COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Support for Businesses and Employers

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.

Hot Topic: Living with COVID 

Guidance for business

The UK Health Security Agency has set out new public health principles for workplaces for businesses, organisations and employers in England to consider in managing the risk to their workforce from respiratory infections such as COVID-19. 

The new guidance sets out actions that businesses should follow to help reduce the spread of infections, including ensuring adequate ventilation and encouraging vaccinations. Whilst there is no longer an expectation that every employer will consider COVID-19 explicitly in their risk assessment, employers should continue to comply with their legal obligations to their staff. Further information is on GOV.UK.

Hot Topic: Managing COVID in the Workplace

‘Long COVID’ is an informal term that is commonly used to describe signs and symptoms that continue or develop after an infection of COVID. There are a number of resources to help businesses and employees manage the impacts of Long COVID, including:

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 guides include information on business 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 guides will help you navigate the support that is available as well as detailing preventative techniques that individuals use to manage their mental health.

The Mayor of London has published a series of guides to help support the wellbeing of businesses and employees:

Visit our Health & Wellbeing Hub

COVID-19 and the shift to remote working are also encouraging businesses to think about their office needs and how to best use their space. As a result, more employers are considering hybrid working options, which involve a combination of remote and office working.

London Business Hub has brought together an overview of hybrid working models.

Find out more

Business Help Series

London Business Hub has launched the 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.

Find out more

Resources and support

Boosting Community Business London

Boosting Community Business London is a new pilot scheme to grow high streets and civic centers.

Delivered by community business champions Power to Change and Cooperatives UK and supported by the Mayor of  London, the new fund will help local groups to set up and grow a community business. It will also support existing community businesses looking to run a community share offer.

Find out more

Guidance for businesses, the self-employed and employers

The following guidance sets out the steps businesses and employers should take to protect themselves and their staff:

Acas has published guidance to help employers understand their obligations and protect the health and safety of their staff.

ALVA (the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) has published a webinar about learning lessons from attractions that have reopened. It covers topics including managing crowds and hygiene.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Coronavirus Hub brings together sources of support and information.

The Business Disability Forum has published information to help employers support disabled employees .

CIPD has published coronavirus advice for UK employers, which sets out how they can respond to the coronavirus threat.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Coronavirus Hub brings together guidance, support and resources for businesses.

Co-operatives UK has produced a range of practical advice and guidance for co-operative businesses. It covers government support, HR advice, funding, governance and well-being.

The Gazette has published an overview of company voluntary arrangements to help businesses in financial difficulty.

Google has a dedicated online resource to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This site contains guidance on communicating with customers and employees, working remotely, modifying advertising, and more.

Google Digital Garage has dozens of free online courses that could help at this time – get a business online, make sure customers find you online and connect with customers over mobile. They are also running their free training workshops over webinars.

Google My Business is a free resource which allows users to keep customers up to date with any new information about their services – with some automatic changes.

Headspace Group has published an article about how to stay safe while working in a coworking environment.

HubbleHQ has published a series of articles to help businesses find the best workplace solutions for their team. Articles are available on new ways of using office space, office timesharing, and hybrid workplace solutions.

ICAEW’s Coronavirus Hub provides support and information to help firms recover from the impact of COVID-19.

NMFT (the National Market Traders Federation) has developed a practical guide for market and street traders in the UK.

Support to work from home

The following resources provide advice and information to support people to work and run their businesses from home:

Acas has published guidance for employers and their staff about homeworking. It covers health and safety, equipment, setting expectations, staying in touch and pay.

Cyber Aware from the National Cyber Security Centre provides advice on how to stay secure online.

Google has created a site with free resources to help people work, run their business, learn or teach from home.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance for employers about how to protect homeworkers.

London Business Hub has published a blog on remote collaboration: tools for small organisations and businesses.

Health and wellbeing

The following resources provide advice and information to help businesses, the self-employed and employees look after their health and wellbeing:

Acas has published guidance about coronavirus and mental health at work. It covers supporting staff’s mental health and managing workplace mental health.

CBI has published a factsheet about mental health and wellbeing in a crisis. It has also published a factsheet about how to put your employees’ mental health and wellbeing first.

Mind has published information to help businesses, the self-employed and workers take care of their mental health and wellbeing.

NHS England has published guidance to help people look after their mental wellbeing while staying at home.

Managing staff

Financial assistance for redundancy payments

Employers that cannot afford to pay their employees’ redundancy pay can apply for financial support. The Redundancy Payments Service makes statutory redundancy payments directly to employees on their employer’s behalf (subject to approval).

The Skills Toolkit

The Government has launched an online learning platform to help people build their skills.

The Skills Toolkit gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work, to more advanced training.

All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

Funding and business rates relief

Reliefs and support for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors

You could qualify for retail, hospitality and leisure relief if your business is mainly being used as a:

  • shop
  • restaurant, café, bar or pub
  • cinema or music venue
  • hospitality or leisure business – for example, a gym, a spa or a hotel

If you’re eligible, you could get 75% off your business rates bills for the 2023 to 2024 tax year (1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024).

The most you can get in each tax year is £110,000 per business.

You may be able to get retail, hospitality and leisure relief on top of other types of business rates relief you’re eligible for.

Contact your local council to find out if you’re eligible.

If you opt out of retail, hospitality and leisure relief for the 2023 to 2024 tax years, you cannot change your mind.

Recovery Loan Scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme, which originally launched in April 2021 to help businesses recovering from the pandemic, has been extended to 2024.

The Recovery Loan Scheme is currently open to small and medium-sized businesses to support them to access loans and other kinds of finance so they can recover after the pandemic and transition period.

Up to £2 million is available per business group. The actual amount offered and the terms are at the discretion of participating lenders. The government guarantees 70% of the finance to the lender. As the borrower, you are always 100% liable for the debt.

Loans are available through a network of accredited lenders, listed on the British Business Bank’s website.

Help with tax

Businesses and 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.

Help for landlords and tenants

Measures which protected commercial businesses from eviction during the pandemic have expired. The Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022 has introduced a legally binding arbitration process for eligible commercial landlords and tenants to resolve certain outstanding commercial rent debts related to the pandemic.

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