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.

The latest guidance on managing your business safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Winter Economy Plan

Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to COVID-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce.

Under the scheme, which will open on 1 November and run for six months, help will be given to keep employees attached to the workforce. 

Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work - but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.

This means employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid two thirds of the hours for those hours they can’t work.

In order to support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

The Job Support Scheme will be open to businesses across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme, with further guidance being published in due course.

It is designed to sit alongside the Jobs Retention Bonus and could be worth over 60% of average wages of workers who have been furloughed – and are kept on until the start of February 2021. Businesses can benefit from both schemes in order to help protect jobs.

On Friday 9 October the Chancellor announced an expansion to the Job Support Scheme to support businesses across the UK required to close their premises due to coronavirus restrictions. The Government will pay two thirds of employees’ salaries to protect jobs over the coming months with additional cash grants for businesses required to close in local lockdowns also increased to up to £3,000 per month.

Under the expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work - protecting jobs and enabling businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted.

The Government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

The scheme will launch on t November and be available for six months. Details for applying to the scheme are awaited from Government and will be provided here when available.

Read further information on GOV.UK

Self Employment Income Support Scheme

In addition, the Government is continuing its support for millions of self-employed individuals by extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April - ensuring our support continues right through to next year.

Tax cuts and deferrals

Tourism and hospitality

The temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors has been extended to the end of March 2021.

VAT deferrals

Up to half a million business who deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

'Time to Pay'

Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the 'Time to Pay' self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

Flexibility to pay back Bounce Back Loans

Businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be offered more flexibility in their repayments through a new Pay as You Grow system.

This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.

There is also an extension to the application period until the end of November.

Kickstart scheme

A new £2 billion Kickstart scheme aimed at creating thousands of new jobs for young people.

As part of the Plan for Jobs, employers can offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit a six-month work placement.

The government will fully fund each 'Kickstart' job - paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the government will also pay employers £1500 to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart placement, as well as helping pay for uniforms and other set up costs. The jobs will give young people – who are more likely to have been furloughed, with many working in sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic - the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.

Applications are being accepted now from employers or groups of employers – check the guidance for employers.

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

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.

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

Mayor’s Resilience Fund

This fund will connect businesses, social enterprises and community groups with innovators and funding to help them adapt to the new reality brought on by the pandemic and improve their resilience for the future.

Apply now and receive up to £30,000 in funding support.

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: 14 October 2020