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 (Coronavirus) – Support for Businesses and Employers

COVID-19 Grants for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The London Business Hub COVID-19 Recovery Grants are now closed.

However, we have several programmes open that support businesses across a wide range of issues, such as accessing funding, negotiating property agreements and building business strategy.

Find out more

Recent and important Government announcements

Prime Minister outlines COVID-19 Winter Plan (23 November 2020)

The Prime Minister has outlined the Government’s new COVID-19 Winter Plan, which sets out measures for managing COVID-19 through the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021.

Under the COVID-19 Winter Plan, local areas across England will be categorised into a stricter version of the three-tier system of restrictions that operated in England before the current national lockdown began. Each tier will set out the restrictions that will apply after the national restrictions end on 2 December.

On 2 December, across all of England, regardless of tier:

  • The stay at home requirement will end, with travel being permitted again subject to guidance in each tier.
  • Shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector will reopen.
  • Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume.
  • People will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public spaces – the rule of six will now apply outdoors.

The following restrictions will also come into force depending on the local area’s tier:

Medium tier

  • Rule of six applies indoors and outdoors.
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table service only. They must stop taking orders at 10pm and close by 11pm.
  • Avoid travel into ‘very high’ tier areas except where necessary.
  • Everyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

High tier

  • No mixing of households indoors, apart from support bubbles. Rule of six outdoors.
  • Pubs and bars must close unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals. They must stop taking orders at 10pm and close by 11pm.
  • Reduce the number of journeys made where possible. Avoid travel into ‘very high’ tier areas except where necessary.
  • Everyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

Very high tier

  • No mixing of households indoors or in most outdoor places, apart from support bubbles.
  • Hospitality venues must close with the exception of takeaway, drive-through or delivery.
  • Indoor entertainment venues must close.
  • Avoid travelling outside the area, other than where necessary.
  • Everyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

The Government will confirm which areas will fall into which tier later this week.


New national restrictions come into force from 5 November

The following new national restrictions came into force across England on Thursday 5 November:

  • People should work from home wherever possible. Workplaces should stay open where people cannot work from home.
  • Non-essential retail, leisure facilities, entertainment venues and personal care facilities are required to close. A full list of business closures is available here.
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants must close, except for takeaway and delivery services.
  • Everyone must stay home and may only leave for a limited set of reasons. These include for work, for education, for exercise, for medical reasons, to provide care and to shop for essentials.
  • People cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions.
  • Indoor mixing is not allowed outside of your household or support bubble. People can exercise or visit outdoor public places with members of their own household, support bubble, or one person from another household.

The new restrictions will apply across England up to Wednesday 2 December. At the end of the period, the Government will look to return to a regional approach with regard to coronavirus restrictions.

Find out more about the restrictions.

Financial support

The UK Government has set out details of the financial support available for businesses, the self-employed and employees in England affected by the new restrictions.

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or Furlough Scheme) has been extended until the end of March 2021. Under the scheme, the Government will pay 80% of an employee’s salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions. The Government will review the scheme in January to see if the economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.
  • Businesses required to close due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for grants of up to £3,000 per month.
  • Mortgage holidays will be extended.
  • The third grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme covering November to January will be increased, with the self-employed receiving 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
  • The Government has extended the application deadlines for the following business interruption loan schemes until 31 January 2021: the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund. Eligible businesses will be able to ‘top-up’ existing Bounce Back Loans should they need additional finance.

Find out more about the support available.

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.

Find out more

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.

Reopening safely

London Business Hub has published a series of guides to support businesses across London to reopen and work safely during COVID-19:

Government support

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.

Reopening the hospitality sector

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

Advice and guidance

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.

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Information about support for businesses and the self-employed during COVID-19.