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Covid-19 business support - latest updates (updated 26 May)


We understand the concerns of businesses and self-employed people across the county at this very difficult time. We are here to give advice and support to all County Durham businesses, large and small.

We are processing and making payments under 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.

Latest news

Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Source: government, published May 26, 2020 11.30am

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

Source: government, published May 26, 2020 11.30am

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.

For full details of upcoming webinars, see Eventbrite: Webinar - Working safely during coronavirus - shops and branches.


Reopening High Streets Safely Fund

Source: government, published May 26, 2020 11.30am

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

Source: government, published May 22, 2020 3.35pm

The Clean Growth Fund is a venture capital scheme to help 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

Source: government, published May 21, 2020 10.30am

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 27 May and will run until Tuesday 2 June.

For more details and and to sign up visit Eventbrite: Working safely webinars.


Legislation to relieve burden on businesses and support recovery

Source: government, published May 21, 2020 10.30am

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

Source: government, published May 21, 2020 10.30am

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

Source: government, published May 21, 2020 10.30am

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.


Future Fund

Source: government, published May 20, 2020 10.30am

From today (20 May), Future Fund is 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

Source: government, published May 20, 2020 10.30am

Innovative businesses and start-ups can benefit from government investment to drive forward new technological advances. The government has announced it is investing an additional £20 million in the Fast Start Competition taking the total to £40 million. 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

Source: government, published May 19, 2020 9.09am

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 staff, 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

Source: government, published May 19, 2020 9.09am

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.


Updated guidance - employers and businesses

Source: government, published May 18, 2020 12.28pm

The government has updated guidance for employers and businesses. It will help employers and businesses provide advice to their staff on 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.


Business Grant Fund Scheme

Source: DCC service update, published May 15, 2020 3.44pm

On 1 May 2020, the government told us that additional funding would 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 said that these grants should be primarily aimed at:

  • small and micro businesses (as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006)
  • businesses that were not eligible for the current schemes (Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Scheme)
  • businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis
  • businesses who occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000

We have been asked to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding pot:

  • small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces eg units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment
  • regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
  • bed and breakfast businesses which pay council tax instead of business rates
  • charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief

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:

  • Small Business Grant Fund
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • The Fisheries Response Fund
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS)
  • The Zoos Support Fund
  • The Dairy Hardship Fund

Businesses who have accessed support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) are eligible.

If you are self-employed or a business, the Gov.uk: business support finder will help find the schemes available to offer financial support.


Holiday entitlement and pay

Source: government, published May 15, 2020 12.58pm

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: 

  • workers who continue to work
  • workers who have been placed on furlough as part of the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

See Gov.uk: Holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus (COVID-19)


Previous news

See our Covid-19 business support - previous news and updates page for previous news and updates.

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