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Updates for businesses – January

A round up of the latest opportunities and information for businesses in the National Park.

Cycle In the Park Welcome Scheme

Our colleagues at the Countryside Trust have created a new free to register ‘Cycle in the Park Welcome’ scheme to help your business find out more about how to benefit from this growing visitor market. Those who registered will receive a free Business Toolkit booklet, web-listing on the Countryside Trust website and will feature in promotional campaigns.  As well as the Business Toolkit booklet the first 30 businesses to register will also receive this “start-up pack” worth £200. We would encourage any business interested in supporting sustainable and active travel in the National Park to register and to gain from showcasing that you are open and welcoming to cyclists.

Pre-season workshops for West Highland Way Businesses

The West Highland Way (WHW) team will be running some free pre-season workshops for WHW businesses at the end of February / early March, both online and in person.  Topics will include advice on how to make your business greener and information on a new recruitment and retention pilot programme, along with updates on the trail itself.  There will also be the chance for Q&A and networking with others.  Timings and venues are being confirmed and will be added to our Eventbrite page shortly so please check this out to register.  Sign up if you want to receive e-newsletters from the WHW team, or find out more about listing your business on the official WHW website or becoming a Passport Point.

Greener Business Opportunities

Energy Savings Trust – Business Charge-point Funding – To support the uptake of electric vehicles across Scotland, Transport Scotland has made grant funding available through Energy Saving Trust to help organisations install electric vehicle charging infrastructure on their premises. Funding is currently available for charge-points for sole use by occupants, staff and visitors. You can access this funding if your business is a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and grants are available to cover up to 50% of the cost of purchasing and installing electric vehicle charge-points. Grant funding is also available to third-sector organisations – of up to 75% of the cost of purchasing and installing electric vehicle charge-points.

Solar PV fast track assessment –  Solar PV installations provide businesses to generate their own electricity and enjoy reduced energy costs, minimised energy supply risks and lower carbon emissions. SMEs can request a free and impartial assessment from a Business Energy Scotland advisor. The assessment report can be used to apply for an interest-free loan from the Scottish Government to help you fund PV installation.  If you are also interested in battery storage or other energy saving and renewable technologies, you should request a comprehensive energy efficiency assessment from Business Energy Scotland instead.

Tourism and Hospitality Legislation Updates

Short Term Lets – New legislation for Short-Term Lets (STLs) came into effect in 2022 to introduce a licensing scheme administered by local authorities with powers to introduce planning control areas. In December 2022, the Scottish Government said it was proposing a six-month extension for existing hosts only. Anyone operating a STL before 1 October 2022 must apply for a licence by 1 April 2023. Those who want to set up and operate a short-term let for the first time need a licence before they take any bookings or accept any guests. VisitScotland’s dedicated page provides information on the STL licensing requirements including a list of FAQs– and more importantly answers – to make it a little easier for you.

Deposit Return Scheme – The UK’s first Deposit Return Scheme will go live across Scotland on 16 August 2023, with the aim of recycle billions of bottles and cans every year.  The scheme will operate with customers paying a 20p deposit when they buy a drink that comes in a single-use container made of PET plastic, steel and aluminium, or glass. They will get their money back when they return the empty container to one of the established return points. Circularity Scotland’s website provides further detail on how to prepare for the introduction of the new scheme and what this means for your business.

Visitor Levy – The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) have set out the key considerations towards the proposed introduction of a Local Visitor Levy in their Manifesto paper. This has been developed to help inform national and local government about the issues that the tourism industry believe must be taken into account should the Scottish Government decide to proceed with local visitor levy legislation to ensure that Scotland remains as a competitive a visitor destination, how this policy is deployed at a local level to deliver the best possible outcome for tourism.

Recruitment & Skills Development

Flexible Workforce Development Fund –  The FWDF is now open to all employers including SMEs to access up to £15,000 worth of support for businesses to upskill and reskill employees.  It provides funding to UK Apprenticeship levy-payers and non-levy paying SMEs in Scotland. You can use the fund to access flexible workforce development training opportunities. This will help you address priority skills gaps and training needs.

There are different routes to access the funding, depending on type of training you need. Employers can access the FWDF once per academic year and have the option of using their local college, the Open University in Scotland or a private learning provider administered through Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

Apprenticeship development in Customer Service, Hospitality, Travel and Retail – SDS are commencing work to redesign Modern Apprenticeships in customer service, hospitality, travel and retail. The new employer-led approach to apprenticeship development allows employers to take ownership of the design and construction of apprenticeships to ensure they are relevant, adaptable and create the skills they need. Employers, employees and those who have an interest in apprenticeships development can check out further information.

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