Advice and guidance to help businesses through COVID-19
We recognise that these are exceptionally difficult times for businesses and will work with our partners to provide you with information, advice and guidance.
What does the government’s recovery plan mean for my business?
You can read the government's recovery plan.
The government has asked that businesses make every effort to enable employees to work from home. If work can only be done in the workplace, then the government encourages businesses to enable employees to return to work where it is safe to do so.
Most businesses that were previously asked to close, particularly those in non-essential retail and hospitality, should remain closed. Find out which businesses have been asked to close.
Businesses are required to take all practical steps to create safe places for their employees to work.
You are required to undertake a risk assessment to inform your approach. Find out how to produce a COVID-19 risk assessment.
The government has published Covid-19 secure guidelines setting out how different workplaces can be adapted to operate safely.
These guidelines are based around the following principles:
- Maintain social distancing
- Introduce measures to manage transmission where needed, for example through shift patterns or staggered working hours, or erecting physical barriers.
- Increase cleaning regimes
What financial assistance is available to help businesses at this time?
The government has announced a set of measures to support businesses during COVID-19. Comprehensive information on the package of support available from the government’s online business support hub.
Rate relief is available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and some childcare settings. Find out more about rate relief
Government grants are also available for small businesses in receipt of small business rate relief, and for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
Two business interruption loan schemes are available to provide lending facilities for business across the UK that are experiencing lost or deferred revenues leading to disruptions to cash flow.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme is targeted at small and medium sized businesses with access to finance products of up to £5m.
The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme is for businesses with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m.
The Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan scheme is designed to help small and medium sized businesses affected by coronavirus to apply for loans of between £2k and £50k. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
Under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) the Bank of England will purchase debt from companies that make a material contribution to the UK economy.
The government have agreed to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 to help businesses manage their cash flow. More about VAT payments
If you are concerned that you might miss another tax payment because of the impact of COVID-19, you should contact the HMRC
The government has launched the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to safeguard jobs through COVID-19, enabling employers to furlough staff in the knowledge that HMRC will reimburse 80% of employee wages of those who are no longer working but are still on the pay roll, up to £2500 a month. You can now apply for the scheme.
The government will also support SMEs with the cost of paying Statutory Sick Pay for employees affected by COVID-19 through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, which is due to be launched soon.
Where can I get advice about managing employees through COVID-19?
There are many employment issues arising out of the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
- Staff welfare
- Working from home and social distancing
- Furloughing staff
- Managing absence due to sickness
- Managing absence for staff that need time off to look after dependents
The government have published advice on a number of these issues.
Wherever possible, employees should be allowed and enabled to work from home.
The government’s advice is that employers should make socially responsible decisions about managing employees that cannot work from home. Employees should be able to raise concerns, and employers should take a pragmatic approach towards working arrangements. Read the government advice Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do
ACAS have produced a helpful guide for employers and employees: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus. They also have live twitter coronavirus Q&A sessions weekly.
What support is available to help me manage my property and associated bills?
The National Business Crime Centre has published advice on how to keep your business premises safe during COVID-19. Read more about business premises safety
The Financial Conduct Authority has published guidance on how they expect mortgage lenders to behave during COVID-19 and provide advice on how you can apply for a mortgage holiday. Find out more about mortgage guidance.
On 23 March, the government announced that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 would be protected by new legislation. Read the news release.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureaux have published advice for small businesses struggling to pay their energy bills.
Where can I get support to access the help available?
The government has set up a helpline for businesses wanting advice or information about government backed financial schemes. Call 0300 456 3565, Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm.
The local Business Improvement Districts are working hard to advocate for the businesses that they represent and to provide support to the business community. Their websites provide helpful information and local contact details:
The London Growth Hub is a portal to support businesses in London to manage and mitigate their exposure to the impact of coronavirus.
The Federation of Small Businesses has set up a hub providing advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed affected by COVID-19.
The South East London Chamber of Commerce is regularly updating their advice to businesses on their website.
I am self-employed or freelancing. What support is available for me?
The government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month. The scheme is called the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. You can check your eligibility for the scheme. In order to access the scheme, you will need to make a claim for a payment. You can do this online after 13 May 2020.
You can also defer income tax self-assessment payments due in July 2020 until 31 January 2021. This deferment is optional. Find out more about deferral of Self-Assessment payment.
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed has advice for freelancers and the self-employed during the pandemic. Read the advice
What additional support is available for charities?
In addition to the business support packages which are also available to the charitable sector, the Chancellor has announced an additional £750m funding for frontline charities. Read the press release here.
Charitable and community organisations can apply for funding from the London Community Response Fund to help meet the needs of the community through COVID-19. More information about the fund.