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?

On 4 November parliament voted on and approved the motion that England will go into a four week national lockdown starting on Thursday 5 November.

From 2 December the North East will be under tier 3 restrictions. After 14 days this will be reviewed. The government updated guidance on the tier restrictions to reflect the system that will be in place when England comes out of lockdown on 2 December:

The full Winter Plan has been published, detailing the government’s objectives, the route back to normality and Christmas and beyond.

The government has announced the extension of the furlough scheme until March. Check which employees you can furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Calculate how much you can claim.

Guidance was published detailing which businesses are required to close as of 5 November.

The government has given the £2.2bn of funding for the Local Restrictions Support Grant and the Additional Restrictions Grant to councils. Businesses are advised to check their local council website for further details and to apply:

The third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is now open for applications.

This government tool allows employers and the self-employed to determine their eligibility for loans, tax relief and cash grants.

The Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan scheme – to help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus.

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 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 unveiled a £200m package to help innovative businesses bounce back. The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies to 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.

Guidance has been updated on how to repay deferred VAT payments.

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.

There is also a tax helpline to support businesses.

Guidance on claiming back Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay is available here.


Which government grant is my business eligible for?

Coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grantlocal councils have the freedom to determine the eligibility of this grant. This grant is intended for businesses that are not required to close but have nonetheless been impacted by local restrictions.

Coronavirus Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses)for businesses required to close due to local lockdown restrictions and has been required to close for at least 14 days due to these restrictions.

Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open): for businesses in an area subject to ‘High’ or ‘Very High’ local restrictions since 1 August 2020 and has been severely impacted because of the local restrictions

Coronavirus Grant Due to National Restrictions (for closed businesses)for businesses required to close between 5 November and 2 December due to national lockdown restrictions. This does not include businesses that have chosen to close but are not required to as part of the restrictions.


What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.

A Kickstart Scheme application must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. Kickstart gateway can help employers with 29 or fewer job placements by applying for funding on their behalf. Find a Kickstart gateway here.

Terms and conditions for the scheme.

Tips for making a successful Kickstart application.


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 third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is open for applications.

The government has updated its guidance on support for self-employed people getting little or no work as a result of restrictions.

This government tool allows employers and the self-employed to determine their eligibility for loans, tax relief and cash grants.


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. Advice focuses 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. Available until 31 December.


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 31 March.

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.

In 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) have pages dedicated to employer & employee information to provide guidance on all things related to coronavirus.

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 hosts a community of digital experts, who offer free one-to-one digital support to help small businesses improve their digital capability to grow and prosper.


How can my business offer Coronavirus support to the government?

The government needs help increasing its testing capacity. For further information on how your business can help click here.

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 a page dedicated to supporting heritage organisations through the pandemic.

The Heritage Alliance launched the Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Rebuilding Heritage’ support programme. This free programme offers mentoring, advice, and training to help individuals and organisations respond to the challenges that have arisen as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.


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.