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

Employer incentives for hiring new apprenticesAs part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, employers will receive £2,000 for each new apprentice aged under 25 they hire, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up to the 31st January 2021. Any organisation can apply for the payment, no matter the size or the sector.

Visit the Governments website for more information about Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice.

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.


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.


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.


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 Council-owned Commercial premises

If you are a business renting a commercial property from the Council, we have written to you to inform you of your position following review of the rent pause for the March quarter on premises we own and let.

Businesses that have continued to trade will have billing resumed for the June quarter and will be billed for the March quarter, payable by September 2020. Those that are reopening will be billed for the June quarter and have a payment plan set up for the March quarter, and those that are still closed will not have to resume payment in the June quarter but may have to start repaying in September 2020, subject to a review.

Businesses which are to begin repaying rents will be able to make monthly instalments to ease cashflow, which can be arranged with the Council. We are here to support and help you as we emerge from lockdown restrictions.

If you have any questions about this, please email us at:

Commercial Waste Services

In order to assist small and large businesses emerging from lockdown, the Council has not billed customers for commercial waste services for the April-June period. Invoices for the July-September 2020 period were issued on 1 July and businesses that are currently closed but plan to reopen in the next couple of months can work with the Council to discuss invoicing for when they resume operation. 

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

Council 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
MTW Consultants Ltd
Tel: 07891 165 207

Traders and council run markets

The Council will not be accepting any new applications for trading on Portobello Road and Golborne Road market at this time to maintain social distancing and, due to ongoing gas mains replacement work, space is currently limited.

If you are a permanent trader your rent will be waived if you have not yet returned to work. If you are working then you will be charged the fee for each week and invoices will be issued for site fee collection from 7 September 2020, subject to the current situation regarding the easing of lockdown rules continuing. Temporary and casual traders have been slowly returning to the markets but if you are a temporary trader and have not returned to trade, the Council is not expecting you to trade to maintain your attendance record. A cut off time for the waiving of attendance records will be announced at the beginning of September 2020. 

The Council has also made changes to how markets operate in line with social distancing guidance from the Government. All traders are now able to operate and have been contacted to establish when they want to trade. Each trader must consider how they can mitigate the transmission of Covid-19, by following safety recommendations including wearing face masks, using gloves and minimising the use of cash.

The reduced number of stalls will be spaced out at an one-market stall gap between them or side to side with appropriate use of back tarpaulins to create breaks between traders and pedestrians to encourage social distancing. This is continually under review and consideration.

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

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.

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.

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
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:, 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 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.


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.