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COVID-19: Guidance for Businesses

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UPDATED - 2 June 2020

COVID-19 Response: Support to Business



Key/Latest Updates from Government


The UK Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy 

UK Government guidance on businesses and premises to close 

Updated guidance on business closures on 13 May 

Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme now open

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme now open 

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) maximum loan size increased 

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme extended until October

COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme  

Find Coronavirus Financial Support for your Business 

VisitBritain/VisitEngland Business Advice Hub

Northumberland Business Hub 





Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme now open

Northumberland County Council is pleased to announce that it has received a new £4.6m grant fund from Government, which will support small businesses in the county which have been impacted by Covid-19.

This new Northumberland grant fund is aimed at small businesses which have not been eligible previously for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund, and applications open today online.

Under the guidance issued by Government the council will invite applications for this Covid-19 Discretionary Grant Fund from small enterprises including:   

B&Bs or guest houses with three bed spaces and above and which pay council tax instead of business rates;

Businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, which do not have their own business rates assessment;

Small charities which receive charitable rates relief which would have otherwise been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief; and

Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment.

Applicants must also be a small or micro business, have relatively high ongoing, fixed property-related costs, and be able to demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Applications open today, and will close at midnight on Sunday 14 June

Payments will be made as soon as possible. 

Full guidance on the grant fund eligibility and the criteria which applicants must meet can be found on the council’s website at 


 The UK Government's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday, the Government published a recovery roadmap on Monday 11 May. The document outlines a re-opening timetable with July 4 being the earliest date for the hospitality sector, including accommodations and attractions, to start opening their premises to customers.

The tourism sector reopening forms the third stage of a tentative timetable to ease the country out of lockdown, following earlier stages which include starting to return children to schools, the re-opening of retail and some relaxing of rules around exercise. The ambition of the third step is to open some of the remaining businesses and premises that were required to close, including food service providers, pubs, accommodation providers, public places and leisure facilities such as cinemas. However, this is dependent on whether the appropriate social distancing guidelines can be adhered to and the Government’s five tests

1. Protecting the NHS

2. A falling death rate

3. R less than one

4. Testing and PPE in place

5. No risk of a second peak being met. 


Government guidance on business closures and reopening

The Government published updated guidance on business closure on 13 May, in addition to the previous Government guidance on businesses and premises to close.


Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) maximum loan size increased

The Government has extended the maximum loan size available through CLBILS from £50 million to £200 million. The change is to help larger firms who do not qualify for the Bank of England’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The expanded loans will be available from 26 May. Companies that receive help through CLBILS and the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Fund will be asked to agree to not pay dividends and to exercise restraint on senior pay.

The full rules of the scheme and guidance on how to apply is available on the British Business Bank website


Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme now open for claims

The Government has produced further guidance for businesses on how to use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme which has just opened. This guidance includes information on how to calculate periods that you are able to reclaim, the information needed to make a claim and the records that businesses need to keep.

Repayments will be at the relevant rate of SSP that has been paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers. Guidance on making a claim is available on Gov.UK.



COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until October. Until the end of July there will be no changes; however, from August to October there will be more flexibility to enable people to return to work part-time. More specific details around the changes will be made available by the end of May.

NEW: From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back part time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work. 

From August 2020, the level of the grant will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work:

In June and July, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions for the hours the employee doesn’t work. Employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work.

In August, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work - 5% of average gross employment costs of those currently furloughed.

In September, the Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. 

In October, the Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

The cap will be proportional to the hours not worked. To enable the introduction of flexible furloughing, and support those already furloughed back to work, claims from July onwards will be restricted to employers currently using the scheme and previously furloughed employees. The number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim under the current CJRS.

The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with the last three-week furloughs before that point commencing on 10 June for new entrants. 

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked. Employers will need to agree any flexible furlough arrangements with employees, and when claiming the CJRS grant will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. 

Further details are available in this factsheet 

Read the announcement


The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) open for applications 

The scheme will allow those who are self-employed to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended. Check if you are eligible to claim.

To make a claim you will need:

• Self-Assessment UTR (unique taxpayer reference)

• National Insurance number

• Government Gateway user ID and password

• Bank account number and sort code that you want the Government to pay the grant into (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted)

When claiming, you will have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

NEW: The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, with eligible individuals able to claim a second and final grant in August. The eligibility criteria remains the same as for the first grant and individuals will need to confirm that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. 

The grant will be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. This is in line with changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (see below) as the economy reopens.

The first SEISS grant, which opened for applications on 13 May, will close to new applications on 13 July. Eligible individuals will be able to make their claim for the first grant any time until this date, and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account within six working days of completing a claim.

Further guidance on the second grant will be published later this month.


New Bounce Back Loans scheme for small businesses announced

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new Bounce Back Loans scheme that will be made available to small businesses from 9am Monday 4 May. These loans will be 100% government-backed. Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form.


Find Coronavirus Financial Support for your Business

A new support finder tool has been launched to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to determine what financial support is available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tool on GOV.UK asks business owners and the self-employed to fill out a simple online questionnaire. Users are then directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.


Coronavirus Business Support Blog

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has created a Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help businesses get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. The blog contains additional information and resources, including case studies from businesses who have or will be accessing Government support, and posts from different people across overnment and business.


Extended Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 

The Government has extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. 

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.

 Please find further details here: 



Local Updates


Northumberland Business Hub


Northumberland Business Hub


Northumberland County Council and Government are working together to support businesses through this challenging time.

The council has established a Business Hub with a specialist team who will work hard to support businesses and employers during and after the current Coronavirus outbreak.

The Government has recently announced business support measures to provide financial assistance to small businesses.

Government is providing funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 (increased from the £3,000 announced in the 11 March Budget) to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Government is also providing £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000.

Please complete the online form here if you think you may be eligible.

If you are having difficulty completing the form please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Enquiries relating to business support measures in Northumberland should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


North East Growth Hub COVID-19 Toolkit

Providing local businesses with the latest advice, guidance and support available from the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics covered include:

• Financial support available for businesses

• Official guidance for employees, employers and businesses

• Advice on effective home working

• How to care for staff/suppliers/customers and prevent the spread of COVID-19


Please read on for important information relating to COVID-19, and the guidance to employers and businesses across Northumberland.


Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidance on insurance

The FCA has set up the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) - an independent body to provide arbitration for insurance claims of smaller businesses (with turnover of less than £6.5 million and fewer than 50 employees). The decision of the FOS is binding on insurers up to £350,000. 

To take your complaint directly to the FOS, please contact: 

The Financial Ombudsman Service
Exchange Tower
E14 9SR
Telephone: 0300 123 9123
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Guidance to employers and businesses about COVID-19 

The UK Government has produced guidance for employers about the signs and symptoms and how to treat staff presenting with symptoms. As well as information on the support available. Click here to find out more


Business Rate Measures

Government has announced the intention to increase the Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for the 2020 to 2021 tax year for properties below £51,000 rateable value.

Government will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Businesses that are eligible for the increased retail discount will receive a new bill from the Council as soon as possible. As this relief will mean that eligible businesses have no business rates to pay in 2020/21 the direct debit payments previously notified for 2020/21 will not be collected.


Other measures from UK Government

Time to Pay - A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress caused by COVID-19 and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax affairs. Through this businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement Tel: 0800 0159 559

Support for UK exporters - Other support for export, supply and UK Export Finance impacted by COVID-19 can be found by clicking here  

Request for UK Industry support The UK Government has issued a call to action to companies who have the capabilities to repurpose their staff and facilities to making ventilators to assist in treating patients affected COVID-19. If your business is able to support this request - please either call 0300 456 3565 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Further background to the request can be found by clicking here 




This page and the external links contained in the page may change regularly so please keep checking our communication channels for further updates along with the Government, Public Health England & NHS websites.

VisitEngland Business Advice

Nland Business Hub

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