Government Guidance and Schemes to Support Businesses

This section covers the main areas of government guidance for businesses and employers, including initiatives to provide financial support. We will update this page regularly with new information.

The government coronavirus hub on GOV.UK contains links to all their guidance.

The government has supported the cultural sector with a £1.57 billion investment to protect arts, culture and heritage, the Cultural Recovery Fund. The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, has provided a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard by the pandemic. It has provided support through loans and grants. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors. More information can be found on our Culture Recovery Fund pages.

Support for businesses

The Additional Restrictions Grant provides grants through local authorities for businesses that are severely impacted by ongoing restrictions.

The government announced further support for businesses during the early 2021 lockdown. This includes top-up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses of up to £9,000. More information can be found on the government’s Support for Businesses pages.

The government has announced a £6.1 million funding boost for high streets through Business Improvement Districts. The government has also announced £95 million of funding for 68 high streets as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones to unlock the potential of these high streets and fuel economic and social recovery from COVID-19. This programme is delivered by Historic England.

Government has launched a tool to help businesses identify whether they can reopen safely. It points businesses towards the specific guidance they will need to comply with in taking steps to reopen.

HM Revenue and Customs has published information on how to apply for the reduced VAT rate of 5% to certain supplies for hospitality, accommodation and attractions and guidance on which businesses are eligible. The reduced VAT rate will remain in place until the end of September 2021, rising to 12.5% for another six months before returning to 20%.

The VAT deferral scheme has ended, and you may be charged a 5% penalty or interest if you did not pay in full or make an arrangement to pay by 30 June 2021. 

Employers looking to create job placements for young people can apply for funding through the Kickstart Scheme. This allows employers to create new six-month job placements for young people currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

The Recovery Loan Scheme, a government-backed scheme, was launched on 6 April, to provide additional finance to those businesses that need it. Loans will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap. The Recovery Loan Scheme can be used as an additional loan on top of support received from the emergency schemes – such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – put into place last year.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ended on 30 September 2021.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme repays employers Statutory Sick Pay for absences due to coronavirus or self-isolation of up to two weeks.

Bounce Back loans allowed small businesses to apply for loans of up to £50,000. This scheme is now closed (as of 31 March 2021). Those who have taken out Bounce Back Loans now have the option to tailor their repayments to their circumstances and to take a six-month payment holiday.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supported small and medium sized businesses to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5m for up to six years. This scheme is now closed (as of 31 March 2021).

The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG) are schemes delivered by local authorities, using funding they receive funding from central government. The SBGF allows businesses to apply for a payment of £10,000 and the RHLG allows businesses to apply for a cash grant of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.

UK businesses driving innovation and development will be helped by a billion pound support package.

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme helped large businesses access loans of up to £25 million. This scheme is now closed (as of 31 March 2021).

The COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility helped large businesses through the purchase of their short-term debt via the Bank of England. This scheme is now closed.

Commercial tenants who could not pay their rent because of coronavirus were protected from eviction through measures in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

A new code of practice has been developed with leaders from the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported.

From 25 March 2020, companies are able to apply for a three month extension to file their accounts. Companies House has also announced further support to help businesses meet their legal responsibilities.

HMRC has set up a helpline to support businesses and self-employed people. The number is: 0800 024 1222.

The government has published advice on what to do if you are unable to pay your tax bill.

Government guidance for businesses and employees

BEIS has launched a business support tool and a blog to allow employers and the self-employed to find out what support is available to them.

This guidance supports businesses to stay open safely during coronavirus and contains advice to help employers and employees work safely across different types of workplace.

This guidance provides information on the support packages available for businesses and how to access and apply for them.

The government announced a business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

The government has implemented a range of measures to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue and complete, or to break and resume when possible.

This Public Health England guidance is for those managing places such as offices, waiting rooms or accommodation. If you are dealing with historic settings and surfaces, please refer to our advice on cleaning historic surfaces.

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