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Small businesses: navigating the effects of coronavirus

Last updated: 22-05-20

Covid-19 is having a major impact on businesses (small and large) across the UK. We want to provide support in any way possible, so please find below a list of information and links to resources that might be relevant to you and your business.

We’re here to offer and signpost support where we can and help sum up some of the advice issued by the government. As the government is currently providing daily updates, some of this information is likely to change. We aim to keep advice current and factual, so will be updating this resource regularly to reflect any updates.

Please do let us know if you are facing challenges that we can potentially help with. We are here for you and will do our utmost to help you get through this. If you have any questions, please send them to

We would highly recommend signing up for email alerts on the government response to COVID-19. Sign up here.

Update 22-05-20

National Lottery Community Fund of £200m launched today, aimed primarily at small and medium sized businesses in the UK. The fund will be issued to activities supporting people and communities affected by COVID-19, and certain projects and organisations will be prioritised. Read more here


The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) provides lenders with a government-backed guarantee of 100% to offer loans of up to £50,000 to businesses across the UK that are losing revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. BBLS is administered by the British Business Bank and made available to businesses via accredited lenders. It is currently open until 4 November 2020. Read factsheet for SMEs here


A new Accelerator run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is offering free support to help SMEs rapidly innovate during the Covid-19 crisis. SMEs based in the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough area will be eligible for support to enable them to find new innovative ways to operate, rewire supply chains, and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are met. Find out more here


Funding programmes & schemes


Schemes introduced by Government:

      • the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough)
      • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
      • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
      • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
      • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
      • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
      • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
      • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
      • 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
      • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

The ICAEW have drafted a quick summary of these measures.


Federation for Small Business (FSB) Guide

Covers sections on:

      • If you have to close your organisation
      • Business insurance
      • Advice for employers
      • Measures for the workplace

It’s aimed at small businesses, but the advice is also relevant to small charities, social enterprises, community businesses and impact organisations.

Full details of support for businesses available from the government are available here:


London Growth Hub – 1-2-1 Support

      • London Growth Hub are offering 1-2-1 support sessions with their business advisors. Please register your interest



Please click here for the latest government guidance on the measures.

The measures below have been extracted and summarised from the government guidance being issued online at and via email. Not all measures are available yet, as central government mobilise the systems to enable applications to be made and support to be accessed by businesses.

These measures are being updated daily by central government and we are doing our best to keep the resources below as current as possible for our tenants, programme cohort and staff. Please feel free to share this resource page with your network, colleagues and friends – whoever you feel may benefit. The more we share knowledge and resources the more resilient we will be collectively.

N.B. We must stress the guidance below is for information only – it does not constitute financial advice. Please consult your accountants / financial advisers as necessary before utilising any of the financial measures available that include any form of debt or liability being incurred, in particular VAT, tax deferral and business loans.


Cash grants (£10k) – for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The government has introduced Small Business Grant Scheme to be administered through local authorities, supporting small businesses that currently pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. SBR relief will apply to many of our tenants. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Please see guidance note v3

Eligibility Criteria

You are eligible if:

      • Your business is based in England.
      • You are a small business and already receive SBBR and/or RRR
      • You are a business that occupies property

Local authorities are administering the scheme, please see the guidance note linked above and government website for further details.


Cash grants – for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

Eligibility Criteria:

Please see guidance here v3

Local authorities are administering the scheme, please see the guidance note linked above and government website for further details.


Grants for young entrepreneurs affected by coronavirus

To be eligible, businesses must have started up in the last four years and be run by someone aged 18 to 30.


COVID-19 Business Support Hub from Mercer & Hole

Created by accountancy industry experts Mercer&Hole, the resource breaks down financial considerations for business leaders during the pandemic.


Job retention scheme

A scheme is in place for HMRC to reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs (capped at £2,500 per month). All UK employers with a PAYE scheme as of 28th February 2020 are eligible to use this scheme. Read the guidance and apply on the HMRC portal.


All UK businesses, including local authorities and charities are eligible – click here.


Business rates holiday (for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses)

The government has introduced a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in the England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Please see guidance for eligibility criteria – click here.

To estimate the business rates you’re likely to save click here.

There is no action needed if you meet eligibility. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to provide this support.


Deferring VAT:

For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20/03/2020 to 30/06/2020.

Eligibility Criteria:

All UK Businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme:

Businesses can defer the payment until a later date or pay the VAT due as normal. A VAT return will still need to be submitted to HRMC on time.

VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

For further information on accessing the scheme click here.


Statutory sick pay

Full details are provided available on the government website – click here.

You are eligible if your business is UK based, and if your business is small or medium-sized, with fewer than 250 employees as of 28/02/2020.

A rebate scheme is being developed.


Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.


Small business rates relief

If you are an eligible entity you will not pay business rates on a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

For properties with a rateable value of £12,001 to £15,000, the rate of relief will go down gradually from 100% to 0%.

You are eligible for this if:

      1. your property’s rateable value is less than £15,000
      2. your business only uses one property – you may still be able to get relief if you use more


Contact your local council to apply for small business rate relief:


Please contact us at if you come across other resources we could add to this page, or if anything seems inaccurate or out of date.


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