COVID-19: Support for businesses and the self-employed

Support for businesses and the self-employed 

On this page you will find information from Central and Local Government, from trade and business support organisations across the UK, and important local information from our own Council teams. We will continue to  update these pages as more support advice, guidance and funding programmes are developed, both by us and our partners.

We are here to support you and the local economy.

We understand just how worrying the situation is for businesses right now, and our immediate advice is to keep up to date on all Government Coronavirus related grants and schemes through their Business Support Hub

The impact of COVID-19 on local businesses

Business Survey

The Council wants to hear from our businesses and self-employed. We have been responding to the various and widespread challenges for businesses, raised by the COVID-19 emergency. This includes providing Government support, as well introducing our own measures, including creating a local Business Interruption Fund and help for smaller businesses in Council premises and our market traders. 

Protecting your livelihoods is one of our top priorities and, whether you are a sole trader, small enterprise, or large business, we want to know how COVID-19 has affected you and what support you feel is needed.

That’s why we have launched our Business Survey, to find out exactly the challenges our businesses have faced and are still facing and to better understand how the Council can help you.

This short survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete. If you leave your contact details, we will be able to send you further information for businesses. The closing date for responses is 11 June 2020.

start the survey

 

HM Government support for businesses and the self-employed

UK Government sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June

The UK Government announced on Monday 25 May 2020 a roadmap for reopening a broader range of shops starting from next month. From 1 June 2020, it intends to allow outdoor markets to reopen, subject to all premises being made COVID-secure, as well as car showrooms, which often have significant outdoor space and where it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

From 15 June 2020, UK Government intends to allow all other retailers, ranging from shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines. Read the full statement on the GOV.UK website.

Updated guidance for the retail sector on hygiene and social distancing measures has also been published on the GOV.UK website.

The Government’s quick and easy Business Support Finder is the best place to start if you are looking for information on the financial support.  It will quickly help you identify what is available for you, your business, and your employees. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants, whether your business is open or closed. 

Other key information on Government support is available including:

Business rates and associated grants

Support for businesses through Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund

In response to the Coronavirus, COVID-19, the Government announced there would be support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, delivered through the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant Fund. This additional fund is aimed at small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund.

Guidance for this fund was published on the 13 May 2020 for Local Authorities, along with an indication of what monies the Council will receive in order to deliver grants to borough businesses. Eligibility is being considered currently, and the criteria for this fund will be published shortly.

Support for businesses that pay business rates

2020/21 - Business rates holiday

The Government has announced that there will be a business rates holiday for those within the retail, hospitality and leisure industries for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

This will apply to those businesses receiving retail relief on 11 March 2020 but also many other businesses that provide leisure and hospitality services. This means that those eligible for the business rates holiday will not have to pay anything for the 2020/21 tax year and will not have to pay anything back.

The Council has issued revised bills for 2020/21 and these will be with you shortly.

Therefore, if you currently pay by Direct Debit, the Council will not be taking payment in April 2020. If you pay by an alternative method, you will not be expected to make a payment in April whilst you await your updated bill.

If you think that you may still be liable for some business rates in the year and would like to still make a payment in April, this will not be possible by Direct Debit but please use one of the alternative payment methods as set out on the Council’s website.

Government grants

The Government has announced a grant of up to £25,000 for smaller businesses who are eligible for retail relief as of 11 March 2020 and where the rateable value of premises is less than £51,000.

If your property has a rateable value of up to £15,000, you will be entitled to a grant of £10,000. If your rateable value is between £15,001 and £51,000, you are entitled to £25,000.

The Council has written to all businesses eligible for this grant requesting details for making this payment. If you are not able to access your letter or would prefer to apply online, you can fill in the form below. 

The grant is payable to the person who, according to the billing authority’s records, was the ratepayer on the 11 March 2020.  Therefore, if you have a rating agent who acts on your behalf we would encourage all businesses to ensure it is the rate payer who completes the form.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

Businesses in the borough that are currently in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) can receive additional funding from the Government through a one-off grant of £10,000. All businesses that were in receipt of SBRR at 11 March 2020 are eligible and this grant is being provided to help you meet ongoing business costs. Recipients eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund will not be eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant detailed above.

The Council has written to all businesses eligible for this grant requesting details for making this payment. If you are not able to access your letter or would prefer to apply online, you can fill in the form below.

Apply for the Government's Small Business Rate Relief Grant online

Before you start, you will need:

  • your business rate number
  • your company registration number
  • your VAT registration number
  • proof of bank details

Start

If you think you are eligible for a Government business rates grant but have not been contacted, please fill in the form above or email us at: covid19businessrates@rbkc.gov.uk.

Extra protection for commercial tenants who miss rent payments

Protection from eviction for commercial tenants

Businesses are advised to speak to their landlord to see if they have considered any measure to help, for example, by moving from a quarterly to a monthly rent, or indeed offering a pause on collecting rent for an agreed period.

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. Note that this is not a rental holiday – businesses will still be liable for the rent.

For information on protection from eviction for commercial tenants visit the GOV.UK website.

Coronavirus job retention scheme

The Government has announced that all UK employers will be eligible for a scheme via HMRC which will support them in continuing to pay employees’ wages who unable to work due to social distancing or self-isolation in response to the Coronavirus.

Government grants will cover 80% of retained workers’ salary of up to £2500 a month per worker, and this is eligible for employees in jobs backdated to 1 March 2020. More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

Finance

Corporate financing

Support for smaller firms through the COVID-19 Bounce Back Loan scheme

The Bounce Back Loan scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months.

Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days.

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

To see if you are eligible and to start an application go to the Bounce Back Loan page of the GOV.UK website

Note that you cannot apply if you are already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) - see the GOV.UK website for further details.

However, If you have already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.

Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible. Further details can be found in the exchange of letters between the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor on the GOV.UK website.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBLS)

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, supports businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Government provides participating lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. Business owners are advised to speak to their business banking contact as soon as possible.

This scheme is now available to all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing. Lenders are banned from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000. There are also operational changes aimed at speeding up approvals.

The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments. More information can be found on the British Business Bank website.

Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is enough to make a claim.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.

In addition a package of measures to support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees was also announced Find out more on the GOV.UK website.

Taxes

The Government has announced that it will be deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for three months and if you are self-employed, your self-assessment income tax payments for July 2020 will be deferred to January 2021.

You can find out more information about tax deferrals on the GOV.UK website.

A new helpline to the HMRC's Time to Pay service, so businesses and the self-employed can arrange to defer tax payments.

Entrepreneurs' Tax Relief, for business owners who sell their firms, has been scaled down to relief on profits of up to £1m over their lifetime, from the previous £10m relief on profits. Visit GOV.UK website for more information.

Employment allowance to increase by £1,000 allowing certain businesses who employ staff to reduce their National Insurance bill by £4,000. Visit GOV.UK website for more information.

Information for self-employed

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is for those who are self-employed and have lost income due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).This support is for the majority of their income derived from self-employment. Visit the GOV.UK website for information on this scheme.

If you are not eligible for Self-employment Income Support Scheme – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit on the Universal Credit website or new style Employment and Support Allowance on the GOV.UK website.

The Government has issued advice about coronavirus and claiming benefits, which will continue to be updated on the Universal Credit website.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance , it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.


Council Support for businesses and self-employed

Business Interruption Fund - guidance

This discretionary fund is here to support RBKC based businesses (including the self-employed) that have used all other forms of financial relief available from the Government (including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)). The fund will consider applications on a case-by-case basis for funds to help ease the disruption being caused by the current COVID 19 emergency. It will initially consider applications covering the period 1 March 2020 – 31 May 2020. Please make sure you have read the guidance in this section carefully before you complete the application form.

The funding for this Fund is limited so it could be closed for new applications at any time. 

Business or self-employed in RBKC are eligible to apply if:

  • you are an RBKC based premises (home or commercial premises in the Borough)
  • you are a private enterprise trading as self-employed, partnership or Limited Company
  • you have fewer than 20 employees (full time equivalent) or £2 million turnover
  • you can demonstrate disruption to trading and income and not able to source working capital from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Fund (CBILS)

A business with an annual turnover below £74,999 can apply for up to £2,500 (in the period to 31 May 2020).

A business with an annual turnover above £75,000 can apply up to a maximum of £5,000 (in the period to 31 May 2020)

Businesses can apply for grant to assist with:

  • essential business costs (other than staff/wages as other schemes exist to support these costs)  
  • a contribution towards rent on commercial premises (but not residential, and will not support any existing rent arrears prior to 1 March)
  • stock or other essential running costs

The fund will not cover financial hardship that is offset through any of the following forms of support:

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) - if your bank application has been declined then you may apply to this fund
  • The Bounce Back Loan scheme
  • Government Job Retention Scheme
  • Government Self Employed Income Support Scheme
  • RBKC Business Rates Hardship Relief
  • Finances covered through any sector specific relief fund that exists 
  • Insurance (including business interruption insurance)
  • In the unlikely event the business has received a significant amount of public funding then EU State Aid limitations may apply

 

Application process

Applications will be reviewed by a decision panel and scored based upon the following approval criteria. Applicants will need to include clear evidence of their hardship case and demonstrate that other avenues of support have been considered, including those forms of support listed in the previous section: 

  • evidence of need 
  • local connections / employees – does the business have a strong local connections?
  • will the funding have an impact in this situation?
  • last resort – evidence has tried other routes etc. ensure applicant has sought suitable support from the measures announced first and not duplicating another available source 
  • suitable evidence of trading provided

 

Evidence Required

Please submit with this form:

  1. A copy of the business’ accounts or a copy of your tax self-assessment for the previous two years. (If started recently, then please supply 2 below)
  2. A copy of your most recent management accounts or trading summary showing turnover figures.
  3. A copy of the most recent bank statement for your business, showing the name, address and account details (we will need this to be able to pay any grant awarded to you) – the transaction details can be redacted
  4. One form of identity documentation for the named applicant (passport, driver’s licence)

Eligible businesses can apply by completing the online application form in the business Interruption fund section below.

Business Interruption Fund – application form

The Council has set up a fund which will allow smaller, private enterprises in the borough, with either fewer than 20 employees or a turnover of less than £2 million, access to a grant of up to £5,000. This emergency fund is only open to those who have experienced disruption to trading and income due to the Coronavirus and have not been able to source working capital from any other Government support scheme to cover essential business costs.

Apply for the Business Interruption Fund

Before you start you will need one of the following documents:

  • A copy of the business' accounts the period 2017/18 and 2018/19
  • A copy of your tax self-assessment for the previous two years
  • If started recently, a copy of your most recent management accounts or trading summary showing turnover figures.

You will also need:

  • A copy of the most recent bank statement for your business, showing the name, address and account details (we need this to be able to pay any grant awarded to you) - the transaction details can be redacted.
  • One form of identity documentation for the named applicant (driver's licence, passport).

Start now

If you have any questions about the Business Interruption Fund you can email us at COVID19BusinessFund@rbkc.gov.uk.

Businesses in RBKC Commercial premises

The Council has decided to suspend rent invoicing for three months on storage units we own and let, with effect from Monday 30 March 2020. This means that we will not be issuing the normal invoices, which would have been issued to start in April 2020.  All invoices have been suspended for the time being. We have written to storage unit holders to inform them and you should receive your letter in the coming days.

We will continue to monitor the situation and review this rent suspension after the three months, after which rent for this period may be charged at a later date. For those storage unit holders with ongoing and outstanding rent, you will be contacted about that directly.

We are still here to support and assist you. If you have any concerns please contact us by email on street.trading@rbkc.gov.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you are renting a commercial property from the Council, we have written to you to inform you that the Council has decided to suspend rent for three months on commercial premises we own and let, with immediate effect. This means that we will not be issuing the normal quarterly demand for rent from March. All bills have been suspended for the time being subject to review after the three month period, after which rent for this period may be charged at a later date.

If you have any questions about this, please do get in touch by email propertyinformation@rbkc.gov.uk

 Commercial Waste

In order to further assist small and large businesses during this difficult time, the Council has decided to suspend all invoices for commercial waste services for the next three months. This means that we will not be issuing the normal quarterly invoices for the April-June period. All invoices have been suspended for the time being. We have written to commercial waste service users to inform them and you should have received your letter confirming this. If not, please get in touch via the email below.

Additionally, in accordance with Government policy to resist the spread of the virus we will not be making site visits, deliveries, arranging face to face meetings or any other unnecessary contact save in an emergency.

We are still here to support and assist you. If you have any concerns, please contact us by email on commercial.waste@rbkc.gov.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Information from other agencies and trade organisations

The London Growth Hub

The London Growth Hub’s team of business advisers can help you create a plan of action and provide a gateway into the vital resources, support and initiatives needed to sustain your business through this challenging period.

Get support and request a free meeting through their website.

The London Growth Hub is an initiative of LEAP, London's local enterprise partnership and is supported by the Mayor of London and HM Government.

Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce

Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, are putting together a range of different activities and webinars with their expert panels to help answer your questions. 

Visit the Kensington and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce website to see what events are planned.

Westway Trust

Westway Trust have been in touch with all their business tenants with help advice and support. Westway are also working closely with Age UK, the Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea, the council and other groups to see how we can best support vulnerable people in the area.

For further information visit Westway Trust COVID-19 webpages.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

FSB has created a very useful hub that answers questions for small businessess. Visit the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) website for more information.

RBKC libraries

RBKC libraries are still providing valuable and useful online business information to help you get information to support your research and development functions, plus your marketing programmes. 

Our libraries offer many free online resources that can be accessed via the libraries webpages.

RBKC funded support from the Portobello Business Centre (PBC)

If you need business advice you can book a telephone call/meeting with one of PBC’s business advisors. You will also be able to book a Skype call so there is no need to attend at their office. Please call on: 020 7460 5050 to discuss, or visit the Portobello Business Centre website.

RBKC Supply Chain

The RBKC Supply Chain will continue to offer the following services during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as brokering opportunities with buyers as and when they arise, critical review of any tenders by a tendering specialist prior to submission.  More information about the project can be found at the RBKC Supply Chain website, or contact:

David McAlpine
Director
MTW Consultants Ltd
Tel: 07891 165 207
Email david@mtwconsultants.co.uk

Traders and council run markets

The Council will not be accepting any new applications for trading on Portobello Road and Golborne Road market. If you are a permanent trader your rent will be waived for 12 weeks from 6 April 2020 and will be reviewed in June 2020.  If you are a temporary trader, the Council is not expecting you to trade to maintain your attendance record. This will be placed on hold for the foreseeable future.   

The Council has also made changes to how markets operate in line with social distancing guidance from the Government. Only food stalls (fruit and veg, fishmongers etc) as well as household goods (cleaning products etc) will operate.  

The reduced number of stalls will be spaced out at a two-market stall gap between them to encourage social distancing. 

If you have a specific street trading question email us at: street.trading@rbkc.gov.uk or call us on tel: 020 7727 7684. 


Information for food businesses

Food businesses being temporary takeaway only

The Government has announced that all food businesses, including pubs, restaurants and cafes should close to the public to prevent large groups of people gathering and spreading the virus. 

However, the Government is introducing changes to planning legislation to allow pubs and restaurants to be used as hot food takeaways without requiring planning permission, for a temporary period of up to 12 months only, in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Businesses will be required to tell us when the new use begins and ends which you can do by contacting planning@rbkc.gov.uk.
More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Food deliveries

We have also been advised by the Government not to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period.

Read the full copy of this Statement for more information.

As a food business operator, we appreciate you may have some concerns, however, there is currently no evidence that you can catch Coronavirus from food.

It is important that you ensure that food is protected from contamination, so it is good practice to cover open food and wash fresh fruit and vegetables.

You should follow the government advice on the GOV.UK website if you or any of your staff have travelled. If you or your staff are feeling unwell then you need to visit the NHS 111 Online website for advice on what to do.

If you offer any shisha pipes at your establishment, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic situation you should consider ceasing this service for the time being. If you do provide this service, then you must ensure that you provide clean/sanitised equipment and sharing of equipment must be avoided at all times.

If you have any concerns or questions, you should check the latest government advice or go to Public Health England’s FAQs on the virus. There is also further guidance on the NHS website.

A free e-learning course on COVID-19 is available on the Highfield Training website. For details of other e-learning opportunities visit the E-learning webpage, If you have specific food safety or health and safety questions please email us at: environmentalhealth@rbkc.gov.uk, or call us on tel: 020 7361 3002.

Pest Control

In these difficult times RBKC Pest control can be called upon to assist with any pest issues you may have or for general advice. If your food business is not operating presently you must ensure that any perishable food and waste refuse has been disposed of and the premises is clean to ensure you do not get any pest infestations or odour issues. 

Our Pest Control Officers can give advice and ensure your premises are adequately proofed and pest free. Similarly if you are still open and providing takeaway food or you are an essential food retailer and your pest control contractor is unable to carry out an inspection we can be contacted and would be happy to help.  Please call us on 020 7341 5773.   

 What you need to know about Coronavirus and food

It is very unlikely that you can catch Coronavirus from food. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging. However everyone should maintain good hygiene practice.
Find out the Government’s latest information and advice on all aspects of food preparation and storage, including food hygiene, packing and disposal on the GOV.UK website.


Trading standards

Pricing and price marking

Businesses still have a responsibility to comply with the law when selling goods. All goods should have a price on or associated with them so that customers can determine the price they will be expected to pay for an item without having to ask.

We are asking residents to report any instances of excessive charging or businesses not displaying pricing to trading.standards@rbkc.gov.uk. We are looking at our options under current legislation to address this kind of abuse but will also report this to Government to make a case for emergency legislation to tackle this.


Support for arts and culture businesses and self employed

Financial Support 

The Creative Workspace Resilience Fund

£1.5m fund to help studio and creative workspace providers support artists and makers. Deadline 4pm, Wednesday 20 May 2020. Visit the Creative Land Trust website for information.

The Esmée Fairbairn Sustaining Engagement with Collections Fund

£350,000 to support 12-15 organisations to explore different ways of engaging with museum or gallery collections. Offering grants of up to £30,000 for projects of up to a year. Deadline 5pm, Tuesday 26 May 2020. Visit the Museums Association website for information.

Film and TV Charity Community Grants

Offering small grants between £150 - £1,000 for those who work in film or TV or cinema to produce an activity to support colleagues in the industry during the crisis. Deadline 6pm,  Monday 1 June 2020. Visit the Film and TV Charity website for more information.

Freelands Foundation Emergency Fund

£1 million fund for freelance creative practitioners experiencing financial hardship, providing grants of £1,500 to £2,500. Deadline 2pm, Thursday 18 June 2020. Visit the Freelands Foundation website for more information.

The Authors Emergency Fund

Awarding grants of up to £2,000 to UK professional authors and writers. Visit The Society of Authors website for more information.

Advice and Guidance

GLA Culture at Risk

Register your details with the Mayor’s Culture at Risk Office, to shape and improve their service at this time, and for updates on the newest resources and guidance available. Visit the GLA Culture at Risk website.

Equity

The union for performers and creative practitioners provides a briefing on sector and state financial support. Visit the Equity website.

Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance

Wealth of useful information, online training, listings and links from this cultural sector support organisation, funded by Arts Council England. Visit the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance website.

MARCH Network

Resources and platform for home-based, creative ways to support mental health. Visit the MARCH Network website.

Arts Professional

Includes guidance on digital tools for homeworking, moving work online, and listings for funds and support. Visit the Arts Professional website.

Voluntary Arts #CreativeNetwork

Daily digital gatherings for those working in the creative sector. Visit the Voluntary Arts website.

Arts Council Tech Champions

Digital support to organisations navigating moving work online. Visit the Arts Council Tech Champions website.