INTEREST-FREE business interruption loans are being offered by East Lothian Investments (ELI) Ltd in a bid to help keep East Lothian employers afloat during the current coronavirus crisis.

Loan ‘holidays’ are also available on request for companies with an existing ELI Ltd loan.

Councillor John McMillan, East Lothian Council Provost and member of the Board of Directors of ELI, said: “I am sure financial support of any kind to businesses will be welcome at this time of great uncertainty, so I’m delighted that ELI can offer this.

"It is a worrying time for businesses of all sizes so it’s important that they get as much support as possible to weather the crisis and come out and flourish at the other side.

"I would encourage any eligible East Lothian businesses to take advantage of this as soon as possible.

“East Lothian Council and ELI has a great record of local business support, including our highly successful East Lothian Giftcard Scheme and Business Gateway service.

"During this time, I would encourage businesses and individuals to keep an eye on the dedicated webpage which will be regularly updated and contains advice on East Lothian Council services affected by Covid-19, plus useful links to other organisations, including other sources of business and individual financial support.”

ELI is a not-for-profit organisation which sits at arm’s length to East Lothian Council. The fund is managed by employees of the council but governed by a board of directors. The board comprises two East Lothian councillors and three private sector business people who provide their time free of charge to the company. It is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Loans are available up to £5,000, interest free with a holiday repayment period of four months. There is a five per cent arrangement fee to be paid up front and the loan will have a term of 24 months after the holiday period has ended. It is open to existing businesses only that have been trading for more than two years and have employees.

Decisions on loans will be made within seven days and with funds can be paid within 24 hours.

All applications and paperwork will be done via email and arrangement fee and loan award will be paid by bank transfer.