Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Businesses

Last Updated:

The Borough Council recognises the huge strain being felt by a large number of our businesses at present and is committed to doing everything we can to provide support during this difficult period.

UPDATE: 25 JUNE 2020: Businesses that are operating can download our social distancing poster.

UPDATE: 15 June 2020: The Kent & Medway Growth Hub has produced a video guide to re-opening non-essential businesses.

Re-Opening of Local Business

The Borough Council is implementing a range of measures to support the safe re-opening of shops and businesses across the borough from 15 June 2020, and supporting the re-opening of further businesses from 04 July 2020.

These measures, which are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, will include the following measures:

  • Posters, street signs and social media reminders to maintain social distancing
  • Information Officers to provide support and guidance to shoppers in Tonbridge, West Malling, Snodland, Borough Green and Aylesford
  • Additional cleaning of street furniture and public facilities
  • CCTV monitoring to monitor queues and identify overcrowding issues.

There is a range of essential guidance available to businesses looking to open back up including the following:

Small Business Covid-19 Discretionary Fund - NOW CLOSED

Please note that this scheme closed to applications at 5pm on 10 June 2020. The Borough Council has now allocated funding to around 150 businesses in the borough.

Wider Financial Support Measures

Local Covid-19 Business Helpline (part-funded by TMBC) is up and running on 03333 602300 (open 8:30am-5:00pm Monday to Friday). If you need to talk over any aspect of your business, they will be able to help.

The Chancellor announced an emergency rescue package for businesses following the coronavirus restrictions on 17 March 2020, which included the Small Business Grant and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Schemes.

Small Business Grants and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants

Please note these funds are not available to businesses that do not have a Business Rates Liability.

The Borough Council has now been allocated a total of £20.12m to distribute to eligible businesses through these schemes, and has now distributed just under 90% of our total allocation to eligible businesses. If you are eligible for a grant through either of these schemes but haven't heard from the Borough Council yet, you can fill in the Covid-19 Response Form so that we have the details we require to make payment. However, if you are unsure about your eligibility please contact inspectors@tmbc.gov.uk so that we can check for you.

Other Support Available

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) has now been extended until the end of October 2020.
  • Self Employment Income Support Scheme - is now open for applications.
  • 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.
  • the Bounce Back Loan is now open. It is aimed at smaller businesses which offers up to £50,000, with no test of viability, a simple application and is 100% government guranteed.
  • A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank and its partners, has now been expanded to cover all viable firms. All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.
  • 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.

To check if you might be eligible for any of the above schemes (including the grants), you can visit the Business Support Finder.

Central Government has also made announcements on a £1.25bn support package for innovative businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic (which is in addition to the measures mentioned below) as well as confirmation on the extent of business rate relief across the country.

Useful Advice and Information

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

Central Government Guidance for Employers and Businesses

Federation of Small Business

British Chambers of Commerce

Confederation of British Industry

South East LEP - Digital Skills Support and Advice

South East Growth Hub

Visit Kent- geared specifically towards businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Locate in Kent

Food Standards Agency - advice for food businesses on re-opening and adapting.

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

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