COVID-19 Financial Support for Business
COVID-19 Financial Support for Business

COVID-19 Financial Support for Business

The government has announced several financial support packages to assist businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. You can find the latest financial support information and links set out below.

The latest economic support factsheet (Thursday 5th November) has also been published.

Use the handy business support finder tool to identify what support is available for you and your business.


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Paying Your Employees


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021.

From 1 July 2021, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a maximum cap of £2187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will top up employees’ wages to make sure they receive 80% of wages (up to £2,500) in total for the hours the employee is on furlough. The caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

Find out more about how the scheme is changing.

For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, you can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as you have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 2 March 2021 to claim for periods starting on or after 1 May 2021.

You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 2 March 2021 to claim.

Employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for the hours not worked.

You will need to pay for employer National Insurance contributions and pension costs. Find out more information on employer contributions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

There are now monthly deadlines for CJRS claims, some of the dates mean employers may have to submit earlier than they were required to in earlier months.

  • 14 July 2021 – final date to submit claims for June 2021 by 11:59pm
  • 16 August 2021 – final date to submit claims for July 2021 by 11:59pm
  • 14 September 2021 – final date to submit claims for August 2021 by 11:59pm
  • 14 October 2021 – final date to submit claims for September 2021 by 11:59pm

Key links:

The government will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.


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Paying Sick Pay


The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the Statutory Sick Pay paid to current or former employees.

The scheme is for employers. You can claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP if:

  • you have already paid your employee’s sick pay
  • you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
  • you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes

Key links:


Watch a YouTube video about the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

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Paying Tax


VAT Reduction

The government made an announcement on 8 July 2020 allowing VAT registered businesses to apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to:

The temporary reduced rate will apply to supplies that are made between 15 July 2020 and 30 September 2021. A 12.5% rate will apply for the subsequent six months until 31 March 2022.

Check which attractions are eligible for the temporary reduced rate of VAT.


Join the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme

The VAT deferral new payment scheme is open from 23 February 2021 up to and including 21 June 2021.

The new scheme lets you:

  • pay your deferred VAT in equal instalments, interest free
  • choose the number of instalments, from 2 to 11 (depending on when you join)


Pay your Deferred VAT in Full

If you were unable to pay in full by 31 March 2021, you may still be bale to avoid being charged penalties or interest by either:


If you Cannot Pay Your Tax Bill on Time

Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as soon as possible if you have missed your payment. How you contact HMRC depends on what you need to pay.

Because of coronavirus, you may be able to delay (defer) some tax payments without paying a penalty. Contact HMRC coronavirus helpline if you cannot pay any other tax bills because of coronavirus.

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Business Rates Relief


Eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England will receive 100% business rates relief from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.

You’re eligible if your property is a:

  • Shop
  • restaurant, café, bar or pub
  • cinema or live music venue
  • assembly or leisure property - for example, a sports club, a gym or a spa
  • hospitality property - for example, a hotel, a guest house or self-catering accommodation

You do not need to take any action; Durham County Council will apply the discount automatically.

You can estimate the business rate relief using the business rates calculator.

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Local and National Government Grants


The government provided a number of grants to support businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, these include the restart grants announced in March's budget. These business support grants are no longer open to applications.

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Other Grant Funds


Arts Council

Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants has reopened the fund with additional supplementary guidance which applies until 31 August 2021 to help fund independent organisations, creative practitioners and freelancers as quickly as possible. We also have a ring-fenced budget of £1.5 million until 31 March 2022 available within National Lottery Project Grants specifically to support the grassroots music sector


The National Lottery Heritage Fund 2021-22

Applications are now open for National Lottery Grants for Heritage from £3,000 to £5million. This marks a return to our core business, but it’s not a return to ‘business as usual’.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic means we have revised our approach to what we will fund. We have created a supplementary document that sets out our Priorities for National Lottery Grants for Heritage for 2021-22. Heritage projects will be prioritised that will:

  • Boost the local economy
  • Encourage skills development and job creation
  • Support wellbeing
  • Create better places to live, work and visit
  • Improve the resilience of organisations working in heritage

Digital Drive County Durham

Grants of up to 40% towards the cost of digital technology projects, including:

  • Digital consultancy projects
  • Equipment that will help to improve your business through the use of digital technology
  • Website, app or software build
  • Broadband infrastructure and installation

Register for the programme to start your application.


Durham Business Opportunities Programme

The DBOP programme aims to help your County Durham business by linking you with opportunities for growth. From a new contract, to finding new premises, a new supplier or perhaps some investment, the team can talk through the options with you.

If your business is based in County Durham and you would like to explore the opportunities for growth please contact us:

The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year programme for SMEs running up until November 2022. It is funded through ERDF and delivered by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council.


County Durham Growth Fund

Launched in April 2019, the County Durham Growth Fund is an £8.9m capital grant scheme for small and medium sized businesses in County Durham designed to accelerate their growth and lead to the creation of additional employment.

You could be eligible for a grant of 20% to 45% of expenditure, if you are:

  • A small or medium sized business
  • Planning capital investment of at least £100,000
  • Expanding or establishing in County Durham


Business Energy Efficiency Project

The Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) has been designed to help County Durham SMEs make financial savings through energy efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint and contributes towards the Councils Climate Emergency Response Plan. The Project also offers a grant fund to qualifying SMEs which can be used to support the purchase of energy efficient equipment.


Community Led Local Development (CLLD) Funding

Community Led Local Development (CLLD) is a new way of supporting local development projects using structural funds from Europe.

It aims to increase employment and skills and social enterprise and ensures that local people are involved in developing projects, using resources in the area to address local challenges. This will be available in County Durham until March 2022.

What you can apply for and who can apply varies, depending on which area your community or organisation is in. 

North Durham CLLD covers Chester-le-Street, Pelton Fell, Whitehills and Pelton, Sacriston, South Stanley, Craghead around the outskirts of Annfield Plain and Harelaw. They have two calls open: one for European Social Funding projects and one for European Regional Development Fund non-capital projects.

South Durham CLLD covers Bishop Auckland, Coundon, Leeholme, Shildon, Spennymoor, St Helen Auckland, and West Auckland. They have a call open for European Regional Development Fund non-capital projects.


Teesdale Action Partnership (TAP)

TAP is providing one-off grants towards projects that address their key priority for 2020-21 – COVID-19 Recovery.

Projects are invited to help support positive outcomes for people living in the TAP AAP area. We would expect projects to have a focus on at least one of the following key issues:

  • Employability initiatives
  • Advice and Guidance
  • Physical Activity, Mental Health & Wellbeing
  • Organisational sustainability
  • Food provision and support
  • Social Isolation
  • Support for the Voluntary and Community Sector, or
  • Support to small businesses (through a third party, not-for-profit organisation to complement existing DCC and external opportunities).

This is not an exhaustive list and there may be other areas and local issues that need to be taken into consideration.

For an application pack, or further information email:


The Fore

Transformational Grants for Small Charities and Not for Profit Organisations (UK) - The Fore make unrestricted grants which have the potential to have a transformational impact on an organisation. Transformational impact includes helping an organisations become more sustainable, more efficient, to grow significantly or enabling an organisation to take a major step forward of some kind.

The Fore is particularly looking to fund small organisations working with marginalised groups and led by people in the community that may have found it hard to access trust and foundation funding in the past. 

Registration places for the Summer 2021 round is now closed. Registration for the Autumn 2021 funding round opens on Monday 26 July at 10am.


Other Funding Opportunities

Other grant funding opportunities can be found on the North East Growth Hub.

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Support for the Self-Employed


Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Claim the fifth grant if you think that your business profit will be impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) between 1 May 2021 and 30 September 2021.

The grants are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions.


Ineligible for SEISS?

If you are ineligible for SEISS grant other support is available.

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Gov Loans for Small and Medium-sized Businesses


New Recovery Loan Scheme

From 6 April 2021 a new Recovery Loan Scheme has been announced to enable businesses of any size to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £10 million per business once the existing COVID-19 loan schemes close.

Launching on 6 April and open until 31 December, subject to review, the Government will guarantee 80% of the finance to the lender. Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders, whose names will be made public in due course. Term loans and overdrafts will be available between £25,001 and £10 million per business. Invoice finance and asset finance will be available between £1,000 and £10 million per business. Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years.

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Gov Loans for Large Businesses


Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The scheme helps medium and large sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £200 million. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender.


COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from large companies. This scheme will support your company if it’s been affected by a short-term funding squeeze and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities. It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Bank of England. It will operate for at least 12 months, and for as long as steps are needed to relieve cash flow pressures on firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy.


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Business Interruption Insurance
The Supreme Court has substantially allowed the FCA’s appeal on behalf of business interruption insurance policyholders. The legal process for impacted policies is now complete and means that covered policyholders will now have their claims for coronavirus-related business interruption losses paid. The judgment is legally binding on the eight insurers that agreed to be parties to the test case. Those insurers are:

  • Arch Insurance (UK) Ltd
  • Argenta Syndicate Management Ltd
  • Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Plc
  • MS Amlin Underwriting Ltd
  • Hiscox Insurance Company Ltd
  • QBE UK Ltd
  • Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Plc
  • Zurich Insurance Plc

The judgment also provides authoritative guidance for the interpretation of similar policy wordings and claims. The FCA has said it will be working with insurers to ensure that they move quickly to pay claims that the judgment says should be paid, making interim payments wherever possible. The judgment does not determine how much is payable under individual policies but provides much of the basis for doing so. Each policy needs to be considered against the detailed judgment to work out what it means for that policy. Policyholders with affected claims can expect to hear from their insurer soon. Policyholders with questions should approach their broker, other advisers or insurer. 370,000 policyholders were identified as holding 700 types of policies issued by 60 insurers that may be affected by the outcome of the test case.
The FCA has published draft guidance for policyholders on how to prove the presence of coronavirus, which is a condition in certain types of policy. The FCA will issue finalised guidance as soon as possible after the consultation which closes on 22 January. They will also publish a set of Q&As for policyholders to assist them and their advisers in understanding the test case. The FCA will also publish a list of BI policy types that potentially respond to the pandemic based on data that they will be gathering from insurers.

Trade Credit Insurance
Trade Credit Insurance which provides essential cover to hundreds of thousands of business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees.

Further Help
The Financial Conduct Authority has set up the Financial Ombudsman Service to provide arbitration for insurance claims of smaller businesses with turnover of less than £6.5 million and fewer than 50 employees. The decision of the Financial Ombudsman Service is binding on insurers up to £350,000.
To take your complaint directly, please contact:
The Financial Ombudsman Service
Exchange Tower
E14 9SR
Telephone: 0300 123 9123

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Other Financial Support Schemes


Business Durham
Fast tracked funding to purchase IT equipment, SMEs in Co Durham, grant of up to £2000 (40% intervention) for capital equipment, software and consultancy

Crowdfund North East LEP
The North East LEP has partnered with Crowdfunder to launch a match fund grant that ensures the small business sector is supported quickly during this time of crisis. This fund provides support to businesses, charities, social enterprises and sole-traders seeking to cope with challenging trading conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arts Council
£160 million available to help protect the people and organisations that make up the arts, museums and libraries sector.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Various grants and assistance available through the Heritage Emergency Fund.

Historic England
Applicants are invited to apply for grants of up to £25,000 to address financial difficulties arising from Coronavirus. Grants of up to £50,000 are also available for projects and activities that reduce risks to heritage by providing information, resources and skills.

Sport England
Up to £210 million of funding to help support the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing coronavirus crisis.