Coronavirus – Guidance for Businesses and Employees

  • Date Friday, 27 March 2020

Outside of the primary concerns of health risks posed by the outbreak of coronavirus, we’re aware that this is a hugely challenging time for businesses and their staff

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Outside of the primary concerns of health risks posed by the outbreak of coronavirus, we’re aware that this is a hugely challenging time for businesses and their staff. In order to help ensure you are fully informed, we have created this page to link you to the advice and guidance you may need for your business. However, for regular and current updates, make sure to be following @BetterBankside on Twitter, and get in touch with us directly for further guidance.

The Government has set out a package of temporary and targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by the coronavirus including:

  • a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year
  • a £25,000 grant will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief
  • the Job Retention Scheme
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional financial help
  • bounce back loans for small businesses
  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
  • a support package for charities

Business rates relief and grants

The government has introduced a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. The council will apply rates relief automatically. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to, or you can see a list of eligible businesses here on the government website.

For other businesses, while business rates instalments would be due in April and May, please be assured that if you are unable to pay Southwark Council will not be undertaking any recovery or enforcement activity for unpaid rates at this time.  They will keep this under review and encourage businesses to contact them at an appropriate time to revise payment terms.

Grants are now available for businesses that get Small Business Rates Relief, and for small businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector:

  • Businesses in receipt  of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) will receive a cash grant of £10,000
  • Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000 per property
  • Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000 per property

The council will make grant payments directly to all eligible businesses.

If you are eligible for a grant payment but haven’t received it automatically, Southwark Council are asking businesses to provide their bank account details securely using the council’s business grant request form.

Job Retention Scheme

The chancellor has announced the furlough scheme is to be extended until the end of October. After July, employers will be asked to contribute financially.

The government’s Job Retention Scheme allows businesses to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salaries while they are on temporary leave (furlough). Employers can claim 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wages, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions. Payments can be backdated to 1 March 2020. Businesses can expect payment within 6 working days of the claim. More here.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

The Government is bringing forward emergency legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note

The eligibility period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force. The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is open for applications. The scheme supports a wide range of business finance products and can provide smaller businesses with loans of up to £5 million, with no interest for the first 12 months. The scheme provides the lender with a government backed guarantee of 80% of the loan and there is no fee for businesses accessing the scheme.
Businesses can access the scheme through participating lenders.  You can find out more information about the scheme, eligibility criteria and how to apply on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme website.

On 2 April changes to the scheme were announced to enable more businesses to access financial support during the lockdown. Previously, government-backed loans for small businesses were only available to firms that had been turned down for a commercial loan from their bank, but this is no longer the case. Larger businesses will also be eligible for more help with government-backed loans of up to £25m for firms with revenues of between £45m and £500m.

Bounce Back loans for small businesses

The Chancellor has announced a new loans scheme which will allow small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. More on this scheme here.

Support for businesses paying tax

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, or see more information here.

Better Bankside services

As always, do get in touch if there is anything more we can be doing to support your business. We will keep this page updated with new information. You can also follow @BetterBankside on twitter.

If you are using our recycling contractor, Paper Round and your business has a reduced requirement for waste collections as a result of remote working, you can contact the Paper Round helpdesk on 020 7407 9100 to update them on your requirements.
Due to the current crisis situation, Southwark Council have taken the decision redeploy the Wardens to carry our critical Covid-19 related tasks across the borough, including delivering PPE. We are in touch with the local neighbourhood police team and they are continuing to patrol to provide a highly visible presence in the area. They have been visiting businesses to provide advice and support.

We’ve been receiving updates from the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade about keeping empty offices/premises protected, policing in the neighbourhood and fire safety and prevention. Read through the guidance here.

Following Government advice to avoid gatherings and unnecessary contact, all events have been postponed and will be rescheduled at an appropriate time. We will continue to review the evolving situation and look forward to welcoming you again soon.

If you’re a restaurant, cultural attraction, shop, or gym and have online content/services/products we can help promote, please get in touch with Nicole Gordon at

Most importantly, we hope you all stay safe and well.

Thank you in advance for your ongoing support.