Coronavirus - Government support for businesses

Coronavirus – Government Support for Business (as of 01 April 2020)

Darlington Borough Council is committed to supporting our local businesses. We are working closely with government, our partners, stakeholders and other organisations. We have put together this summary of important information to help you find the support you need.

Public safety is the top priority but we, and government, recognise that people will be concerned about the effect COVID-19 will have on their businesses and their workforce.

Grant Funding Schemes – IMPORTANT UPDATE

  • The Small Business Grant fund (SBGF). Businesses that are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief can now access a grant up to £10,000, or
  • Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors can access support through the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) providing:
    • £10,000 for those businesses with a rateable value less than £15,000, or
    • £25,000 grants for those businesses with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000

We have now received guidance from Government regarding how these measures will be administered. A letter is being sent today (24th March 2020) to all business that are eligible for either the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). Details of how to access these grants are included in the letter.

If you have any queries regarding claiming this support, please contact the DBC’s Business Rates Helpline: Tel.01325 405666

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary and targeted measures to support businesses and employees through this period of disruption. Full details can be found on the government website[external link]. 

As part of the 2020 budget, the Government announced special financial support and advice for businesses at risk of trading or financial disruption.  This service[external link] can provide advice for cashflow issues, credit, employment matters, business rates and many other business continuity issues.  Please contact: 

Tel 0300 4563565

Email: [email protected]

The Chancellor has outlined several measures to provide additional business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cash flow by:

  • giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority – you do not need to apply.
  • Increasing the level of business rate discount from £1,000 to £5,000 for pubs with a rateable value less than £100,000
  • supporting the food industry and help provide meals for people who need to self-isolate, the Government have relaxed planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.

To support small, medium and large businesses facing cash flow issues as a result of COIVD-19, support measures introduced:

  • support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • increase the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments
  • include new legal powers in the Covid Bill enabling the Government to offer whatever further financial support is necessary to businesses

The Government have updated and clarified the list of businesses and premises [external link] that can remain open and those that must close.

Self Employed Income Support Scheme - Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced measures to support the self-employed, with the introduction of the government’s new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme - a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of a self-employed worker’s average monthly profit from over the last three years - up to a limit of £2,500.  Initially, this will be available for three months in one lump-sum payment, and will start to be paid from the beginning of June. It is open to those who were trading in the last financial year, still trading now, and planning to continue doing so this year. The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. This is how it will work:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will use existing information to identify those eligible and will invite applications
  • The application will require them to confirm that they meet the eligibility requirements
  • It will be paid straight into a bank account, which eligible taxpayers will need to confirm on their application form
  • People do not need to contact HMRC now, if they are eligible HMRC will contact them directly

Those who are recently self-employed and do not have a full year of accounts will not receive any help under this scheme.

Further information is available on the government website [external link]  

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now available to eligible individuals that are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are self-isolating in line with the latest Government advice. SSP is provided to eligible individuals from day 1 instead of day 4.  Eligible small and medium sized businesses will be able to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 for up to two weeks per individual. Employers should maintain records of staff absences to reclaim. Employees do not need to provide a GP fit note. Those not eligible for SSP (self-employed or below the Lower Earning Limit) can claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses are eligible.  HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement.

Universal Credit & Self-Employment - If you are self-employed and claiming Universal Credit, and are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus, the Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) will not be applied for a period of time whilst you are affected.  From 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment. Visit the Universal Credit website[external link] for further information:

Universal Credit National Telephone Helpline: 0800 328 5644

Arts Council England[external link] have launched an £160m emergency response package to help cultural organisations, freelancers and individual artists survive the coronavirus crisis. The money is intended to prevent artists and arts organisations from going bust, but is also designed to help them come up with creative responses “to buoy the public” during the lockdown.  The Arts Council's support package includes £20m for individuals (made up of grants of up to £2,500 each), £90m for National Portfolio Organisations - venues and others that get annual funding - and £50m for organisations outside that scheme. They've re-purposed all their investment strands to be able to offer this support and these emergency funding streams will be open to applications very soon. 

Business Support Organisations

If you are concerned that your business will not be able to cover payment of taxes as a consequence of COVID-19, you can access advice and guidance via the Tax Helpline[external link] or on 0800 0159 559 

Tees Valley Business Growth Hub [external link] 

Federation of Small Businesses [external link]

Darlington Business Club [external link] 

North-East Chamber of Commerce [external link] 

Darlington’s Business Investment Team can offer help with advice and guidance on how to access the business rates measures and grants.  Please contact:   [email protected]

Tees Valley Combined Authority has a simple and clear webpage that provides businesses with clarity in finding and applying for support (once we know how everything works).

Email:  [email protected]


Telephone Helpline: 01642 662777