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Coronavirus support

Business support

This page features the latest advice for businesses in light of the Coronavirus (COVID- 19) pandemic.

The Government has announced a range of measures designed to help businesses while the UK and countries around the world are affected by Coronavirus.

Read the joint statement from Somerset's Local Authorities

Find coronavirus financial support for your business

Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to employers and the self-employed. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants.

Visit the Government website to see what you are eligible for

View the Working safely during Coronavirus guidance

Government guidance on businesses reopening from 4 July onwards

We will regularly update this page with the latest information, so please use the dropdowns below for further advice. Keep up to date with Government advice here

Please note that grants to businesses under the Small Business Grants Fund, the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grants Fund and the Discretionary Grants Fund closed on 28 August.

  1. Sport England Return to Play Fund launched

    Sport England have launched a new £16.5 million fund to provide additional help to the sport and physical activity sector during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

    The Return to Play Fund will support groups, clubs and organisations who’ve been impacted by restrictions brought in to tackle the disease, and is part of our overall response to the crisis that now includes more than £220m of government and National Lottery funding. 

    Find out more here. 

  2. Back to work Government guidelines

    COVID-19 Secure at Work guidelines

    Workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines to help ensure they are as safe as possible and the risk of infection is as low as possible. These 14 guides cover a range of different types of work. You may need to use more than one of these guides in your workplace as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

    View guidance for each type of work

    What to do when a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported

    The Somerset COVID-19 Local Engagement Board has devised a Local Outbreak Management Plan for Coronavirus (Covid-19) detailing actions to take in the event of an outbreak.

     As part of this work they have worked with South West partners to devise flyers and posters to help you, your employees and customers know what to do when a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported.

    View and download documents here

  3. Support for local business

    We know that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is already impacting businesses across Somerset and many of you will have concerns. Somerset County Council are working with partners to help and support them during this challenging time.

    Visit Somerset County Council support page

  4. Track & Trace QR codes for businesses

    From 24 September, designated venues in certain sectors will be required by law to display an official NHS QR code poster at their venue. This will make it easier for customers with the app to check-in and allow NHS Test and Trace to alert users and provide them with public health advice in the event of a coronavirus outbreak linked to a venue. To find out more about QR posters or to create one for your business click here.

    Businesses and venues that are not currently expected to maintain visitor logs are encouraged to display official NHS QR codes if they have indoor areas where visitors are likely to congregate or sit-down in close contact for 15 minutes or more.  By using the NHS QR code system, businesses will be helping to protect themselves and their customers from the impact of the virus.

    Below is more information regarding the NHS COVID-19 app, you can also find out more information regarding COVID guidelines here.  

    • The app has a number of tools to protect people, including contact tracing, checking into venues through an in-built QR code scanner, risk alerts by postcode, a symptom checker and test booking.
    • The NHS COVID-19 app is now available across England and Wales, following positive trials in Newham, on the Isle of Wight and with NHS Volunteer Responders
    • The app is part of the NHS Test and Trace service and NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. It alerts people at risk of coronavirus, asking them to isolate before they potentially pass the virus on to others.
    • The app will be a vital new pillar to enhance both the English NHS Test and Trace service, and NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect.
    • Following trials and rigorous testing, the app has proven to be highly effective when used alongside traditional contact tracing to identify contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.
    • The more people that do the right thing - by using the app, and self-isolating when alerted - the more we keep each other safe and stop infection rates rising.
    • From launch, the NHS Covid-19 app will be interoperable between English and Welsh users, meaning contacts between citizens in both countries can be detected and acted upon.

  5. Local Restrictions Support Grant

    Businesses in England required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions may be eligible to receive grants worth up to £1,500 every three weeks.

    The local lockdown is triggered when the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requires the closure of businesses in a local area under regulations within the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.  

    There are currently no local restrictions in place in South Somerset and therefore the grants are not yet available.

    If local restrictions are put in place in South Somerset (or a more localised area), an online application form will be made available on this page, and further information and guidance provided.  

    Summary of the support grant
    Businesses may be eligible for the grants if they were open as usual and providing in-person services to customers from their business premises and then required to close for a consecutive period of no less three weeks.  

    • If your business is eligible and has a property with a rateable value of less than £51,000, you will receive a grant of £1,000 for each 3-week period your business is closed.
    • If your business is eligible and has a property with a rateable value of £51,000 or above, you will receive a grant of £1,500 for each 3-week period your business is closed.
    • The grant will be extended to cover each additional 3-week period, so if your business is closed for 6 weeks it will receive £2,000 or £3,000, depending on the rateable value of the property.
    • Grants will be based on the rateable value of the property on the first full day of local lockdown restrictions.

    Grants would not be payable if either the lockdown restriction or the individual business’s closure are less than three weeks.

    Further examples of when businesses would not be eligible for the grants are set out in the Government’s guidance.

    Councils will be provided a small amount of funding to provide a discretionary element of grant funding.  The eligibility for this element will be determined in the coming weeks and this will be set out on this page if any local restrictions are put in place. 

    As with other COVID-19 business grants, local grants paid to closed businesses will be treated as taxable income. 

     Full Government guidance on these grants is available on their website.

  6. Growth Support Kickstarter Grant - Apply 12pm, 1 September

    From noon Tuesday 1 September, small businesses and the tourism sector across Somerset can apply for the Growth Support Kickstart Grant Scheme - offering free grants of up to £3,000.

    Activities supported by the grant can include specialist professional advice and minor items to support your business to adapt or adopt new technology.

    The application form for the grant is available on the Growth Support Kickstart Grant website.

    Grants will be awarded to eligible business who meet the criteria on a first come, first serve basis.

  7. Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund UPDATED 8 June

    South Somerset District Council’s Discretionary Grant Scheme will re-opened on Monday 8th June at 10am for expressions of interest applications only.

    We are currently not in a position to allocate any more discretionary grant funding however will be using the applications to lobby central Government for further funding to use on this scheme.  

    The team are currently assessing existing submissions and should we be in a position where we have any unallocated funding, we will distribute this on a first come first served basis to the expression of interest applications we have received. You will receive an automated email, once your application has been successfully submitted.

    If we are provided with additional discretionary grant funding from Government we will process applications in the same way. 

    Submit an Expression of Interest application

    Please do not contact us regarding your application as we are unable to provide you with any additional information.

    To find out more about the scheme please view the qualifying criteria.

  8. Apply for a Pavement Licence - updated 27 July

    Pavement licence

    A pavement licence allows the licence holder to place removable furniture over certain highways adjacent to the premises in relation to which the application was made, for certain purposes.

    Businesses, which sell food or drink for consumption on and off the premises may apply for a pavement licence.

    There is a streamlined process to allow businesses apply for a licence and where it is granted a licence will be valid for up to a year (but not beyond 30 September 2021).

    We want to support businesses to open and we know the vast majority will do this responsibly, however, we are also aware that we need to protect our wider communities. If conditions aren’t being complied with, or one of the circumstances detailed in the enforcement section below occurs, a notice which requires the issue to be rectified can be issued, or the licence can be revoked.

    View the guidance.

    Application process

    • Complete the application form and provide supporting documents, public liability insurance, plan of area to be used and picture of the site notice
    • Pay the application fee of £100 (non-refundable)
    • Display a notice at the premises advertising the application starting from the day the application is submitted. The end of consultation period is 7 days from the day after the application is made. Download the notice here 
    • The process takes 15 days (7 day consultation period starting the day after the application is made and 7 days (starting the day after the end of the consultation period) to determine the application
    • Applications can be granted (in whole or part) or refused
    • Comply with the mandatory condition that clear routes of access must be maintained and any other general conditions on the licence

    Apply for a pavement licence 


    Consultation

    Once the information is submitted there are 14 days from the day after the application is made (excluding public holidays) to consult on, and determine the application. This consists of 7 days for public consultation, and then 7 days to consider and determine the application after the consultation.

    The consultees for the application are: Highway Authority, Police, Environmental Health, Neighbourhood Services, Planning and Parish/Town Council

     

    What kind of furniture can be used?

    • counters or stalls for selling or serving food or drink;
    • tables, counters or shelves on which food or drink can be placed;
    • chairs, benches or other forms of seating; and
    • umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other articles used in connection with the outdoor consumption of food or drink.

    This furniture is required to be removable. In principle removable means it is not a permanent fixed structure, and is able to be moved easily, and stored away of an evening.

    The full conditions can be found here.

    Enforcement

    If a condition imposed on a licence is breached, a notice requiring the breach to be remedied may be issued and action to cover costs may be taken.

    A licence may be revoked in the following circumstances:

    1. For breach of condition, (whether or not a remediation notice has been issued) or
    2. Where:
      • There are risks to public health or safety – for example by encouraging users to breach government guidance on social distancing by placing tables and chairs too close together;
      • the highway is being obstructed (other than by anything permitted by the licence);
      • there is anti-social behaviour or public nuisance – for example, the use is increasing the amount of noise generated late at night and litter is not being cleaned up;
      • it comes to light that the applicant provided false or misleading statements in their application – for example they are operating a stall selling hot food and had applied for tables and chairs on which drinks could be consumed; or
      • the applicant did not comply with the requirement to affix the notice to notify the public for the relevant period.
    3. The local authority may also revoke the licence where all or any part of the area of the relevant highway to which the licence relates has become unsuitable for any purpose for which the licence was granted or deemed to be granted. For example, the licensed area (or road adjacent) is no longer to be pedestrianised. It is good practice for local authorities to give reasons where these powers are used.

     

    Tacit Consent

    If your application is not determined within 10 working days from the date of submission, your application will be treated as being granted.

     

    Appeal

    There is not a statutory route to appeal decisions.

  9. CLOSED Government Grant Funding Schemes - Small business and Hospitality & Leisure

    Please be aware that following Government guidance these funds closed on Friday 28 August

    Small Business Grant fund

    If you are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief as at the 11 March 2020 and your rateable Value is below £15,000 then you may qualify for a Small Business Grant of £10,000.

    Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

    If your Business has a Rateable Value of below £51,000 and you are eligible for the expanded Retail Discount as at the 11 March 2020 then you may qualify for a Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant of £25,000.

    Exclusions

    The Grant will not be payable where the business is used for personal use, ie private stables.  Carparks and parking spaces are excluded.  For the avoidance of doubt, businesses which as of the 11 March were in liquidation or were dissolved will not be eligible. 

    Note: Internet Explorer is no longer supported by our online forms, please open the link in a supported internet browser, for example Google Chrome. 

    View our Business Support Grant FAQs

  10. Heart of the South West Growth Hub - including business reopening toolkit UPDATED 8 July

    The Heart of the South West Growth Hub gives businesses information aimed at supporting them to grow or start and operate within the Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay area of South West England. 

    You can find links to the latest information, advice and support on the Growth Hub Covid-19 business support pages on the website Covid-19 Support for Business.

    Reopening your Business - updated 2 July

    If you are a business considering reopening, the Better Business for All (BBfA) partnership has used their knowledge and expertise to bring together resources from trusted organisations to help guide you through the main considerations for restarting your business safely.

    They have developed a toolkit which is available on the Growth Hub website with useful documents including a risk assessment template and action plan, business checklists and useful guides to help you.

    The Heart of the South West Growth Hub team have specific Covid-19 guidance on their website and are on hand to help businesses in Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay navigate the business support landscape and put you in touch with the right schemes to meet your business needs and aspirations.

    General enquiries info@heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk 
    Telephone 03456 047 047 
    Website www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk 

  11. Government support for the self-employed - UPDATED 29 May

    On 29 May, it was announced that the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months. 

    Those eligible for the scheme will be able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570. 

    View further information here

    The Government has announced measures to support self-employed individuals. They will pay a taxable grant of 80% of average annual profits over the last three years, up to £2500 a month, if affected by Covid-19. 

    The scheme will be open for at least three months, backdated to 1 March 2020. 

    View full guidance on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

    View Self-employment Income Support Scheme FAQs

  12. Government Job Retention Scheme UPDATED 29 May

    On 29 May, the Government outlined further details on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time in July, and a new taper requiring employers to contribute modestly to furloughed salaries from August

    View details of the extension here

    On 17 April, the Government extended this furlough scheme by one month - to the end of June - to reflect continuing social distancing measures. 

    This extension will:

    • allow firms from across UK to continue to protect millions of jobs
    • continue to be monitored to ensure people and businesses can get back to work as soon as it’s safe to do so to drive UK economic recovery

    View further information on Job Retention Scheme extension

    Under the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme, that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

    This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. 

    View full guidance on the Government Job Retention Scheme.

  13. Guidance on holding events

    The Events Industry Forum has put together a document to help employers, employees, volunteers and the self-employed, and their customers and attendees, in the outdoor event industry understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible socially distanced from outside of their household or support bubble, in line with the latest government regulations.

    Visit the Events Industry Forum website

  14. Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

    On 16 April, the Government announced that the loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms. 

    • all viable businesses with turnover of more than £45m will be able to apply for government-backed support
    • firms with turnover of more than £250 million can borrow up to £50 million from lenders

    This complements existing support, including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

    View more information on the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  15. Government guidance on working safely UPDATED 16 June

    The Government has created guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

    These eight guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen.

    View guidance on working safely

    View the latest working safely during Covid-19 in shops and branches (updated 14 June).

  16. Business owner signs and resources

    We want to do all we can to help enforce the government's social distancing measures. Therefore, we have produced downloadable signs for shopkeepers, and other business owners, to use in their shop fronts and throughout their premises

    View and download signs and resources

  17. Business support and stay at home FAQs

    The Government has produced FAQs for business owners. These should hopefully answer any queries relating to business closures, site working and stay at home measures for employees. 

  18. Guidance on food safety for community cooking and food banks

    The Food Standards Agency have released guidance and information on food safety for individuals and groups wishing to prepare meals for their community.

    View food safety guidance

  19. Sport England Community Emergency Fund

    Sport England are offering funding to help community sport and physical activity organisations who are experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due coronavirus. 

    This funding may be particularly helpful for small leisure trusts and clubs who may not be eligible for funds from other sources. 

    If your sports clubs of leisure trust is concerned about meeting ongoing running costs during the Covid-19 crisis, then Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) is available to support South Somerset sports organisations access emergency funding. 

    View Sport England Community Emergency Fund

  20. New funding to support dairy farmers

    The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs yesterday (06 May) announced that England’s dairy farmers will be able 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.

    More details on the fund will be issued in due course.

    Announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-to-support-dairy-farmers-through-coronavirus

  21. Advice for accommodations providers

    The Government has recently updated its guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in the UK. This is to allow hostels, hotels and B&Bs providing support for key workers, vulnerable groups and rough sleepers to remain open. 

    View full Government guidance for accommodation providers

    View letter from Luke Hall MP

  22. Guidance on the admission and care of people in care homes

    The Government has published guidance for care homes, local health protection teams, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and registered providers of accommodation for people who need personal or nursing care. 

    It sets out how to admit and care for residents safely and how to protect care home staff. 

    View Government guidance on the admission and care for people in care homes

  23. Guidance for care of the deceased

    The Government have published new guidance for care of the deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus. This guidance will help ensure members of the funeral, pathology and other related professions can keep themselves safe and prevent the risk of infection. It will also guide and advise mourners on safely organising and attending funerals. 

    View Government guidance for care of the deceased

  24. Guidance for animal businesses

    The Canine & Feline Sector Group (CFSG) have published guidance for businesses involving animals.

    View guidance using the links below:

    Advice for animal related businesses

    Advice for rescue and rehoming organisations

    Advice for animal shelters and vets

  25. Managing Legionella in building water systems and leisure facilities

    Our Environmental Health team would like to draw attention to the following guidance posted up by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease on how to best manage Legionella in building water systems during this COVID-19 outbreak.

    It is very important that while many buildings, offices and leisure facilities are shut down due to the pandemic, that water systems and leisure facilities, such as spa pools, are still well maintained to prevent future health issues like Legionella outbreaks. The procedures outlined below will help maintain water systems during this outbreak.

    View guidance for managing Legionella

  26. Help and support for businesses webinars

    The Government are delivering a programme of webinars to support employers, employees and the self-employed through this period of disruption. 

    Watch the first recorded webinar and register for future webinars

  27. ACAS advice for businesses and employees

    For Coronavirus information for employers and employees that is updated daily, visit this link

  28. Future fund launched to support technology, life science and creative industries

    UK-based companies can now apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million, to support continued growth and innovation in sectors as diverse as technology, life sciences and the creative industries.

    The government has made an initial £250 million available for investment through the scheme and will consider increasing this if needed.

    For further information, USE THIS LINK

    • The Future Fund is open to UK-based firms, that have previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third parties in the last 5 years. They will also need to have investors to provide funding to be matched by the government, and have half or more of their employees based in the UK or generate at least half of their revenue through UK sales. The loans will convert to equity if not repaid.
    • Companies can check they meet the criteria for funding by going to the British Business Bank website. If they have secured private match funding, one of their investors can register online to start the application process.

  29. Other finance options

    Businesses can access a range of finance through the Government-owned British Business Bank, visit the Bank's Finance Hub for further information.

    A number of private lenders and banks are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

  30. COVID-19 Helpline

    If you are a business owner and concerned about not being able to pay your taxes due to coronavirus, you can call the HMRC COVID-19 hotline. 

    0800 0159 559

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