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

Recent and important Government announcements

Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan (24 September 2020)

The Chancellor has outlined his Winter Economy Plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months. Support includes:

Support for employers and workers

  • A new six-month Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect jobs in businesses that are facing lower demand over the winter due to coronavirus. The Government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand. Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work – but for the hours not worked, the Government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary. In order to support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.
  • The Government will extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant. An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875. An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.

Tax cuts and deferrals

  • The Government will extend the temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors until the end of March 2021.
  • Eligible business that deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.
  • Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

Coronavirus loan schemes

  • A new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment scheme will support businesses that took out a Bounce Back Loan. This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.
  • The Chancellor will extend applications for the Government’s coronavirus loan schemes until the end of November. This covers the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund.

Further coronavirus restrictions announced (22 September 2020)

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 will now also be 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.
  • Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law from 24 September.
  • Office workers who can work effectively from home should do so.
  • Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure from 28 September.
  • Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings from 23 September.
  • Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will no longer go ahead.

Read more about the measures.

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

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

HM Government have confirmed plans to provide the London Growth Hub with £1.6m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to launch a new SME grant fund.

Eligible SMEs will have access to grants between £1,000 – £5,000. The purpose of this funding is to help them access professional, legal, financial or other advice and /or new technology and other minor equipment to address their immediate needs in response to the impact of COVID-19.

Find out more

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.

Hot topic: How to prepare for the NHS COVID-19 app

Businesses that are required to collect Test and Trace data are being urged to prepare for the launch of the new NHS COVID-19 app in England on Thursday 24 September.

The app will allow 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 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 will be supporting businesses and venues to display the QR codes, which can be downloaded via a website to display as posters in premises.

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 will now also be 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.
  • Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law from 24 September.
  • Office workers who can work effectively from home should do so.
  • Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure from 28 September.
  • Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings from 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 from Monday 15 June, 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 (from 15 June) that they should 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 are required to wear face coverings from 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 are required to wear face coverings from 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

From 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days. Core COVID-19 Secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses, and egregious breaches enforced.

Local lockdowns

The Government will restrict the opening hours of premises, initially in local lockdown areas, with the option of national action in the future. There are currently no local lockdowns in the Greater London area. If a local lockdown comes into force, it will be announced here.

NHS COVID-19 app

Businesses that are required to collect Test and Trace data are being urged to prepare for the launch of the new NHS COVID-19 app in England on Thursday 24 September.

The app will allow 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 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.

The government will be supporting businesses and venues to display the QR codes, which can be downloaded via a website to display as posters in premises. Find out more.

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 will now also be 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.

Read more about the restrictions.

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.

Related Resources

Sector-specific Support During COVID-19
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LBH Content

Sector-specific Support During COVID-19

Information about support available for specific sectors during COVID-19.

The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy
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The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

The UK Government has published a strategy to respond to COVID-19.

EU Transition Business Resource Hub
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EU Transition Business Resource Hub

Support for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period.