COVID-19 Information - Business Durham
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Guidance to employers and businesses about COVID 19

Please make sure you're following our social media accounts for advice and information on support as it becomes available:

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Cllr Carl Marshall has written to all businesses to assure them of our commitment to do everything possible, as quickly as possible, to support businesses and workers who are impacted.

We have recently completed processing all the business rate reliefs and revised bills have been issued to help provide support to our local businesses. We have also agreed to postpone debt recovery action for anyone in council tax or business rates arrears, pay suppliers immediately and, through Digital Drive County Durham, fast track 40% funding for businesses to purchase technology supporting home working.

We are now processing and making payments through the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. Qualifying businesses will receive grants of £10,000 or £25,000 from us, depending on their circumstances. Go to our Covid 19 - apply for a Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund page to check your eligibility and complete the online form so that payment can be made into your account as quickly as possible. Our staff are processing applications to ensure payments are checked, processed and paid quickly. You will receive a confirmation once payment has been processed and made direct to your bank account.

Information on Supplier Relief Assistance for our contracted suppliers and supplier invoicing arrangements.

We will continue to act on guidance and disseminate information as soon as we receive it through all our communications channels including social media and the daily email newsletter from Business Durham.

The links below provide a range of information on national measures, guidance for businesses and employers, local business support organisations, and finance.

Update 7th April 2020

Job Retention Scheme - furloughed workers

Check if your employer can use the scheme, if you’re eligible and how much your employer can claim - click here.

Apprenticeships - The government has published a document with guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) - find out more here.


Update 6th April 2020

Relaxation of rules to support business - The Government has relaxed rules and regulations to help businesses handle any disruption they are experiencing due to coronavirus (COVID-19) - more info here.

Pay it forward campaign - The Business Support campaign is working with Crowdfunder to build awareness about the support provided to small businesses through the Pay it Forward campaign. Small businesses can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign to pre-sell their services and diversify trading - more info here.

£20 million funding for ambitious technologies - Businesses that can help boost the UK’s resilience to the long-term impact of coronavirus and similar future situations, can access grants of up to £50,000 from  £20 million government funding. More info here.

UK RI (UK Research & Innovation) Funding - Keep up to date with the work of UKRI in response to the crisis, including grants, awards and call to fund ideas. More info here.


Update 3rd April 2020

Council Tax 

There are a range of options available, including spreading payments evenly over 12 months or starting payments from June instead of April. To apply, see Postpone your council tax payments

We have postponed debt recovery across several areas, including Council Tax and Business Rates. If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax because you are affected by the coronavirus, please contact us on 03000 26 4000 or email

Estate agents and letting agents will now be exempt from Council Tax.


The Government has taken further action to support firms affected by the coronavirus crisis by bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses and announcing a new scheme for larger companies.

Extended Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 

The Government has extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. 

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.

Please find further details here:

New Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

The new CLBILS will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. 

Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest and further details of the scheme will be announced later this month.


Update 2 April 2020

HMRC are delivering webinars on the measures available to support employers, employees and the self-employed.  Watch the first webinar & register for future webinars.

Update 1 April

You can currently postpone your business rate payments - to apply see Postpone your business rate payments if you have been impacted by coronavirus.


Update 30 March 2020

Update 29 March 2020

A service has been launched to help businesses support the response to coronavirus - if your business can help complete the form. Support needed includes:

  • medical testing equipment
  • medical equipment design
  • protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • hotel rooms
  • transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • manufacturing equipment
  • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • social care or childcare


Update 27th March 2020

Further details of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme announced

Click here

New advice to support mental health during coronavirus outbreak

People struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will be offered additional online support and practical guidance to help them cope.
Click here


COVID-19: guidance for staff in the transport sector

Guidance on COVID-19, including general precautions for staff and guidance on the assessment and management of arrivals into the UK.

Click here

Update 26 March 2020

Measures to support the self-employed

The Government has today announced measures to support the self-employed. Introduction of the ‘Self-employed income support scheme’ which will:

  • Pay the self-employed adversely affected a taxable grant of 80% of average profits over the past three years 
  • Up to £2,500 per month for a period 3 over months
  • Available to anyone with trading profits of up to £50,000

Key information

  •  The self-employed can claim grants and continue to work
  •  The majority of income must be through self-employment
  •  Must have a tax return for 2019 to apply
  •  HMRC expect the scheme to be operating from June
  • HMRC will contact eligible directly requesting completion of an online form
  •  Grants will be paid directly into bank accounts
  • Those who missed the tax return deadline have four weeks from the 26th of March to file return
  •  Self-assessment tax payments can be deferred until January next year

Other information

  • Self-employed people can apply for the Business Interruption Loans
  •  Self-employed people can access Universal Credit

Click here for more information


Update 25 March 2020

Grant Fund Payments

We received government guidance on these schemes late on 23 March and are now processing payments under the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant Fund.  Qualifying businesses will receive grants of £10,000 or £25,000 from Durham County Council depending on their circumstances. Businesses that do not have a business premises or do not meet the criteria laid down are not eligible to receive a grant under these schemes.

If you/your business has received a letter or email from us to confirm that you are eligible, we now need to collect information to process the payments in line with Government guidelines – including your bank details in order to make the payment by bank transfer.  Please complete the electronic form as soon as possible.  Once your eligibility is confirmed, we will process your payments as soon as we receive these details and you will receive payment in a matter of days.

Please click here to access the Grant Fund payment form.

To check your eligibility for these grants, please:

Click here to check eligibility for small business grant funding.

Click here to check eligibility for retail and hospitality cash grants.

If you require assistance in completing the form please contact Revenues and Benefits on 03000 268 997 or email 

Under these schemes, the Council expects to pay grants totalling around £77 million under the Small Business Grant Fund, where qualifying businesses will receive a grant of £10,000, and around £12 million under the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant Fund, where qualifying businesses will receive a grant of £25,000.  

We are working hard to make these payments to businesses as quickly as possible.  To do this, we need the information we have been asked to collect as part of this process and guidelines – please help us to help you, by looking out for your letter or email confirming that you qualify and completing the form above.

Update Tuesday 24 March 2020

A new Corona Virus website has been launched offering detailed guidance to businesses and the self employed. 

Click here to access

Key measures include:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
Click here 

Deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. 

Click here

HMRC Time to Pay

HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. 
Click here

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme 

A new temporary scheme, with details of accredited banks on the British Business Bank website, has been launched to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

Click here 

Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. 
Click here

Cash grant for retail, hospitality and leisure

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, you will receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.
Businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
The Government published the guidance on how these schemes will work on 23 March and expects Councils to make payments at or around 1 April. Durham County Council is working hard to adopt this guidance and start to process payments as soon as it can and in advance of 1 April if possible.

Click here

COVID 19 Corporate Financing Facility

The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies.

Click here

Income tax deferral for the self-employed

If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

Click here

Statutory Sick Pay rebate

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus. This refund will cover up to 2 weeksí SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.

Click here

Business Rates holiday for nurseries

Nurseries in England do not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.

Click here

Other FAQs

Click here


Notices to exporters

The Department for International Tradeís Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has issued two Notices to Exporters concerning the impact on training and licensing activities. For general export control queries please contact ECJUís Helpline on 020 7215 4594 or

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector

The Charity Commission have produced guidance to help running your charity during the outbreak.

Click here

Support and Advice for Business

As a council, we fully appreciate the concerns of businesses across the county at this very difficult time.  While the Chancellor’s announcement about how the government will support business is very welcome and much needed, we do not yet have the detail.  As a council we are using all our available channels to press for answers from the government and are committed to making this information available as soon as we receive it; in a practical and useable way.  

We are here to give advice and support to all County Durham businesses, large and small.  As a council, we have recently agreed to pay suppliers immediately and, through Digital Drive County Durham, fast track 40% funding for businesses to purchase technology supporting home working.  

We will continue to disseminate information as we receive it through all our communications channels including social media and the daily email newsletter from Business Durham.

National Business Support Helpline

Phone: 0300 4563565



FSB Advice

FSB information for small businesses and the self employed

Click here


Local Support 

Supporting businesses to adopt the digital tech to support home working Digital Drive 

Up to 40% funding available to help businesses purchase digital equipment and consultancy to enable them to work remotely.

Never before has it been more important for businesses to have the ability to work remotely than it is right now.  Businesses across the globe are currently seeking to ensure they have the tools and infrastructure in place to be resilient during some potentially testing times.  

If you are considering purchasing equipment and expertise to help you with remote working then Digital Drive County Durham may be able to help with up to 40% of your costs.  This can cover:

• Laptops

• Mobile devices

• Cloud based software

• Consultancy

Our new Fast Track application process can help to have your project approved and completed as quickly as we possibly can to enable you to start remote working right away. 

Please give us a call on 07443 247648 or visit our website to find out more and to check your eligibility. 


North East Growth Hub Covid19 Toolkit

Click here

Employment rights and advocacy (ACAS)

Employers should consider some simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff.


Read: Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees 


Banks and finance

Barclays, Santander, Virgin Money, and TSB have announced they will be offering payment holidays for loans and mortgages to help businesses and individuals affected by coronavirus.


Barclays has launched a free telephone helpline offering support and information to its business banking customers. It is also providing repayment holidays.

Read: Coronavirus: frequently asked questions  


Lloyds has launched a £2 billion package to help minimise disruption to business operations. Support includes repayment holidays, and no arrangement fees for new or increased overdrafts, invoice discounting and finance facilities. 

Read: Lloyds Banking Group ready to support UK small businesses impacted by COVID-19 


NatWest has announced a £5 billion fund to support small and medium-sized firms to deal with the impact of coronavirus. Support includes the provision of working capital, loan repayment holidays and temporary emergency loans with no fees. 

Read: NatWest pledges £5bn Working Capital Support for SMEs during Coronavirus outbreak  


Santander has outlined the support it is offering to customers impacted by coronavirus. Support includes a helpline and advice on managing finances.

Read: Santander business 

Business support organisations

Department of International Trade  

Federation of Small Businesses 

Engineering Manufacturing Network 

Make UK (manufacturing)

North East England Chamber of Commerce