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.

Business support measures

Measures to support businesses include:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention scheme
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • The HMRC Time To Pay scheme

Read full details about the support for businesses on GOV.UK. The guidance for employers and business on COVID-19 can also be found on GOV.UK. This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation.

Information for contracted suppliers

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.

Business Interruption Loan

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The scheme is being delivered by the British Business Bank and is now available through participating lenders. The scheme which aims to support the continued provision of finance to UK, will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap) to give them further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees so smaller business will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

Read more on how to access the scheme. View the full list of accredited lenders and partners.

Business Rates and cash grants

The Chancellor’s announcement included the following measures:

  • Giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
  • Increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000
  • Providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000
  • For nurseries in England that pay business rates, there will be a business rates holiday for the 2020/21 tax year. Read more about support for nursery businesses that pay business rates.

The Government has issued guidance on the expanded retail discount and further guidance and details of business grant arrangements is awaited. When we have this, grants to small businesses will be paid by the Council.

The Council is working hard to put in place the measures allowing this support to be available to local businesses as soon as we can. We will be updating the advice on our Business Rates pages as soon as we are able to. This year’s Business Rates bills were issued prior to the Chancellor’s announcements and the Council will be issuing further information on how these should be treated.

Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls to pay no business rates

Many high street businesses that have closed due to Covid-19 restrictions will now be exempt from business rates. Read more on GOV.UK.

Claiming Statutory Sick Pay and/or benefits if self-employed

Those who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, i.e. the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. For the duration of the outbreak, the Government has suspended the universal credit minimum income floor for those with COVID-19 or who are self-isolating, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support. Read more on GOV.UK.

Commercial tenants

Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments.

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 in the next 3 months. Read more on GOV.UK.

Corporate Financing Facility

Larger firms will be offered support through the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, where the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support companies affected by a short-term funding squeeze and enable finance for short-term liabilities.

Department for International Trade 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.

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.

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. Tenants who are eligible for the support are invited to contact The Arch Company.

Tax payment holidays/Support for businesses paying tax

VAT payments will be deferred for 3 months. This will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. For the self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the self-assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

HMRC has set up a dedicated phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to COVID-19. For help and advice call: 0800 0159 559, Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm.

Information regarding help with taxes.

Transport for London tenant rent relief

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

High street banks

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

These include:

  • Bank of Ireland - Measure for business customers include emergency working capital, payment flexibility on loan facilities, provision of trade finance and foreign currency products and prioritisation of loan decisions. Find out more
  • Barclays has a range of measures that can help customers impacted by COVID-19 as well as a dedicated helpline for UK Business Banking clients affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Contact via telephone: 0800 1971 086.
  • Halifax has a number of options to help customers whose income has been affected by the disruption from coronavirus. These include no fees for missed payments on credit cards, loans and mortgages, payment holidays on mortgages and loans, emergency access to savings in fixed term accounts, and increases to deposit limits for mobile banking. Read more.
  • HSBC UK has announced a package of support for customers as they tackle the financial impact of COVID-19. They have also provided advice on how business can respond to the situation. See details.
  • Lloyds Banking Group has announced how it will support UK small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Additional financial support and advice will be available to those affected. Read more on the support available.
  • NatWest has pledged £5 billion working capital support extension to its successful Growth Funding Package and is also offering ongoing support and practical advice for businesses. You can read more about what NatWest is doing.

Further advice on COVID-19 support

Further information 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.

Please note that we will update these pages with the latest information as soon as we are able to.

Updated: 1 April 2020