Coronavirus - COVID-19

Advice and support for local business

Government advice on working safely during the pandemic

The government has produced both general and sector-specific advice on working safely during coronavirus.

Financial support for local business

The government has provided 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
  • business support grant funds
  • 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

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

Business Support Grants

We have created a new system to deliver the Business Support Grants which enables us to meet the stringent validation checks required by government. The form has been live since 30 March and businesses can make an application online.

Please be assured that valid applications are being approved as soon as possible and that, once approved, the funds are transferred into the business bank account within 48 hours. For grant applications where there are no queries, we aim to process the application within two weeks. If your case is more complicated or we need more information, unfortunately your application will take longer to process.

Tips for completing the application form

Please note: Your business needs to have been registered for business rates as of 11 March 2020 and you will need to quote your business rates reference number and business banking details when completing the form.

Grant application form

Discretionary Business Grants

Following a number of pieces of further guidance from the government, that we received up to May 27, proposals for a discretionary business grant fund, aimed at those small businesses, voluntary organisations and charities with premises, will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of our Executive on Friday 5 June. Read the reports and papers for that meeting. Subject to Executive approval, we are looking to launch the scheme in the week commencing Monday 8 June.

Coronavirus 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.

Support for the self-employed

The government has announced a package of measures as support for the self-employed. It has also produced a list of frequently asked questions about the new scheme.

It is now open for claims but HMRC which administers the scheme asks those applying to stagger their applications between May 13 and May 18. You can find out which date applies to you by checking online.

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.

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.

Getting support

Contact us if you need support

Please use the online form above in the first instance. If you need to contact us in an emergency, please call 0300 300 8900.

Sign up for emails to let you know when the information on this page is updated

Sign up