COVID-19: Support for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of measures to support public services, people and business through disruption caused by COVID-19.


Non-essential businesses, hairdressers, restaurants, cafes and pubs that are COVID-19 secure, and comfortable managing safety requirements are now able to reopen to the public. They must meet government criteria for keeping staff and customers as safe as possible.

View guidance on reopening your business safely.

Updated government guidance on businesses that must remain closed.

New pavement licence

The government has announced a business and planning bill to support hospitality businesses to operate safely whilst social distancing measures are still in place.

Businesses such as; restaurants, pubs, cafes, bars and ice cream parlours, can apply for a pavement licence which will permit them to place removable tables and chairs on highways adjacent to their premises to sell or serve food or drink. Licenses can be obtained within five working days as opposed to the current 28 days.

It is hoped that this temporary measure - which will be in place until the end of September 2021 - will provide hospitality businesses with much needed income over the summer months.

Licences are free of charge and will be granted by the council.

Read government guidance on the new pavement licence.

Apply for a licence.

How the Council is supporting businesses

It is a priority that we do everything to enable the business sector to bounce back following this period of immense uncertainty. The Council will continue to advocate with a strong voice for the needs of businesses in Richmond to ensure we get through this situation as a cohesive and enterprising community. For a full range of government support offers please head to the Government's business support website.

Business Interruption Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. The government is pushing for insurers to pay where cover against diseases is included. Read more on the ABI website.

Financial support and cashflow

New small business grant fund scheme

On 2 May, the Government announced the launch of a discretionary fund set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme, that have ongoing fixed property-related costs. The Council operated a two-week window for applications for this scheme which began on 4 June, with full details publicised on this website throughout. This scheme is now closed.

Bounce Back Loan

On 4 May, the Government launched a new scheme for those in need of smaller business loans. Businesses can apply for the new Bounce Back Loans between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. The Government will pay the interest for the first 12 months and support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan. Find out more and apply

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is available for SMEs through more than 40 accredited lenders across the UK. The scheme, which offers loans of up to £5 million, is being delivered by the British Business Bank and will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan. 

Large businesses with an annual turnover of over £45 per year can apply for up to £25 million of finance from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

Corporate Financing Facility

The Corporate Financing Facility helps large businesses affected by coronavirus through the purchase of their short-term debt by the Bank of England where the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

Paying your employees: Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will pay employers a grant worth 80% of an employee's usual wage costs, up to £2,500 a month. The Chancellor has announced that the scheme will remain open until the end of October.​​ Find out more and claim.

A new calculator has launched to help employers with their next CJRS claims. Employers can use the calculator to work out how much they have to pay their furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees, how much they can claim for employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions and how much they can claim back. Access the new job retention calculator.

Employers can now also download a template if they are claiming for 100 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (for claims on or after 1 July 2020).

Coronavirus sick pay scheme opens for applications

The scheme allows small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 members of staff, to apply to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay for two weeks - worth nearly £200 per employee. Find out more and apply.

Prince's Trust and NatWest Relief Fund

The £5m Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business. The initiative also offers one-to-one support and guidance. Register for grants and tailored support.

London Growth Hub Grants

The London Growth Hub has launched an ERDF grant scheme to help SMEs access specialist support. Small business owners in London will have access to grants of between £1,000 and £5,000. The purpose of this funding is to help them access professional, legal, financial or other advice and/or new technology and other equipment to help them get back on track to address their immediate needs in response to the impact of COVID-19.

The scheme will launch in early September. Find out more

Tax payment holidays

For the self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the self-assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.Businesses may also be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.

Rent relief for commercial tenants

The government has announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment between 23 March and 30 June 30 2020.

On Friday 19 June, the Government announced it will extend measures to prevent high street businesses facing eviction over summer.

Transport for London tenant rent relief

All small and medium businesses on TfL's estate, which make up 86% of tenants, are to get 100% rent relief. This will start from start from 25 March for the next three months. More information on TfL rent relief.

Network Rail tenants

Network Rail/The Arch Company has published details of the £10 million Hardship Fund that will be used to cover the cost of a three-month rent free period (March to May) for independent small businesses in the retail, hospitality, leisure and overseas travel sectors, as well as others severely affected by COVID-19. Read more.

For August and September, Network Rail tenants will have the option of drawing down deposit funds, if available, to cover half the rent. If no deposits are available then half the rent can be deferred instead.

The support will be assessed monthly and tenants will need to pay half the rent for August and September. Tenants who require further support to pay rent in August or September should contact The Arch Company.

Support for the self-employed

Read about how the self-employed can access help.

Support for businesses trading internationally

Advice for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus can be found on GOV.UK.

High street banks

A number of high street banks are providing support/making funds available to small businesses affected by COVID-19.

These include:

Additional guidance

Further information on COVID-19 support for your business can be found on the following websites:

If you have a query that isn’t covered by this guidance, please contact the Business Support Helpline.

Updated: 4 September 2020