Coronavirus support: Advice and guidance for businesses COVID-19 Support


Support and information for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

The current business environment is understandably a challenging one for our local businesses and their staff. We recognise and understand that coronavirus is likely to be causing concern and possible disruption to businesses of all sizes for the foreseeable future.

With measures being updated, we understand that a rapid response to change is required to ensure that we can continue to do businesses in a COVID-secure and safe way.

This page contains information and links to the latest government advice, support and information, as well as resources to help your businesses to adapt and thrive in the new normal.

Page updated: 24th July 2020

Government Business Support & Guidance 

Financial support is still available to UK businesses affected by the pandemic. Use the Government’s business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business. Schemes that are running include:

– Loans managed by British Business Bank
– Job Retention Scheme plus

And much more. Check what support is available on the Coronavirus business support page here.

British Business Bank managed finance options

The British Business Banks manages the:
– Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
– Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
– Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
– Future Fund

To find out if any of the schemes are suitable for your business and how to access them visit here.

Business Representative organisations and Trade Associations support
Government is working close with Business Representative organisations and Trade Associated to support the national response to coronavirus. Find the support for your sector here.

Trading internationally
If you deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus, you could benefit from the government’s support, including advice, export controls, import duty and temporary changes to customs. Find out more.

Eat Out to Help Out scheme
You can use the Eat Out to Help out Scheme to offer a discount to diners and encourage them to eat at your restaurant. Offer a 50% discount to customers and claim the money back from the government. Find out more.

Funding and grants through SEMLEP’s Growth Hub

Grants of up to £5,000 available to help SMEs recover from COVID-19

A new government support package has been launched to help small and medium sized businesses recover from the financial impact of COVID-19.

Small grants, up to a maximum of £5,000, will be available as part of the support package, although most grants will typically be in the range of between £1,000 and £3,000.

The Government have announced a £10million Kick-starting Tourism Package.

Part of this package will be the allocation of small grants, up to a maximum of £5,000, to businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Most grants will typically be in the range of between £1,000-£3,000.

Find out more about both these grant packages here and sign up to the newsletter below for further updates. 

SEMLEP’s Growth Hub Webinars

Over the past few months we have hosted a series of webinars initially looking at Government support options and understanding finance moving to recovery related and getting back to business support topics.

Based on business feedback, we created free webinars with business experts, local authority representative and business advisers to help you to adapt, understand government advice and become stronger.

You can view our programme of upcoming webinars here.

Catch up on previous topics, including working safely, smart ways to manage remote teams and adapting supply chains here.

Support for the self-employed

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.  Find out more here.

Self-assessment payments deferred until January 2021

If you’re self-employed, Income Tax Self-Assessment due on the 31st July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return. Find out more.

Changes to Universal Credit for self-employed people

The government has temporarily changed the way they work out Universal Credit for self-employed people on low incomes. It has suspended the Minimum Income Floor for Universal Credit, meaning self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

Call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 for more information or view the government’s webpage on self-employment and Universal Credit.

If you want to know how COVID-19 affects the Minimum Income Floor, you can read the latest information about COVID-19 and claiming benefits, including Universal Credit.


Tax relief support through HMRC’s Time To Pay service

Self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

IR35: Off-payroll working rules reforms postponed until 2021

Reforms to off-payroll working rules have been delayed by 12 months as part of the government’s Covid-19 economic response package. The rules will now come into effect on 6th April 2021 instead of 6th April 2020. More information can be found here.

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund

The £5million 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. In conjunction with cash grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future. More information about the programme can be found here.

Supporting employees

Mental Health and Wellbeing
It is Mental Health Month in May, with everything happening in the world we have produced a guide that offers businesses support and guidance, by signposting the best resources to help you manage this important issue during the crisis. This resource can be used by both employers and individuals and can be found here. 

Get up to date information and guidance on how to support colleagues from the ACAS information on coronavirus. ACAS are the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. An independent public body that receives funding from government, they work with employers and employees to provide free and impartial advice on:

    • employment rights
    • best practice and policies
    • resolving workplace conflict

What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone: Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result will be eligible for SSP, even if they are not themselves sick. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £118 per week, some of those working in the gig economy, or self-employed people, are able to claim Universal Credit and or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

For those on a low income and already claiming Universal Credit, it is designed to automatically adjust depending on people’s earnings or other income. However, if someone needs money urgently they can apply for an advance through the journal.

Certifying absence from work: By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, employers may use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is staying at home.

The government is strongly encouraging employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advice issued by the government.

ACAS have more information on coronavirus and can help with specific queries by phone.

This guidance, for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations, outlines the changes that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is making to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Futures: National Careers Service Support
Business support: Futures are working with both businesses in SEMLEP looking to manage, motivate and support their workforce and individuals affected by the current crisis to get back in to work and training.

If you are a business that could benefit from support with recruitment, redundancy and training plus much more, find out how to get in touch here. 

To talk to our business advisers about this support contact Futures for Business on 0345 850 8899.

Individual support: Have you lost your job, been made redundant or are worrying about reduced hours? Futures Careers Coaches are still offering the same level of support and will work with you to find and apply for work over the phone, by video chat or email – whichever works best for you. Their support is completely tailored to what you need. Find out what support you could get here. 

To arrange a time to talk to one of Futures careers coaches visit:, email [email protected] or call 0800 917 9419.

How businesses can help

Funding competition: Business-led innovation in response to global disruption (de minimis)
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to respond to new and urgent needs in UK and global communities during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. Competition closes 17th April 2020. Find out more. Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your business
See if your businesses can help the efforts in the response to coronavirus by using this tool on the Government website.  The support needed includes things like:

  • medical testing equipment
  • medical equipment design
  • protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • hotel rooms
  • transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • manufacturing equipment
  • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • social care or childcare

Limiting spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in business and workplaces
Businesses and employers can help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by reminding everyone of the public health advice. Posters, leaflets and other materials are available.

Employees and customers should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.

Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.

Other business support information

If you are confused about any of the above information or would benefit from speaking to a business adviser, please call us on: 0300 01234 35

Business Support Outside of Government

The Government is working closely with Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations to support the national response to coronavirus, including ensuring messages from Government are heard by all businesses and that business voices are heard by Government. View the list of organisations you can speak with to get advice. Many of these websites also include sector specific guidance and Q&A.

Accelerating Leadership & Productivity in High Ambition SMEs
Local universities have joined together to deliver Alphas, a programme to help SMEs to think about their businesses post COVID-19. The programme offers consultancy, people and grant funding. Find out more and register here.

Support for food and drink manufacturers 
If your food and drink manufacturing business has had to diversify as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, FEAST2 can help. The fully-funded programme offers a range of services to food and drink manufactures including grant funding and business mentoring. Find out more. 

Manufacturing Growth Programme
The Manufacturing Growth Programme is still working to support manufacturing businesses. They have many business improvement projects to choose and can support with grant funding. This can be done remotely. Find out more here.

Silverstone Technology Cluster webinar resource
The Silverstone Technology Cluster has been established as a not-for-profit organisation to support the growth of the high-tech cluster and attract investment to the region. They have a range of webinar content available to view on their YouTube Channel, including topics on engineering, technology and response videos to coronavirus. Watch here. 

Enterprise Nation and Salesforce small business grants
To support small businesses and give back to the community, Salesforce and Enterprise Nation have partnered to offer eligible small businesses the opportunity to receive a £5,000 grant to help them through the COVID-19 outbreak. Find out more. Applications open 1 June. *Eligibility applies

Training at Work: Online Courses

Ever wanted to learn a new skill or develop your knowledge? We’ve collated a list of online course available in the South East Midlands. These distance learning courses range from childcare to logistics, run by local colleges, universities and other training providers. See the list here.

Economic Recovery

In 2019, the South East Midlands was one of the fastest-growing areas in England, already contributing some £50 billion p.a. to UK economy. Whilst there is still great uncertainty around the economic impact of COVID19, our area is resilient. The historic and projected growth, our already dynamic and entrepreneurial economy, highly skilled people, and innovative businesses, all provide a solid foundation from which our area rebuilds. Our aim for economic recovery is that ultimately, our environment, health and wellbeing and the way we do business is improved as a result.

Click here, to read about the economic recovery strategy SEMLEP is developing with partners.

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