COVID-19 Supporting Businesses

UK government and local government have established many initiatives to help support businesses and employers who are affected by COVID-19. We have tried to answer some of your questions below


What is the government’s latest advice and support package for businesses?

Businesses in England required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions will now be able to receive grants worth up to £1,500 every three weeks. To be eligible for the grant, a business must have been required to close due to local COVID-19 restrictions. The largest businesses will receive £1,500 every three weeks and smaller businesses will receive £1,000 every three weeks.

The Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan scheme – to help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus. The scheme went live on Monday 4 May 2020 offering businesses loans of between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government extended the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, are eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. 

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will also ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. 

The government has introduced the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill Act, which will put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to support business to address the challenges resulting from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government has produced guidance on the Discretionary Grant Fund which supports small and micro businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes.

The government has unveiled a £200m package to help innovative businesses bounce back. The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.

The government made an announcement on 8 July 2020 allowing VAT registered businesses to apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to hospitality, holiday accommodation and visitor attractions.

Newcastle City Council is managing a business support fund to get much-needed cash to SMEs who fell outside the scope of previous government grant schemes. Launching on 27 July, Round 2 of the council’s discretionary fund aims to get £5,000 grants to around 250 businesses, proving a vital lifeline to cash-strapped businesses.

The North of Tyne Growth Fund is available to SMEs planning an expansion project in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland with costs of at least £134,000. The Fund is specifically open to tourism and leisure businesses. The fund will pay a capital grant of between £40,000 and £200,000 to cover up to 30% of eligible expenditure provided that the project generates increased employment in the area.

The Government Covid-19 – Business Support Hub provides all the latest information on business support direct from the government.

There is also a detailed paper available on business rates information and a page on the website to help businesses that need to defer their VAT payment. VAT payment deferrals are temporary changes to VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 to help businesses manage their cash flow.

There is also a tax helpline to support businesses.


Can you tell me more about the Business Interruption Loan Scheme?

NGI partner, UNW has a really useful FAQ document on this issue.


I’m self-employed, is there any help available for me?

The government updated its information on assistance for people who are self-employed on 14/04/20. Read more about the grant scheme here.

The Chancellor announced a package of support for people who are self employed. More information can be found here. There is also a FAQs section to help you.


Is there one-to-one advice advice available to businesses affected by COVID-19?

BEIS has launched the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, supported by the government and hosted on the Enterprise Nation website. The scheme gives small firms access to free, one-to-one advice with an expert adviser to help them through the coronavirus pandemic and to prepare for long-term recovery. Thousands of expert professional and business services advisers are on hand to offer free advice, until 31st December. Small and medium sized businesses can sign up, take the diagnostic tool and access support. Advice will focus on key areas:

    • accounting and finance
    • people and building a team
    • planning, strategy and pivoting
    • marketing, PR and social media
    • technology and digital tools

Find out more about the Recovery Advice for Business scheme.


We need to keep our business open. Is there any advice on social distancing in the workplace?

The government continues to publish updated advice on working safely during coronavirus.


Is there any support available to help businesses respond to supply chain demands in healthcare and PPE?

Supply Chain North East has made some significant changes to its programme to work with businesses that want to diversify and move into the PPE market. They can help your business establish the networks, materials and infrastructure you need to supply PPE quickly and effectively. Grants of up to 80% for up to £40,000 are available for businesses looking to make a long-term commitment to supply PPE.


As a non-essential business, if we need to shut down, how can I support my staff?

The government has announced an extension of the furlough scheme until October.

Read the government’s latest updates on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and whether you business is eligible.

The government has published a step-by-step guide for employers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

On 13 May the government issued new advice on holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus.

The government has updated the Guidance for Employers by adding new detail on the treatment of pension payments for furloughed workers. Specifically, you cannot claim for:

  • Additional National Insurance or pension contributions you make because you chose to top up your employee’s salary
  • Any pension contributions you make that are above the mandatory employer contribution

ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has a page dedicated to employer information to provide guidance in the event of a temporary shut down. Additionally, NGI partner, UNW has provided a great FAQ document on this issue.


I run a small businesses and am concerned that we can’t keep up with the pace of digital change, can I access any support for this?

Digital Boost has been created to provide much-needed digital support for small organisations and charities affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The platform will host a community of digital experts, who will offer one-to-one digital support to small businesses and charities free of charge to help them improve their digital capability to grow and prosper.


How can my business offer Coronavirus support to the government?

The Government is asking businesses if they can offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support. The support needed includes:

  • Medical testing equipment, medical equipment design, protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • Hotel rooms, transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • Manufacturing equipment
  • Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • Expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • Social care or childcare

Businesses can share the areas they can offer support through the online portal.


We are close to the end of our holiday year. What is the guidance on staff carrying over annual leave?

The government has issued a list of rules that can be relaxed during the Covid-19 crisis, including rules on annual leave.

NGI partner Ward Hadaway has a range of helpful FAQs on employment (as well as other legal issues). 

I run a food business, what’s the latest guidance for our sector?

New guidance for food businesses has been added to the government website including information about coronavirus and food, food hygiene guidance, managing employee sickness, social distancing and maintaining social distancing in specific food business settings.

What business advice and support is available in my local area?

Many local authorities have dedicated pages where they have brought all of their Covid-19 support information together in one place.

Newcastle City Council

Gateshead Council

Durham County Council

Northumberland County Council

Sunderland City Council

North Tyneside Council

South Tyneside Council


Who is defined as a key worker? 

Government guidance on critical workers who can access schools or educational settings


Is there any specific support out there for heritage organisations?

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50m fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak. Applications are open until 30 June.


Is there any guidance available for charities?

The Government website has charity-specific information available here.


NGI Partner information:

To find out more about how we are supporting our partners, including ways to contribute to intelligence gathering and how to update your information for our leisure visitor channels, please visit our dedicated partner page.



Check out our COVID-19 Business Resources page for the most useful COVID-19 resources we’ve seen (webinars, blogs, guides etc), alongside our own content which is designed to help our partner organisations and other businesses across North East England.