Please visit our COVID-19 recovery page for the latest news as the process in moving from lockdown begins.
Please make sure you're following our social media accounts for advice and information on support as it becomes available:
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.
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.
£5 million support for small businesses
The government has allocated additional funding to develop a local grant scheme to help specific businesses who have not be able to access previous schemes. Your business may be eligible - click here to find out more
The government provided two updates on schemes designed to support businesses.
More information can be found here
NHS Test and Trace - launch
The NHS Test and Trace service begins from 28th May, an overview of the service has been provided with workplace guidance for employers and businesses.
Working safely during coronavirus
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are hosting webinars about making workplaces coronavirus secure.
Guidance for businesses to make them as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic is also available here
• Vehicles – Thursday 28 May 3pm
• Construction and other outdoor work – Monday 01 June 11am
• Labs and research facilities – Monday 01 June 3pm
• Offices and contact centres – Tuesday 02 June 11am
• Homes – Tuesday 02 June 11am
Recordings of previous webinars are available here
Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
Employers can find out if they can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
Webinar - Working safely during coronavirus: Shops and branches
There is a free webinar, hosted by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on Thursday 28 May, 11am: Shops and branches – Guidance for people who run shops, branches, stores or similar environments. Full details of upcoming webinars click here
Reopening High Streets Safely Fund
The government has announced a new £50 million fund for councils to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces.
Government launches £40 million Clean Growth Fund to support green start-ups
The Clean Growth Fund is a venture capital vehicle to accelerate early-stage green businesses. It will be accessible to UK-based companies driving green technology across the power, transport, waste, and building energy efficiency sectors.
Working safely webinars
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are hosting a series of free webinars to help businesses make their workplace COVID-secure.
The webinars cover a range of types of workplace settings that are allowed to be open. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles therefore businesses may need to use more than one of the webinars as they prepare. Webinars start from Wednesday 27th May and will run until Tuesday 2nd June - more details and sign up https://bit.ly/BEISWebinars
Legislation to relieve burden on businesses and support recovery
The government has introduced the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Bill in Parliament. This will put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to support business to address the challenges resulting from the impact of coronavirus. The Bill consists of six insolvency measures and two corporate governance measures.
Pick for Britain
The Environment Secretary has launched a new ‘Pick for Britain’ website to help address the fact that we are likely to only have about a third of our normal labour force for this year's harvest. Opportunities are available across the UK for those seeking a second job, particularly those that are furloughed.
Free Skills Toolkit
The Skills Toolkit is made up of free online courses, tools and resources to help improve digital and numeracy skills. Delivered by the Department for Education and National Careers Service, individuals can select from a range of digital topics and skill levels from introductory to advanced.
The Future Fund is now open for loan applications by UK-based companies. This scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Future Fund was developed by the government and is being delivered by the British Business Bank.
Innovative businesses and start-ups
The government has announced it is investing an additional £20 million in the Fast Start Competition. The competition aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis. The Fast Start Competition was launched in April in response to the outbreak and is being managed by Innovate UK.
Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme
Employers will be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. This scheme allows small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP. Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26 May. They will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.
Larger businesses - loans of up to £200 million
The government has announced an extension to the maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) from £50 million to £200 million. Loans under the expanded scheme will be made available to large businesses affected by coronavirus from 26 May.
Business Grant Fund Scheme
On 1 May 2020, the government informed local authorities in England that additional funding was to be provided to extend the Business Rates Grant scheme. We have now received guidance on eligibility and who will benefit from this scheme.
The allocation to County Durham is only around £5m and the Government have stated that these grants should be primarily and predominantly aimed at:
Local authorities have been asked to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding pot:
This grant funding is for businesses that have not been supported through the current schemes and who are not eligible for other Government support schemes. It does not cover businesses operating from a home address and businesses that are eligible for cash grants from any central government COVID-related scheme are ineligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund. Such grant schemes include, but are not limited to:
Businesses who have accessed support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) are eligible.
If you are self-employed or a business, the business support finder https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder will help find the schemes available to offer financial support.
Updated guidance - employers and businesses
The government has updated guidance for employers and businesses. It will help employers and businesses provide advice to their staff on coronavirus COVID-19, how to help prevent spread of COVID-19, what to do if someone has symptoms of COVID-19 has been in business settings and eligibility for sick pay. It also provides details of the financial support available to businesses.
Holiday entitlement and pay
Government guidance has been published outlining how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations towards:
Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) - now open
Applications for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme have opened today. Those eligible will receive a government grant worth up to £7,500 and money is expected to be in bank accounts by 25 May. Self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits.
The government has announced that taskforces have been set up to lead the development of new COVID-19 secure guidelines for the reopening of public places and businesses, where and when it is safe to do so.
Click for more
Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Government has published guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Eight guides cover a range of different types of work.
Job Retention Scheme (furlough) - guide for employers
The Government has updated their guidance on the ‘Job Retention Scheme’ (furlough) and provided a step by step guide for employers, explaining the information that employers need to provide to claim for their employees’ wages.
The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy
The Government published a document, ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’. This is the Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis. The document highlights that COVID-19 Secure guidelines are due to be published this week.
Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do
The Government has published staying safe outside your home guidance on what the new rules will mean with FAQs to inform the public and help prepare for the changes. These changes will take effect on Wednesday 13 May.
A new fund has been announced enabling eligible dairy farmers in England to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible to access this funding for those qualifying months, with no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support or on the total funding available. We will provide further updates when details become available.
On 1 May, the government announced that a further £617 million will be made available nationally to Local Authorities to help small businesses impacted by coronavirus. This is an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).
This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Local authorities have been asked to prioritise:
Alongside other local authorities, we have lobbied for this approach and welcome the announcement. We don’t have details on how this scheme will work and if there will be any exclusions. Therefore we are currently unable to offer advice or make payments. However, our teams are working to identify businesses that could be eligible and will update this website once government guidance becomes available.
Bounce Back Loans
From Monday 4 May, small businesses can apply to accredited lenders for a Bounce Back Loan of £2,000 to £50,000. The government has set up the loan scheme through a simple, online form with seven questions and cash is expected to be paid in days. Features of the loans include: 100% backed for lenders, 2.5% flat interest rate and the government covers the cost of any fees and interest for the borrower in the first 12 months.
Click here for more
You may be eligible for a £10,000 or £25,000 grant
Over £88 million in grants has now been paid out to small businesses in County Durham to help them deal with coronavirus. Almost 8,000 businesses have already received grants of £10,000 or £25,000 to help deal with the impact of coronavirus. These grants do not need to be paid back.
Applying is easy - complete the online form
Small Business Loan Scheme
The Chancellor has announced a new micro loan scheme providing a solution for those in need of smaller loans. Businesses will be able to apply for these new bounce back loans for 25% of their turnover up to a max of £50,000 with the govt paying the interest for the first twelve months. These loans will be available from 9am next Monday. There will be no forward looking tests of business viability or complex eligibility criteria, but a form for businesses to fill in. For most firms loans should arrive within 24hrs of approval, and the govt will guarantee to the lender 100% of the loan.
Click here for more
Updated guidance on testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) is available athttps://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested and there is a self-referral portal for essential workers https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/
Mobile testing for COVID-19 is being conducted at Bishop Auckland College from the 26th-28th of April. Further sites will be running around the region, which will be publicised as they are confirmed. The Bishop Auckland College Site is available to all essential workers. Booking your test can be done through employer referral or as a self-referral, both options will allow Bishop Auckland to be selected as the preferred test location.
The mobile testing unit can still accept key workers who have been unable to book online, priority will be given to the care sector.
Business Support Finder Tool
You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants. A new ‘support finder’ tool has been launched to help businesses and self-employed people quickly and easily determine what financial support is available during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fishing and aquaculture fund
A £10 million fund for England's fishing and aquaculture sectors has been announced by the government. Direct cash grants will be available through a fisheries support scheme. Gov.uk: Financial support for England’s fishing businesses
Job Retention Scheme (furlough)
A step by step guide for employers has been published and the scheme is now live with businesses able to claim up to £2,500 a month towards staff wages.
Innovative Companies support package
The government has announced £1.25 billion investment funds for innovative companies.
The support package includes:
• £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis
•£750 million of grants and loans for SMEs focusing on research and development
Government backed loan scheme for large businesses
The government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms with turnover of more than £45m. This complements existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Support and government funding for organisations in education, childcare and children’s social care are available.
The full range of support available to businesses of all sizes through this period are available at: http://bit.ly/2IUD02v
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
The new CLBILS launching on Monday will ensure that more firms can benefit from government-backed support. Firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.
Chancellor extends furlough scheme to end of June
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended by one month to reflect continuing social distancing measures.
Job Retention Scheme (furlough) - the government has announced the eligibility cut-off date is extended to 19 March 2020, this means thousands more workers can be furloughed. The scheme is expected to be fully operational next week.
The government has a new business support website https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support with important links to further information including
The government has provided clarification on the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) to employees and employers including:
Guidance on the scheme is available
Job Retention Scheme (furlough) - an online portal will be open to receive applications from 20 April 2020. First payments are expected to be made by the end of this month. Reports suggest that the demand for the scheme from the private sector was likely to be three times that expected when the scheme was originally announced - click here
Government webinar on this scheme - click here to access the webinar.
Social distancing in the workplace - the government published a set of sector specific guidance notes for social distancing in the workplace. This includes general social distancing guidance that can be accessed here, as well as specific pages on construction, international freight and transport sectors. This also includes guidance for the waste sector where it is not possible to practice social distancing in the workplace, including in vehicle cabs and includes a direct link to the recently published Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Guidance. For more information visit gov.uk and WISH.
Charities - the government has announced £750 million in new funding for the charity sector. This will comprise of £370 million for small, local charities supporting vulnerable people. In England this will be provided by organisations like the National Lotteries Communities Fund. £360 million will also be provided directly to specific charities providing essential services and supporting vulnerable people. For more information click here.
Today the Secretary of State for business, energy and industrial strategy, Alok Sharma sent a letter to those working in manufacturing - click here to read.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
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: https://bit.ly/UpdatedCBILS
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.
HMRC are delivering webinars on the measures available to support employers, employees and the self-employed. Watch the first webinar & register for future webinars.http://bit.ly/HMRCWebinar
You can currently postpone your business rate payments - to apply see Postpone your business rate payments if you have been impacted by coronavirus.
A service has been launched to Gov.uk: help businesses support the response to coronavirus - if your business can help complete the Gov.uk form. Support needed includes:
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.
Guidance on COVID-19, including general precautions for staff and guidance on the assessment and management of arrivals into the UK.
The Government has today announced measures to support the self-employed. Introduction of the ‘Self-employed income support scheme’ which will:
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.
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.
The business support finder tool will help you determine your eligibility for cash grants, tax relief and loans. https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder or https://durham.gov.uk/ndrgrants
If you require assistance in completing the form please contact Revenues and Benefits on 03000 268 997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
A new Corona Virus website has been launched offering detailed guidance to businesses and the self employed.
Key measures include:
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.
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.
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.
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.
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.
The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies.
If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
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.
Nurseries in England do not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.
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 email@example.com.
The Charity Commission have produced guidance to help running your charity during the outbreak.
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.
Phone: 0300 4563565
FSB information for small businesses and the self employed
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:
• Mobile devices
• Cloud based software
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.
Employers should consider some simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff.
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.
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.
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.
Santander has outlined the support it is offering to customers impacted by coronavirus. Support includes a helpline and advice on managing finances.