COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Support for Businesses and Employers
We’re here to support you through COVID-19
Here at London Business Hub, we understand the impact that COVID-19 can have on all aspects of your business.
To help you through, we’ve launched a series of free, dedicated webinars delivered by expert speakers that have been carefully designed to answer your questions and to help guide London’s small businesses through the many challenges presented by COVID-19. We have also brought together a range of resources and information to help you through these difficult times and to help you find the right support. This includes access to funding, including our own grant funds for businesses, as well as support to help you reopen your business safely.
We know these are challenging times. We don’t want this to be any more difficult than it already is for you or for your business.
COVID-19 Grants for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
Due to the large volume of applications we received for the COVID-19 Recovery Grants, we have paused accepting new applications at this stage. This will allow us to make an initial assessment of remaining funding.
Should further funding be available, we will provide a week’s notice of the grant reopening dates via our website, newsletter and our social media channels.
Recent and important Government announcements
Chancellor increases financial support for businesses and workers (22 October 2020)
The Chancellor has announced the following additional support for businesses and workers affected by COVID-19 restrictions:
Business grants in high-alert level areas
- Cash grants of up to £2,100 per month will be made available primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sectors that may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas. These grants will be available retrospectively for areas that have already been subject to restrictions.
Job Support Scheme (JSS)
- The Job Support Scheme will come into effect on 1 November to protect viable jobs in businesses that are facing lower demand due to COVID-19. Originally, employers would have been required to pay a third of their employees’ wages for hours not worked. However, the Chancellor has reduced the employer contribution for unworked hours to 5%. The minimum number of hours an employee is required to work to qualify for the scheme has also been reduced from 33% to 20% of an employee’s normal working hours, so that those working just one day a week will be eligible.
- The Job Support Scheme Closed will support businesses that are legally required to close. Under the scheme, the Government will pay two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions.
- The Chancellor has increased the amount of profits covered by the two forthcoming self-employed grants from 20% to 40%, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750.
London has moved to high alert level from Saturday 17 October 2020
London’s COVID-19 alert level has moved from medium to high. Businesses and individuals in London will be required to comply with additional COVID-19 restrictions. This means that in addition to the requirements under the ‘medium’ tier restrictions that apply nationally, in London:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting.
- People must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible.
Find out more about the high alert level.
UK Hospitality have published a useful guidance note to help hospitality businesses interpret the restrictions in place at each tier: https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/FAQs
London Business Hub has brought together previous Government announcements on COVID-19 restrictions. Find out more.
London Business Hub webinars
London Business Hub is running numerous webinars to support businesses during COVID-19.
London Business Hub has launched the COVID-19 Business Help Series, bringing you highly informative, free webinars delivered by expert speakers. The webinars have been carefully designed to guide London’s small businesses through various problem areas as they navigate the challenges of COVID-19.
Hot topic: Health and wellbeing
As a result of stressful and uncertain times that coronavirus has presented, the need to consider the mental wellbeing of you and your employees has never been more important.
Our guide includes information on businesses support and the latest guidance to help you manage this, by signposting the best resources to help you manage this important issue during the crisis.
Drawing upon resources from the NHS, Mind and other recognised bodies and organisations, our guide will help you navigate the support that is available as well as detailing preventative techniques that individuals use to manage their mental health.
Match-funding from the Mayor of London through 'Pay It Forward London'
We are offering free fundraising to help businesses to secure trade by pre-selling vouchers, goods and services. Find out more.
Back to Business Fund
The Mayor’s £1m Back to Business Fund will offer up to £5,000 in match funding to small and independent businesses through the Pay It Forward London crowdfunding platform. Find out more at https://payitforward.london.gov.uk/fund.
London Business Hub has published a series of guides to support businesses across London to reopen and work safely during COVID-19:
- The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy
- Working safely and managing social distancing
- Reopening a retail business safely
- Guidance on the use of face coverings
- NHS Test and Trace – Advice for employers
- Case study on reopening a retail business
Coronavirus restrictions (22 September)
On 22 September, the Prime Minister announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus in England. The measures include:
- Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail are required to wear face coverings from 24 September.
- All hospitality venues must operate with table service only, excluding takeaways.
- Hospitality businesses selling food or drink must be closed between 10pm and 5am from 24 September. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm.
- Face coverings and visors must be worn in close contact services.
- Office workers who can work effectively from home should do so.
- Businesses and organisations face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure from 28 September.
- Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings since 23 September.
- Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will no longer go ahead.
Travel guidance for employers
To support businesses with employees returning to work, the Department for Transport has developed resources for employers, which you can find here.
Wherever possible, businesses should encourage and allow employees to work from home. If your employees must travel to work, please encourage them to walk or cycle when they can. Transport for London (TfL) has issued guidance around how businesses can support staff to walk or cycle, rather than utilising public transport. If it is essential for them to use public transport, it is mandatory that they wear a face covering for the entirety of their journey.
Mandatory face coverings in shops
The Government has announced that face coverings are mandatory when shopping. This is to protect those who work in shops and to give people more confidence to shop safely. Shops can refuse entry to someone not wearing a face covering and can call the police if someone fails to comply. You can make face-coverings at home. The key thing is it should cover the mouth and nose. Retail workers have been required to wear face coverings since 24 September.
Guidance on face coverings at work
The UK Government has published guidance on the use of face coverings. It outlines the settings in which face coverings are required and how they can be used safely. Retail and hospitality staff have been required to wear face coverings since 24 September.
Due to the wide variety of work environments, there is no universal guidance on the use of face coverings in the workplace. Employers should follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines to manage and reduce contact between employees.
Businesses will have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace
Since 18 September, it is mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days.
NHS COVID-19 app
The NHS COVID-19 app launched in England on Thursday 24 September.
The app allows customers and visitors to check-in on entry with their phone instead of filling out a check-in book or tool specific to a business. This will allow NHS Test and Trace to contact customers with public health advice should there be a COVID-19 outbreak.
Businesses across England that are required to collect Test and Trace data (like pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas) are being urged to ensure they have NHS QR code posters visible on entry so customers who have downloaded the new NHS COVID-19 app can use their smartphones to easily check-in.
In England, using QR codes will help businesses meet the new legal requirement to record the contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises.
The government is supporting businesses and venues to display the QR codes, which can be downloaded via a website to display as posters in premises.
London Business Hub COVID-19 guides
Guides brought to you by London Business Hub to help your business respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and furloughing employees
- Mental health and wellbeing resource pack – support for individuals and businesses
- Lease obligations and lease reviews
- How to engage in discussions with your landlord
- Rent reviews
- How to negotiate a rent holiday
Managing your business during COVID-19:
- Working safely during COVID-19
- Transport for London briefing for retail businesses
- Managing existing commercial contracts
- Business and continuity planning
- Directors, insolvency and personal liability
Funding for businesses
- Frequently asked questions about financial support
- Government support for business
- Applying for COVID-19 small business grant schemes in London
Funding for the self-employed
Reopening the hospitality sector
On 22 September, the Prime Minister announced new coronavirus restrictions that will impact the hospitality sector. Restrictions include:
- Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail have been required to wear face coverings since 24 September.
- All hospitality venues must operate with table service only, excluding takeaways.
- Hospitality businesses selling food or drink must be closed between 10pm and 5am since 24 September. This includes takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm.
The following resources provide advice and information to help the hospitality sector navigate the COVID-19 outbreak and reopen safely:
Keeping staff and customers safe
- Reopening and adapting your food business during COVID-19
The Food Standards Agency has published guidance on hygiene and food safety requirements for food businesses to reopen and operate safely during COVID-19.
- Guidance on maintaining records to support NHS Test and Trace
Businesses and organisations in certain sectors should collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors to premises to support NHS Test and Trace.
- NEXSTART The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020
Guidance on the latest coronavirus regulations.
- Legionnaires’ disease: lockdown risks and reopening safely
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has published guidance to help businesses reopen safely and manage the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.
- Preventing Legionnaires’ disease
The Association of London Environmental Health Managers has published information to help businesses manage their water supplies as they reopen to prevent Legionnaires’ diseases.
- NHS Test and Trace
This guide provides advice for businesses about the NHS Test and Trace service.
- Keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services
The UK Government has published the following guidance for the hospitality sector.
- Night Time Economy – A place manager’s guide to night time economy recovering during COVID-19
Night Time Economy has published a guide for place managers on recovery planning for the night time.
Advice and guidance
- NEXSTART Business and Planning Bill – Alcohol Licensing
Temporary change to alcohol licensing law to allow off sales.
- NEXSTART Group Size, Gatherings and COVID-19 Safe Capacity
This guide provides information on group sizes and gatherings (indoors and outdoors).
- Safer Sounds – COVID-19 safety measures and licensing best practice checklist
Checklist for reopening hospitality businesses safely during COVID-19.
- NEXSTART Business and Planning Bill 2019-21 Pavement Licences
Guidance on the new pavement licence.
- NEXSTART Toilets Guidance
Use of toilets in premises providing takeaways.
- NEXSTART Conditions Compliance Guidance
Guidance on complying with licence conditions.
- NEXSTART Closure Powers
Scope of closure powers for enforcement officers.
- Transport for London briefing for leisure and hospitality businesses
Latest travel advice for businesses engaged in leisure and hospitality.
- NEXSTART Business and Planning Bill – Pavement Licences
Guidance on the pavement licensing regime.
- NEXSTART Pavement Licence Webinar
Webinar on the pavement licensing regime.
- UKHospitality FAQs
Answers to frequently asked questions to help hospitality venues understand the latest restrictions.
Shared Workspace Support Programme
London Business Hub has launched the Shared Workspace Support Programme that will provide free online support to workspaces providers and their tenants on:
- Access Business Rate Relief and other relief schemes.
- Have guidance on how to handle future rent negotiations with your landlord(s).
- Have help on how to handle talks with your local authority.
- Support your tenant with grant applications.
- Network with other workspace providers.
Through webinars and 1:1 advice sessions, this is a fantastic opportunity for workspace providers and tenants to access professional advice and support, to help them through these challenging times. There will also be the opportunity for virtual networking and potentially making contact with local authorities, to discuss the current situation and how they can work together, to simplify the process of applying for business rate relief.
Further advice and support
The following London Business Hub pages provide advice and information to help businesses and the self-employed navigate the coronavirus pandemic:
- Government support for business
- Discretionary local business grants
- Government support for the self-employed
- Financial support from banks and lenders
- External resources, support and webinars
- Guidance about commercial insurance
- Early years sector business support
- Cybersecurity and working safely
- Sector-specific support
- Because I’m a Londoner campaign
- News and updates
News and Updates (COVID-19)
Round-up of the latest news and support for businesses during COVID-19.
Because I’m a Londoner
Citywide campaign to kickstart London's economy.