Advice and support for local business
What to do if your business has an outbreak of COVID-19
We have produced a guidance flowchart (PDF) 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. Please visit our Health and Wellbeing Board for advice on supporting your staff’s health.
Workplace public health survey
The public health team across Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Bedford Borough has launched a survey to find out the impact coronavirus is having on your health and wellbeing and to understand how we can support you during this time.
The survey is for anyone in work to complete.
It takes about 5 minutes and your answers will remain anonymous. Closing date is Sunday 6 September.
Re-opening your business
We have produced a list of frequently asked questions about re-opening your business following the relaxation of the lockdown regulations as of Saturday 4 July. Among the topics covered are health and safety advice, selling alcohol in beer gardens or car parks and parking.
Business Recovery Grants
Small and medium sized businesses will soon have access to grants of between £1,000 - £5,000 to help them access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track. The scheme will be administered in our area by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership. Guidance on how to apply will be available shortly.
Discretionary Business Grants - deadline expired
This scheme ended at midday, Monday 29 June.
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 Rates Relief
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
The government has announced that these schemes are to close. So we need new applications to be with us by 5pm on Monday 24 August. We will also be unable to make payments after Friday 28 August so it is vital that any information we have requested from you to support your application is with us before Friday 28 August.
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.
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.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Chancellor has announced some changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It allows all UK employers 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 an extension to the Self-Employment Support Scheme.
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.
Please use the online form above in the first instance. If you need to contact us in an emergency, please call 0300 300 8900.