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Support available for our businesses

Information about the different types of support available for businesses during COVID-19 is available on our FAQs.

Government COVID-19 support for business

To help businesses navigate the financial support available, the Government has launched a new ‘support finder’ tool for businesses and self-employed people. The finder tool will ask business owners to fill out a simple online questionnaire and they will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for which could include:

  • Bounce Back Loan for small businesses
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Schemes
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme


Updates on Government advice, funding and guidance can be found on the COVID-19 Business Support website.

More information and support is available from the New Anglia Growth Hub, where trained advisers can provide guidance and support on a range of matters.


COVID-19 Business Support – Frequently Asked Questions


I have heard about an increased Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year and it being expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors (including pubs), how do I find out if I am eligible?

A: Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that have received the retail discount in 2019-20 have been contacted by the Council and rebilled for 2020/21.

You can check whether your business is eligible for business rate relief by reading the Government business rate guidance.


I heard that the government were offering a range of grants to help small businesses. Can I apply?

All Covid-19 business grants were closed for new applications on Friday 28th August. All payments for the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants have now been processed. We cannot accept any new applications. 

The Discretionary Grant applications are still being reviewed. If you have a claim reference but have not yet heard from us to confirm whether your application has been successful, please bear with us. We will be in touch in due course to inform you whether you have qualified for a grant payment. 

For any queries, please email the Discretionary Grant team


Will these grant schemes be subject to tax?

A: Grant income received by a business is taxable therefore the Small Business Grants, and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants will be subject to tax. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.


I have heard that there will be a rates holiday for childcare nurseries, can you tell me any more?

A: To support nurseries at this time the Government has announced that they will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21, from 1 April. Eligible properties are currently being identified, and business will be contacted as soon as possible. If you believe that you should be eligible for this relief and have not heard from us by the 30 April 2020 please email the Business Rate Team


I am struggling with my business rates, what should I do?

A: If you are not able to pay your business rates please contact the business rates team as soon as possible. The sooner the conversation is started they may be able to assist with rescheduling payment dates. Please email the Business Rate Team.


I am self-employed, how do I get help?

A: The self-employment support scheme will help if; you are self-employed or a member of a partnership, and have lost income due to COVID-19, your taxable income is less than £50,000 and you have submitted a tax return for the 2018-19 period. You will be entitled to a taxable grant worth 80% of your profits up to a maximum of £2500, for the next 3 months.


How do I apply for the self-employment support scheme?

A: From Monday 4 May, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will begin contacting customers who may be eligible for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Those who are eligible will be given a date when they can submit their claim (starting from 13 May). They will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits). Once the claim is completed, payments will be made in a single instalment within six days.

Be aware: If you receive texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or a tax refund and asking you to click on a link or to give personal information, it is a scam. You should email it to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and then delete it.


How do I know if I am eligible for the self-employment support scheme?

A: All details on this are available on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) website.


I can’t pay my VAT and Income tax until I have the grant, what can I do?

A: Income tax and VAT payments have been deferred, you do not need to apply for this but more detail is available on the Government COVID-19 support for business website


I have only recently become self-employed, so what do I do?

A: If you weren’t trading for the 2018/19 period you are not eligible for support through this scheme. You are able to apply for support through universal credit, details can be found on the Government COVID-19 support for business website


I’ve heard about a Business Interruption Loan Scheme - how do I access this?

A: The Business Interruption Loan Scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million.

The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months. Find out more about the scheme eligibility and apply through the Government Business Interruption Loan Scheme webpage.


What help is available to support larger firms?

A: The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) supports large businesses, with an annual turnover of over £45 million.

All viable businesses with turnover of more than £45 million per year can apply for up to £25 million of finance. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £50 million of finance.

The scheme is available through a series of accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website. The government provides lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans. Find out more about the loan and apply on the Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme webpage.


Is there any financial support available for smaller businesses?

The Bounce Back Loan scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. Find out more and apply through the Bounce Back Loan webpage.


Are there any regional business grants available?

A: The New Anglia LEP has launched a Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme totalling around £10m. The aim of the grants is to support businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk through the COVID-19 pandemic and into economic recovery. More information can be found on the New Anglia LEP website.


I am a business and/or self-employed person, what help is available if I run into financial difficulties?

A: All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. The Government are intending to make available access to a Hardship Fund, details of which will be made available in due course.


What support is there for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees?

A: The Government has announced legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim up to 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence or shielding due to COVID-19. More information can be found on the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employer guide.


I’m an employer, I don’t want to lose my staff but they can’t work at present and I can’t afford to keep them on during this event, what can I do?

A: If you use PAYE you are able to access the Job Retention Scheme, this will support you to pay 80% of salaries rather than lay people off. This only applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This will include Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions. More guidance is available on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme webpage.


I’m worried that my employer will not be able to keep paying me and will make me redundant, what can I do?

A: Many employees that are paid by PAYE are eligible to be supported by the job retention scheme. This scheme will cover the cost of up to 80% of your normal wages during this event. Information on whether you and your employer are able to be part of this scheme can be found on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme webpage.


I am a business tenant of a commercial property and I am concerned that I can’t pay my rent because of the impact of COVID 19 on my business- what should I do?

A: All business owners who are concerned about paying rent or other bills should seek advice from the New Anglia Growth Hub to find out what business support is available. It is also advisable to contact your landlord with view to trying to agree a rent payment plan. The Government has announced that no commercial tenant will be allowed to be evicted for the next three months due to the business impact of the coronavirus.


What steps can I take to provide a safe working environment during COVID-19?

The Government has published guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance covers a range of different types of work. Download or view the Working Safely During Coronavirus Guide from the Government website.


As my business adapts to the coronavirus I am considering making food deliveries from my business premises, can I do this?

A: Food businesses registered with Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are in some instances permitted to carry out food deliveries. As a rule, this may be subject to compliance with planning conditions or the need for planning permission. However, the Government has announced they are to relax any planning restrictions for pubs, restaurants and cafes at this time to help businesses adapt and support individuals who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus. This in effect means that the Council may not necessarily investigate potential breaches in planning during this period, clear guidance for businesses is available on our website.

Alcohol cannot be sold or delivered unless an existing licence is in force which permits you to do so.

Further information is available at the Food Standards Agency website.


I need to work differently in order to improve my business resilience, can I do anything about my planning restrictions?

A. If you need to talk to us about how your business operates please contact the Economic Development team.


Does my construction site have to close?

A: No, Construction sites have not been asked to close, so work can continue if it is done safely. Employers should ensure their workers on-site are able to follow the public health guidance, and they should consider responsible arrangements for ensuring their workers can travel in line with this advice, such as through staggering site hours to reduce public transport use during peak periods. The Government are continually reviewing the matter and updates can be found on the Remediation and COVID-19: Building Safety update


How do I ensure my site is operating safely?

A: Further guidance on site safety is being provided and updated regularly by the Construction Industry Council.


We are working on an existing building making safety improvements, should we pause this work?

A Making buildings safe, including progressing the remediation of high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding, particularly those with unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding; and maintaining measures to ensure buildings are safe ahead of remediation, remains a priority for the government. The Government’s view is that this work is critical to public safety. Those responsible for commissioning building safety work, such as the remediation of high-rise buildings with unsafe ACM cladding, and the construction companies undertaking the work, should consider how best to proceed and/or mitigate the risks arising from such work being paused.


Further advice and links:

Babergh and Mid Suffolk Economic Development Team

The New Anglia Growth Hub

New Anglia LEP


UK Government - Guidance for employers and businesses about COVID-19

Suffolk County Council

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce


Arts Council: Emergency Response Package

Heritage Lottery Emergency Fund

Local job opportunities

Government Business Support Finder Tool

Money Advice Service