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

Support for businesses and the self-employed 

This page provides information on the support, guidance, advice and financial support available for businesses and self-employed people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and as lockdown eases. As further Government announcements are made and measures introduced, this page is regularly updated to ensure you have the key information you need. 

We have also published guidance for reopening your business and we are here to support you and the local economy.

HM Government support for businesses and the self-employed

Local Authority Discretionary FundIn response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Government has announced further funding for small businesses through the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund.

The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund is aimed at small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund, provided by Government.

Please note that all applicants will need to demonstrate significant fixed and ongoing premises related costs and also be required to evidence a significant impact to their trading as a direct result of COVID-19. 

A very high volume of applications is expected, while only a few hundred grants can be awarded from the £2.2m fund. There are thousands of Kensington and Chelsea businesses which have not been eligible for previous Government grants. Given the amount of funding available, grants will only be awarded to businesses who submit all of the information and documentation requested, who meet all the stated criteria, including demonstrating significant impact/hardship as a result of Covid-19. 

Businesses must apply to the Council with information about their business and evidence relating to the eligibility criteria set out by Government and the Council. Please ensure you understand and meet the eligibility criteria below before submitting an application. We will not be able to seek clarifications or additional information from an applicant once an application has been submitted. 

Due to the volume of applications anticipated and the discretionary nature of the fund there will be no appeals process, which is in line with the Government’s conditions of the funding.

In the highly unlikely event that any of the Government funding remains once applications have closed, the Council will amend the eligibility criteria and invite other businesses to apply.

Maximum Grant Amounts

The maximum grant to be provided will be £10,000 to ensure wide distribution to local businesses. The table below lists the maximum grant amounts available for each group:

Sector/groupMax. grant
a) Retail, Leisure and Hospitality businesses (RV between £51-65,000)£10,000
b) Small Business Rate businesses (RV<£51,000)£5,000
c) Charities (RV<£51,000)£5,000
d) Other businesses (RV<£51,000)£5,000
e) Bed and Breakfast providers£2,500
f) Shared office space users£2,500
g) Market Traders£2,500

If your business has already been awarded a Business Interruption Fund grant of £2,500 or £5,000 from the Council, you could still apply for a Discretionary Grant from this scheme. If you are successful, the final amount awarded will be reduced by the Business Interruption Fund amount already awarded. 

Eligible Businesses

In line with Government guidance and Council objectives, grants are prioritised for certain eligible business groups.

Businesses registered for business rates need to fall into one of the following categories:  

  • Retail, Leisure or Hospitality premises where their rateable value is between £51,000 and £64,999  
  • Small Business Rate businesses where their rateable value is below £51,000
  • Charities occupying premises where their rateable value is below £51,000
  • Other commercial premises where their rateable value is below £51,000

Businesses that are NOT registered for business rates need to fall into one of the following categories:

  • Users of shared office space. The business must be non-transient and exclusively using the workspace, with liabilities for occupancy (lease, license, contract etc) of at least four weeks, inclusive of 11 March 2020.
  • Permanent Market traders (Council and private markets/arcades)
  • Bed and Breakfast property that is registered for Council Tax. Properties that are registered as Houses of Multiple Occupation will not be eligible for funding. The premises must be wholly or mainly used as guest or boarding premises, providing at least one meal per day, included within the price. Spare room, short-term lets and ‘Air BnB’ style accommodation do not qualify for a grant.
  • Charity with no business rates account but who do have premises-related costs.

Businesses not eligible for the Local Authority Discretionary Fund 

  • Businesses eligible for or in receipt of other government support which includes:
    • Small Business Grant (Small Business Rates Relief)
    • Retail, Hospitality or Leisure Grant
    • The Fisheries Response Fund
    • Domestic Seafood Supply Fund
    • The Zoos Support Fund
    • The Dairy Hardship Fund
  • Offices or workspaces within domestic dwellings (e.g. home offices)
  • Casual traders 
  • Traders with more than two months’ fees in arrears 
  • Companies that are in administration, are insolvent, or where a striking-off notice has been made
  • Businesses that do not occupy commercial property (i.e. you work from a home office)
  • Businesses that have exceeded state aid limits, i.e. have received more than €200,000 in Government funds / support over the last three years
  • Businesses with significant reserves
  • Businesses that do not pay all, or the bulk of business taxes in the UK, such as those with offshore accounts

Eligibility Criteria

  • The grant is aimed at small and micro businesses, so the annual turnover must not exceed £10.2m and the balance sheet must not exceed £5.1m for small businesses and turnover does not exceed £632,000 and balance sheet does not exceed £316,000 for micro-businesses.
  • Businesses that were trading on 11 March 20 and are still trading (i.e. solvent, not in administration)
  • Businesses that can demonstrate a significant fall in income (at least 50%) due to COVID19 crisis.
  • Businesses that can demonstrate value/contribution to the local economy (including local employment) and other related factors, including commitment/support for London Living Wage.
  • Businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs which is relatively high, but below £51,000 per year. (e.g. annual rent, or annual mortgage payments).

Evidence required

  • Your business rate account number (if you are liable for business rates)
  • Your company registration number, VAT registration number, charity number or Unique Taxpayer Reference number (self-employed) where applicable
  • A copy of your latest accounts/tax return/management accounts, including turnover and profit and loss
  • A copy of your most recent business bank statement
  • A copy of your rental agreement/mortgage statement to show your premises-related costs
  • Proof of the significant reduction in income your business has suffered since lockdown/COVID-19
  • Proof of value/contribution to local economy (including local employment) and other related factors including commitment/support for London Living Wage
  • Proof that your business is still trading, such as recent invoices, marketing evidence, or social media posts
  • Where applicable, market traders licence (market traders), Council Tax bill (Bed and Breakfast providers)

Every application and its supporting evidence will be rigorously checked for eligibility. Speculative, false or fraudulent applications will be rejected. 

We expect these grants to be greatly oversubscribed and the funds exhausted before we are able to seek any clarifications from applicants. Therefore, incomplete applications and applications without clear evidence will also be rejected.

It is critical that you read and ensure you understand the criteria and guidance above before submitting an application.

How to apply 

Use this form if you are a business that pays business rates

Start

Use this form if you are a business or organisation that does not pay business rates

Start

Following the launch of the Discretionary Grant Fund on Monday 22 June, we have received a number of applications from local businesses which are now being reviewed. We recognise that a number of businesses have yet to reopen or are just beginning to start trading again. To support as many businesses as possible, we are opening up applications for a further two weeks and we would encourage any business whose trading has been impacted by Covid-19 to submit an application if you meet the criteria above.

Applications will be open until Friday 24 July 2020.

If you have any queries about the Fund, you can contact us at covid19discgrantfund@rbkc.gov.uk.

After you apply

Decisions are expected to be made within 2 weeks of the application deadline and successful applicants will be contacted to arrange payment. We regret that due to limited resources and capacity, we are unable to contact unsuccessful applicants so if you haven’t heard from us 4 weeks after the application closing date you can assume that you have been unsuccessful.

Provision of grant funding to any business will be conditional on the recipient confirming that the funding will be used to meet essential premises related business costs, to support re-opening and return to trading and to support the local economy and employment. 

Business rates and associated grants

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 schemeThe 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-employedThe 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

Businesses in RBKC Commercial premisesThe 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 WasteIn 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.

LibrariesLibraries 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 ChainThe 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 marketsThe 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 onlyThe 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 deliveriesWe 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 ControlIn 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 foodIt 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 markingBusinesses 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.