we face then we should see this evidence  and we can all get 100% behind it.  If that analysis hasn’t been undertaken, then our governments, here in Scotland and across the rest of the UK, are taking a big risk with our futures."