COVID-19: 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.
From Monday 17 May, Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown will see further easing of Covid-19 restrictions, including reopening of indoor hospitality, leisure, entertainment, and overnight accommodation venues. Limits on numbers of people allowed to mix will also be eased, with gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors and six people or two households indoors being allowed.
On this page you can find details of available grants, financial and operational support.
Funding through grants and other financial support
- Business rates relief extended
We want to remind businesses that the government has extended the business rates discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. This means that the rates relief will now run for one additional year from April 2021 to March 2022.
Businesses that were in receipt of the relief last year are still eligible for this year, but can choose not to take it or ask for a reduced amount if they wish to do so. Those who are eligible are being contacted directly to complete an online form to confirm their decision.
New Applications for Expanded Retail Discount
If you have not previously applied for this discount you will need to apply.
The Council will soon open applications for 2021/22. Information on how to apply will be made available in coming weeks. Please contact email@example.com to register your interest and we will email you once the application goes live.
The retail relief scheme for 2021/22 covers two periods.
The first period, 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021, is a continuation of the scheme for 2020/21 at 100 per cent relief. For the period 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 a further scheme is then in place for a maximum of 66 per cent discount.
If you're eligible, you could get:
- 100% discount for the first 3 months of the 2021 to 2022 tax year (1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021)
- up to a maximum 66% discount for the rest of the 2021 to 2022 tax year (1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022)
The amount of relief that you can receive for the period 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 will be capped at:
- £2 million if your business was required to close on 5 January 2021 due to the national lockdown
- £105,000 if your business was allowed to remain open from 5 January 2021.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 'Restart’ grants
Applications for the 'Restart' grants have now closed.
- National Lockdown Restrictions grants - now closed
Applications for the National Lockdown Restrictions grants for the period 16 February – 31 March have now closed. Payments are now being processed and awarded to those eligible businesses.
- Funding for employers through the Kickstart scheme
The Government’s new Kickstart scheme, under its Plan for Jobs, provides funding for businesses to create job opportunities for young people aged 16-24. Employers taking part in the scheme receive £1,500 for each new person they hire to cover the cost for necessary support and training. In addition, the cost of national minimum wage payments, National Insurance, and pension contributions will be covered by the Government for the first six months. Kickstart job placements should be for high quality job placements within a business providing at least 25 hours per week. Any organisation can apply for the scheme, no matter the size or the sector. Those offering more than 30 placements can apply for funding directly with the Government and those offering less can do so through an intermediary.
The Council is an intermediary and working with partners to support local businesses to apply for the Kickstart scheme so if you would like to learn more please contact Albena Karameros at email@example.com
- 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.
- Financial support
On 31 October 2020, after announcing the planned national lockdown from Thursday 5 November to Wednesday 2 December, the Government also announced an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and further financial support.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough Scheme)
The scheme, often referred to as the Furlough Scheme, allows employers who have been forced to close their business during lockdown to pay up to 80 per cent of their employees’ wages through the Government.
Initially planned to close at the end of October, the Furlough Scheme has been extended to March 2021, to support those during the national lockdown from Thursday 5 November 2020 and throughout the winter months.
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 per cent 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 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.
Loan terms will be up to six years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The Government will work with a network of accredited lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.
You can see if you are eligible and start an application on the Government 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.
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.
- 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 COVID-19. You must make your claim on or before 30 September 2021. You can find out how much you’re eligible for and apply on the GOV.UK website.
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 or the new style Employment and Support Allowance.
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.
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 will be in contact with you to discuss payments for the previous quarter and your current circumstances. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Commercial Waste Services
We know many business operations are impacted by Covid-19 and your waste collection requirements may now be different. If you are still operating and receiving a commercial waste collection you will be invoiced as normal. If you are not operating or require changes to your contract, please contact us by email on email@example.com 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 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:
MTW Consultants Ltd
Tel: 07891 165 207
- Traders and council run markets
Under national lockdown rules all markets in the borough will only be able to operate with stalls trading essential items such as food and household goods.
The Council will not be accepting any new applications for trading on Portobello Road and Golborne Road market at this time.
The Council has taken steps to ensure markets operate in line with social distancing guidance from the Government. All traders need to operate to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, by following safety recommendations including managing queues, wearing face masks, using gloves and minimising the use of cash.
The reduced number of stalls will need to ensure pedestrian flow and that queues are not blocking areas. Traders will be asked to have side and back tarpaulins to create breaks between traders and pedestrians to encourage social distancing. This is continually monitored, with advice and guidance being given to traders to ensure they can operate safely.
If you have a specific street trading question email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on tel: 020 7727 7684.
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.
- 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 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 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.
- 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.
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: email@example.com, 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Resources and platform for home-based, creative ways to support mental health. Visit the MARCH Network website.
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.