Coronavirus - COVID-19

Advice and support for local business

Financial support for local business

Please note: the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until Thursday, 30 September 2021.

Furlough claims must now be submitted within 14 calendar days after the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend in which case the deadline is the next weekday, and employers will need to remember to get their claims in on time.

This means the online application must be complete before one minute to midnight.

Business support grants

Applications are now closed for the latest round of our Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

The scheme was open to:

  • businesses who have not previously received an additional restrictions grant
  • taxi drivers licenced by us
  • businesses in the travel, tourism and events sector who previously received a Restart Grant
  • businesses that would have qualified for a Restart Grant, but didn’t apply during the application window (6 April 2021 to 30 June 2021)

Any business that has already been allocated funding under the ARG scheme, will not be eligible for any further funding at this time.

The application period was from 1 September 2021 to 28 September 2021. Now applications have closed, you will receive a decision about your application.

Wider business support

Cranfield University

We're working with Cranfield University to delivery five projects:

  • Business Growth Programme – to support managers/owners looking to take their business to the next stage
  • Essential Management – a four-day course designed to provide managers of small and medium sized (SME) businesses with the skills required to become commercially focussed, confident members of the senior team; the course covers strategy, finance, marketing communications, leadership and management
  • Financial Fundamentals – a one-day short course equips managers who have financial responsibilities with the key concepts and abilities required to manage finances at an SME level and covers the main aspects of finance management, such as financial decision-making, cash-flow, working capital, balance sheets, competitor accounts, marginal costing, elasticity of demand and pricing decision
  • Ready for Net Zero Growth – an online 18-week growth programme targeting green growth through awareness of the relationship between climate change and emissions, and an understanding of how their organisation contributes to global warming; it will also provide methods, tools, technologies, and techniques to measure current emissions, set future science-based targets to reduce those emissions, and track progress over time
  • Net Zero Top Up – for SMEs who have previously attended the Business Growth Programme; businesses who are on the Ready for Scale programme can receive an additional 6 weeks support in order to realise their net zero potential and take active steps to achieving it

Read more about all five programmes on Cranfield University’s website.

South-East Midlands Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP)

We are working with SEMLEP to deliver two projects:

  • 12-hour mentoring and business support – targeted support for businesses to continue trading, adapt and diversity as well as prioritising job creation activity towards sectors, population groups and places disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and an innovation and recovery grant of up to £20,000
  • intensive investment readiness support – a pilot programme to offer support to businesses who are looking to access finance and or raise investment

Read more about the two programmes on SEMLEP’s website.

Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce

We're working in partnership with the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce to support businesses trading or wanting to trade internationally. We'll do this by delivering a comprehensive package of global trade services – for example, helping businesses overcome barriers to trade and adopting a global mindset. To find out more, businesses can visit Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce's website, call 01582 522448 or email

University of Bedfordshire

We're working in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire to support the Central Bedfordshire Productivity Programme which aims to help local businesses. Benefits of the programme include new product and process ideas, routes to new funding and inward investment. To find out more, businesses can visit the University of Bedfordshire's website or email

Other advice and guidance

The government has advice and guidance on financial support for businesses and employers and a range of support measures to help the business community, including:

  • paying your employees
  • paying sick pay
  • paying tax
  • business rates relief
  • support for the self-employed
  • support for small and medium-sized businesses
  • support for large businesses

Use the business support finder tool to determine what financial support is available to your business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Business support finder

Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) extension

The government has extended this scheme until 30 September 2021 with a fourth and fifth grant (read more about the extension).

What to do if your business has an outbreak of COVID-19

We have produced guidance for management of COVID-19 in workplaces, which outlines the steps you should take as an employer, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your workplace / premises / establishment.

Government advice on working safely during the pandemic

The government has produced both general and sector-specific advice on working safely during coronavirus. There are also many free or cost effective resources to improve staff wellbeing. 

Business Rates Relief

The government has extended the business rates holiday (100% business rates relief) to all retail, leisure, hospitality and nursery businesses irrespective of rateable value.

Revised bills have now been issued to all eligible businesses. If you haven’t heard from us, please get in touch:

Telephone: 0300 300 8011

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The full details are available on the British Business Bank website.

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

More information is available from the Bank of England.

Paying our suppliers

We are committed to paying our suppliers to ensure service continuity both during and after the outbreak. We are trying to make outstanding payments as quickly as possible regardless of the payment terms in contracts. Our general approach will therefore be to pay approved invoices submitted by suppliers immediately on receipt wherever possible. 

Find out what you need to do, if you're one of our suppliers.

New scheme to get young people into work

You can use the government's Kickstart Scheme to create new six-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The job placements should support the participants to develop the skills and experience they need to find work after completing the scheme. You need to create a minimum of 30 roles, but can do so in partnership with other companies or organisations. 

Further business support

SEMLEP’s Growth Hub is a government-funded local business support service, providing information, advice and support to business directors. Its business advisers can help you to navigate the current COVID-19 financial support measures and official guidance, and help you to work through options if you are not eligible for the government schemes. It can support you directly on your business continuity planning and overall business resilience.

To contact the team, please email or call 0300 01234 35. Visit SEMLEP’s Growth Hub website for more information on the support available for business.

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