From 1 July 2023, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will stop attending automatic fire alarm (AFA) call outs to commercial business and workplace premises, such as factories, offices, shops and leisure facilities – unless a fire has been confirmed.

Dutyholders with responsibility for workplace premises should safely investigate a fire alarm before calling 999, as our control room operators will now be asking for confirmation of an actual fire, or signs of fire, before sending the nearest resource.

Signs of fire include: visual flame, smell of smoke, smell of burning, or any other fire alarm signal – other than a single smoke detector.

This change does not apply to sleeping premises, such as hospitals, care homes, hotels or domestic dwellings who will continue to get an emergency response.

More information on how to prepare your business for these changes and your responsibilities as a dutyholder can be found online here.

Circularity Scotland has today (21st February 2023) announced £22 million of cashflow support measures to help Scotland’s brewers, distillers, importers and drinks manufacturers prepare for the introduction of Scotland’s deposit return scheme.

The package includes:

  • Up front charges removed for lower sales volumes
  • Improved payment terms for lower sales volumes
  • Simple labelling option for niche products, alleviating administrative burden
  • The support package is particularly designed to help SMEs, who have previously voiced concerns about the impact of the scheme on their business’ cashflow.

To address these concerns, Circularity Scotland is removing the day one and month one charges for all producers, up to a threshold of three million units per year. It is also providing two month credit terms on deposits and fees up to the same volume threshold to reduce the working capital impact on all producers.

The three million unit threshold has been established to ensure that the thousands of smaller scale producers selling in Scotland benefit more proportionately from the cashflow support. This will particularly help companies like craft brewers, wine importers and craft spirit producers. The two month credit terms will be made available to all producers, regardless of their size, ensuring all producers within the scheme are treated equally.

Circularity Scotland has also confirmed that it will be offering the option to use self-adhesive barcode labels for producers placing less than 25,000 units per year of a specific product on to the Scottish market. This will provide a simple and straightforward administrative solution for independent producers and importers for whom the cost of changing packaging to introduce new barcodes could be prohibitive.

David Harris, Chief Executive of Circularity Scotland said: “Circularity Scotland was established by industry to meet their obligations under the deposit return scheme as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. This announcement is further evidence of how we are continuing to innovate and identify additional ways to mitigate the pressure on businesses. We know that smaller producers in particular have been concerned about the cashflow impacts of the scheme, and these measures will address those concerns.

Circularity Scotland has successfully secured over £100m of third-party funding to establish the infrastructure of the deposit return scheme, with only minimal up-front funding from the very largest producers. This funding approach allows producers both large and small to benefit on equal terms from this investment in world-class infrastructure and leading-edge technology and only pay their share of the costs once the scheme is in operation.

We have already announced reductions in producer fees of up to 40%, while also being able to offer the highest return handling fees of comparable schemes anywhere in the world. These additional support measures further demonstrate our confidence in being able to deliver ongoing operational efficiencies once the scheme has gone live. We are committed to ensuring that the deposit return scheme works for Scotland, is cost effective for business and helps protect our environment for generations to come.”

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: “This is a big and welcome change that responds directly to many of the concerns that have been raised, particularly those from smaller producers like craft brewers. It addresses initial cash flow challenges, and provides a pragmatic and simple solution to the issues raised around barcodes for smaller product lines. This is a package that gives businesses the clarity and confidence they need to be part of Scotland’s deposit return scheme.

“Over the last few months I have been meeting industry regularly to listen to their feedback and this industry-led solution has been designed in direct response to its concerns. I remain committed to a pragmatic approach to implementation between now and the 16 August. By working together we can lead the UK in delivering a deposit return scheme which will increase Scotland’s recycling rates from around 50% to 90%, cut emissions, tackle littering and address public concerns about the impact of plastic and other waste.”

Businesses looking for more information on these measures or how they can register for the scheme should contact Circularity Scotland’s customer support team at or on 0141 401 0899.



There are three elements to the cashflow support:

  1. Providing two months credit terms on deposits, producers fee and retained EAN/barcode fees for all producers.
  2. Removing the ‘Day One’ charge for those producers who choose not to introduce Scotland specific barcodes.
  3. Removing the ‘Month One’ charge on deposits and producer fees for all types of products.

The three elements of support are provided up to a threshold of 3,000,000 single use drinks containers (known as scheme articles) put on the Scottish market per year.

This level has been established to ensure that the thousands of smaller scale producers selling in Scotland benefit more proportionately from the cashflow support.

The credit terms will be made available to all producers, regardless of their size to ensure that Circularity Scotland maintains its principle that all producers are treated equally.

Circularity Scotland was established by industry to meet their obligations under the deposit return scheme as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Circularity Scotland is a private company is completely self-funding and has secured over £100m of third-party funding to establish the infrastructure of the deposit return scheme, with only minimal up-front funding from the very largest producers.

Please visit Circularity Scotland Website for more info:

Dunnet Bay Distillers has been granted Planning Permission to refurbish the 200-year-old Mill and surrounding land at Castletown, near the distillery’s headquarters.

The Caithness-based company which owns the multi-award-winning Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka brands, acquired the historic Mill in 2021. The restoration and fit-out of the refurbished building could cost up to £4million.

The plans involve a full refurbishment of the dilapidated, listed Mill building, with a view to creating further resources for the rapidly expanding business including a visitor centre and a whisky distillery.

Dunnet Bay Distillers products sell globally, enjoying strong sales throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK as well as being distributed in 24 countries across the world.

The eco-friendly spirits company was established in 2014 by husband-and-wife team, Claire Murray and Martin Murray.

Claire Murray, co-founder and co-director of Dunnet Bay Distillers, said: “We are delighted that we now have planning permission to convert the old Mill and thank Highland Council for its decision.  We have been working hard with our plans and are looking forward to sharing them in the coming months.  The warehouse building has already commenced work and we hope to open a temporary café and small visitor area soon.”

Earlier this year, the company was granted permission to develop a temporary visitor centre, café, and shop near the site of the Old Mill.

Martin Murray, co-founder and co-director of Dunnet Bay Distillers, added: “We’re excited at the prospect of regenerating this fine old building which has lain empty for many years.   The Mill will become a Caithness landmark once again and its development will transform our already successful business.”

The company earlier this year asked anyone with connections to the Mill to get in touch to tell their personal stories about the building.  The company intends to embed the story of its history into the fabric of the building as they create a new destination on the north coast of Scotland. “We aim to make it into a local destination distillery and so the history is something we wish to remember,” said Martin Murray.

Andrea Wise, Director of Organic Architects, said: “This is a rare opportunity for a thriving local business to regenerate this landmark building which has been unable to find a user for decades. The distillery will be powered by green electricity, making it one of the most sustainable distilleries in the UK industry.” The designs will be contemporary whilst respecting the fabric and style of the old building.

The company has not yet announced when work will commence.



Image link: (expires in 7 days’ time)

Jo Jacobius

Dunnet Bay Distillers Press Office

c/o Axiom Communications

+44 (0)7850338998

+44 (0)208 347 8206

Support in Mind Scotland is delighted to be working in partnership with Mental Health UK and Neptune Energy to deliver the ‘Rural Connections’ Project. The project aims to improve mental health and wellbeing throughout rural Scotland by providing fully funded introductory mental health awareness training to rural organisations and businesses with less than 50 members of staff. In addition, the project aims to support businesses to implement and strengthen workplace wellbeing policies/activity.

The project is funded until March 2024.

Introductory Mental Health Awareness Training

Four- hour (2×2 hour Zoom sessions) ‘An Insight into Mental Health’ courses can be delivered directly to your staff team or individuals can join an ‘Open Course’. ‘Open’ courses will be compromised of participants from a range of organisations and are a good way to access the training if you only have a few members of staff. The awareness sessions cover of the following topics:

  • What is mental health and mental illness
  • An introduction to some common mental health conditions
  • The benefits of managing stress
  • A four-step process to building safe and supportive conversations
  • How to look after you own mental health and wellbeing

Workplace Wellbeing

There has been an increasing interest in improving workplace wellbeing over the last few years, particularly in light of the Covid pandemic and the impact that it has had on our mental health. There is a strong economic reason for prioritising your employees wellbeing with over 70 million working days lost in 2019/20 due to Stress, Anxiety and Depression. According to Deloitte in 2017, if an employer invests in their employees wellbeing they could see a return on investment of up to 9 times. However, there is also a strong case for supporting the mental health of your employees as a caring and responsible employer – investing in the mental wellbeing of your staff team is beneficial for everyone.

It is often the case that employers would like to embed wellbeing within the workplace but may not have the time/resource or simply not know where to start. There are plenty of resources listed below that can help you create a wellbeing policy that include information about supporting colleagues that are off work, challenging stigma, and the ‘Mental Health at Work Commitment’. However, even taking on a few simple actions can be highly beneficial and focusing on what you ‘can do’ within your time, budget and resources is worthwhile.

Taking a first step to promoting and supporting workplace wellbeing does not have to be time-consuming or involve a cost, for example:

  • If you are a rural employer with less than 50 members of staff, then enquire about the funded mental health training above. The training can help to develop everyone’s awareness about mental health, start conversations and challenge stigma
  • Embedding mental health in your work culture – can you add wellbeing ideas to the staff meeting, a monthly ‘wellbeing café’ or even a staff survey to explore staff suggestions for improving workplace wellbeing
  • Lunch time walking or reading group
  • Staff support/supervision sessions – include a question such as ‘Where are you today mood-wise on a 1-10 scale?’ This can provide an opportunity for staff to think about and share how they are feeling
  • Tie in to local and national organisations who can provide information, support and guidance e.g., Breathing Space and Samaritans free phone helpline and web services (newsletters, payslips, intranet, staff rooms)
  • Allow a weekly ‘wellbeing window’. One working hour per week to take time for an employee’s self-care (relaxing, yoga, reading, sitting quietly with a coffee…)
  • Meeting times – schedule 50-minute meetings instead of one hour and 25 minute meetings instead of 30 minutes – this has been trialed in a national organisation that reported its benefits!

For more information about how your organisation could benefit from the funded opportunity, please click here. If you’d like to arrange a session, reach out to us and we can help you to do that. You can email us at

The UK will invest £1.4 billion to bolster our national interests in space, as part of the first Defence Space Strategy published today.

  • UK’s first Defence Space Strategy published today to address growing threats
  • £1.4 billion invested in cutting-edge technology to protect UK interests in space
  • UK will strengthen partnerships with key allies and NATO to build stability and resilience

Following publication of the National Space Strategy in September last year, the Defence Space Strategy (DSS) outlines how Defence will protect the UK’s national interests in space in an era of ever-growing threats, stimulating growth across the sector and supporting highly skilled jobs across the UK.

As part of the new £1.4 billion investment, over the next ten years £968 million will be committed to deliver a multi-satellite system to support greater global surveillance and intelligence for military operations – known as the ISTARI Programme. A further £61 million will explore cutting-edge laser communications technology to deliver data from space to Earth at a speed equivalent to superfast broadband.

This substantial investment in space defence is on top of the existing £5 billion already upgrading the UK’s Skynet satellite communications capability – providing strategic communication services to the UK Armed Forces and allies.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

It’s crucial we continue to push the frontiers of our defence space ambitions, enhancing our military resilience and strengthening our nation’s security.

This significant investment will help to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of space innovation and one step ahead of our competitors.

Through close international collaboration with our allies and NATO, the DSS outlines how the UK will protect our space interests, build stability, increase resilience and prevent conflicts from extending into space. In addition to projects funded by £1.4 billion, a series of supporting programmes funded through existing investment will launch as part of the DSS to provide cutting-edge technologies for intelligence, surveillance, situational awareness, and Command and Control. These include:


An additional £127 million invested over the next four years will develop a network of satellites designed to integrate space with land, air, sea and cyber. An operational concept demonstrator, the new programme “MINERVA”, will present the UK’s ability to autonomously collect, process and disseminate data from UK and allied space assets to support frontline military decision-making. Work has already commenced on the programme and MINERVA will present a developed and tested system in due course, which will be brought together under the established UK Space Command and underpin the £968 million ISTARI Programme.


Designed and assembled by In-Space Missions Ltd in Alton, two tiny satellites (30cm x 20cm x 10cm), comparable to the size of a shoebox, will provide a test platform for monitoring through GPS, radio signals and sophisticated imaging, paving the way for a more collaborative and connected space communication system with our combat allies.

These satellites will support MOD’s science and technology activities both in orbit and on the ground through the development of ground systems focussed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory site near Portsmouth.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said:

With this strategy, the Ministry of Defence will protect and promote the United Kingdom’s interests in space, and take a leading role in the coalition of like-minded nations and organisations who have come together to ensure space is there for the benefit of all.

In a separate development, Oxford Space Systems has today announced an investment round of £4 million which, subject to final completion, will accelerate the build of their innovative Wrapped Rib Antenna. Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and backed by UK venture capital investors and the National Security Strategic Investment Fund, the project will create up to 50 new jobs. The technology will enable high resolution imaging from small satellite earth observation missions, irrespective of weather conditions or daylight.

The UK has been operating in space continuously since 1988 and boasts a world-leading sovereign satellite communications capability. UK Space Command, established in July 2021, will lead our Defence space approach, harnessing the energy and adaptability of the country’s space sector, while driving integration, innovation and conducting day-to-day space operations, all under a single command.

The DSS reinforces objectives outlined in the 2021 Integrated Review: to build resilience, shape the international order of the future; sustain strategic advantage through science and technology; and strengthen security and defence at home and overseas.

Scottish Government are working on their new long-term Road Safety focus, which is on speed.

The campaign was launched on TV and Radio on 25th February and you can view the TV advertisement here.

Government are keen to engage with businesses across Scotland to amplify the campaign message to reach the audience of 22-25 year olds in Scotland who use private vehicles to get to their place of work, and also those who drive vehicles as part of their job.

The campaign assets, which can be found on the Speed Hub, can be used by businesses to engage employees to raise awareness around the dangers of speeding, with the ultimate goal of changing behaviour and a reduction in serious collisions on Scotland’s roads.

Why do Scottish Government want to partner with businesses?

Driving is the most dangerous work activity that most people do, and it contributes to far more work-related accidental deaths and serious injuries than all other work activities.

How can you help?

The Speed Hub on has a host of useful information, resources and ready to use assets that can be utilised by businesses to amplify the campaign message on internal and external channels.

  • Digital assets for the intranet to engage employees and on external social media channels to show support for the campaign
  • Static assets (posters) that can be printed in-house and placed in staff areas

To find out more about this campaign, visit

Tens of thousands of small businesses will receive insurance payouts covering losses from the first national lockdown, following a court ruling.

The Supreme Court found largely in favour of small firms receiving payments from business interruption insurance policies.

For some businesses it could provide a lifeline, allowing them to trade beyond the coronavirus crisis.

The ruling could cost the insurance sector hundreds of millions of pounds.

The City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), brought the test case, with eight insurers agreeing to take part in proceedings.

One of the insurers set to make significant payouts is Hiscox, which was challenged by thousands of its policyholders as part of the case.

Richard Leedham, who represented the Hiscox Action Group – on behalf of small businesses, said: “This is a landmark victory for a small group of businesses who took on a huge insurance player and have been fully vindicated.

“What is important now is that Hiscox accepts the Supreme Court’s verdict and starts paying out to its policy holders, many of whom are in danger of going under”.

Other insurers involved in the test case are Arch, Argenta, MS Amlin, QBE and RSA – but as many as 60 insurers sold similar products. They will now pay out on many, but not all, policies.

Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: “All valid claims will be settled as soon as possible and in many cases the process of settling claims has begun.

“We recognise this has been a particularly difficult time for many small businesses and naturally regret the Covid-19 restrictions have led to disputes with some customers.”

What is this case about?

In the lockdown of last spring, many small businesses made claims through business interruption insurance policies for loss of earnings when they had to close.

But many insurers refused to pay, arguing only the most specialist policies had cover for such unprecedented restrictions.

It was agreed that a selection of policy wordings should be tested in court, setting the parameters for what would be considered a valid claim.

The ruling provides guidance for a wider pool of 700 policies, potentially affecting 370,000 small businesses.

Giving the court’s ruling, Lord Hamblen said the court accepted the arguments from representatives of policyholders and dismissed appeals from insurers against an earlier judgement finding in policyholders’ favour.

The complex ruling covered issues such as disease clauses, whether business were denied access to the properties, and the timing of lost earnings.

Staff outside The Drawing Room – one of the businesses affected – in happier times

James Ollerenshaw’s hair salon was one of those businesses unable to operate during the first national lockdown.

The business – The Drawing Room in London’s Spitalfields – paid an annual premium of £1,200 for business interruption insurance, and disease cover came as part of it.

Mr Ollerenshaw said the Supreme Court’s decision would not directly affect his policy, but would decide the principles on claims such as his – and were vital for the business.

“A payout would cover the major costs, which is the rent. We have debt sitting there,” he said.

He said he was delighted with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“The insurance industry needs to face up to the fact that it failed customers at their greatest moment of need, destroying companies, livelihoods and jobs,” he said.

He formed a Covid Claims Group, joining other small business owners in calling for a quick resolution and payouts.

“Time matters,” he said, pointing out that some small businesses have been forced to close down while waiting for the decision.

Sheldon Mills, from the FCA, which brought the case on behalf of policyholders, said: “Coronavirus is causing substantial loss and distress to businesses and many are under immense financial strain to stay afloat. Today’s judgment decisively removes many of the roadblocks to claims by policyholders.

“We will be working with insurers to ensure that they now move quickly to pay claims that the judgment says should be paid, making interim payments wherever possible.”

The test case was fast-tracked to the highest court in England and Wales – the Supreme Court, which heard four days of legal representations in November. The final ruling provides authoritative guidance for these policies, and potentially of similar ones not part of the case.

The FCA, the insurance sector, and the Financial Ombudsman will all use the judgement to guide their decisions in other cases.

The Financial Ombudsman Service and courts in Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to use the judgment to rule on other, similar cases.

Insurance policies would have been amended for new and renewing customers since this issue emerged, so losses from the latest lockdown measures in different parts of the UK would be clearly stated as part of the cover – or not – in new business interruption insurance policies.

Source: BBC News, story in full here.

Criminals are sending out phishing emails, purportedly from well-known delivery companies, which claim that they have been unable to deliver parcels, packages or large letters. These emails may ask the recipient to pay a fee or provide additional details in order to rearrange the delivery. The recipient are typically tricked into clicking on links to seemingly genuine websites requesting
personal and financial information such as their address, date of birth, mobile number or bank details, which are then used to commit fraud. In some cases, victims later receive a call from the criminal pretending to be from their bank’s fraud team, trying to persuade them to move their money to a safe account or reveal their pass codes.

You should also be aware of an increased risk of scam phone calls and texts impersonating delivery companies, as well as fake delivery notices posted through letterboxes. Similarly, these will ask for advance payment or for the recipient to provide information that is later used to defraud them.

  • Remember that criminals will send out phishing emails with links leading to fake websites used to steal personal and financial information. These emails may appear to be from trusted organisations and may use official branding to convince you they’re genuine. Always access websites by typing them into the web browser and avoid clicking on links in emails.
  • Remain vigilant and check delivery notifications very carefully to ensure they are genuine. Emails, texts or cards through your letterbox may look very similar to those that are genuine but may use generic greetings, such as Dear Sir/Madam, or include spelling errors.
  • Always question claims that you are due goods or services that you haven’t ordered or are unaware of, especially if you have to pay any fees upfront. Consider whether you’re expecting
    a delivery from the company named on the card.
  • If you receive a delivery card through your letterbox which you do not believe is genuine and which asks you to dial a premium rate number, contact the company direct, using a number
    you know to be genuine.

You can get more information by following the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. You can report suspected scam texts to your mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726,
and forward any suspicious emails to, the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) suspicious email reporting service. If you have been a victim of crime, and it is not an ongoing emergency, you can report this to Police Scotland on 101. For all emergency calls, dial 999.

The UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new, fully subsidised job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

Employers of any size will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions. Employers will also receive £1500 towards training, equipment and set up costs.

Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.

All job placements under the Kickstart Scheme must be new roles and must not replace existing or planned vacancies, or cause existing employees, apprentices or contractors to lose work or reduce their working hours.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce is acting as a “gateway organisation” to assist those interested in taking part of the scheme but looking to create less than 30 new roles.

If you are interested in taking part in the scheme, download the employers guide and then simply click here to register your interest and request an application form.