Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Businesses

Last Updated:

UPDATE: the UK Research Institute has just launched a new Covid-19 Innovation Response Competition offering up front grants of up to £50,000 to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. Deadline for submissions is 17 April 2020.

Local Covid-19 Business Helpline (part-funded by TMBC) now up and running on 03333 602300 (open 8:30am-5:00pm Monday to Friday)

The Borough Council is committed to doing everything we can to support businesses during this difficult period.

The Chancellor has announced an emergency rescue package for businesses following the coronavirus restrictions that were announced on 17 March 2020.

Some of the key measures involve reducing business rates and making direct cash grants to the most affected business sectors:

  • Eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in 2020-21 (a '12-month business rates holiday').
  • Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with rateable values up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant payment of £10,000. Businesses in that sector with rateable values over £15,000 and below £51,000 will receive a grant payment of £25,000.
  • All businesses in receipt of Rural Rate Relief or Small Business Rate Relief on 11 March 2020 (including those on tapered relief) will be eligible for a grant payment of £10,000. Properties whose liability is calculated using the small business multiplier but not in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief will not qualify for this grant and neither will properties which are occupied for personal use.
  • Nursery businesses (not in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief) that are providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register and where the premises are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage will be eligible for a business rates holiday during 2020-21. These businesses are not eligible for a grant payment.

The Government has now produced further guidance on both the business rates discount and the grant funding that provides further clarity on eligiblity, including information on the types of businesses that are deemed to be within the 'retail, leisure and hospitality' sectors (please note: Treasury have now expanded the definition to include bingo halls, estate agents and letting agencies). The Borough Council is now getting in touch with eligible businesses ensuring that the discount and grants are passed on to those businesses who are eligible as soon as possible. If you think you are eligible for a grant but haven't heard from the Borough Council, please contact inspectors@tmbc.gov.uk.

There have also been a number of other announcements from Government aimed at providing support to business, including:

  • Statutory Sick Pay Relief Package for SMEs
  • A Job Retention Scheme whereby employers can get a grant of 80% of the wages of staff that are not working up to a limit of £2,500 per month. HMRC are currently working urgently to set up a system of reimbursement.
  • Self Employment Income Support Scheme
  • VAT for all businesses will be deferred until the end of June 2020 and businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
  • A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank and its partners, offering loans of up to £5 million. This is now open with the interest-free period now extended to 12 months.
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans.
  • HMRC Tax Helpline aimed at providing help with delaying payments (HMRC Time to Pay Scheme).
  • Self-employed people will be able to access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.

For further details on these, and other announcements as they happen, go to the Government website.

A range of practical advice, support and information is also available via the following links:

Central Government Guidance for Employers and Businesses - including FAQs about business closures and staying at home

South East Growth Hub

Federation of Small Business

British Chambers of Commerce

Confederation of British Industry

Entitledto has provided useful information about accessing benefits for self-employed people or employees that have been affected by coronavirus.

TMBC Environmental Health - advice for food businesses

Visit Kent - geared specifically towards businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector, and including information on other funding streams.

Kent Police - practical advice on securing your business premises once it has been closed. Further guidance has now been released on which businesses must close and which can stay open.

There is also guidance from Government for staff in the transport sector.

This page will be continually updated as soon as further information is made available from Central Government.