Coronavirus Outbreak

We know that the fast pace and volume of information isn’t easy for businesses to contend with - events are moving very quickly, and information is constantly being updated in relation to the UK Government’s funding response to COVID-19 – we will do our best to provide you with the most up to date guidance.

For all the latest Government information on COVID-19 and the measures the Government are taking and to ensure we are viewing the most up to date information, you can visit the UK Government website.

There are still several areas where we are expecting further clarification in relation to the process of delivery for funding support schemes. If we are unable to answer your question today, please do get back in touch with us. We are here to help you navigate through the information, there is no limit to the amount of times you can contact us as the situation evolves. We can keep a record of your details and alert you when we have further information.

There are many initiatives being established to help support businesses and employers who are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Below we have collated signposts to a range of resources and guidance which offer support and information particular to helping businesses through this challenging time, which we hope will be helpful.

One-to-one Support from the Growth Hub

If your business is, or will be, affected by the current outbreak of COVID-19 please get in touch by emailing, or call us on 0800 032 3488. Our advisers will listen and discuss with you how our services may be able to help your business throughout this period.

Where to start

We urge all businesses to contact us directly for assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our team of accredited Business Advisers can help you navigate the various government support schemes, as well as helping you identify other free sources of help available.

If you've accessed help from the Growth Hub before we invite you to get back in touch. And for businesses who are looking to scale up, branch out, move into new markets or create new jobs, please contact us to see how we can help you achieve your business goals.

Helpline: 0800 032 3488 - 9 and 5, Monday to Friday


Please can you spare a few moments to answer our short survey on how COVID-19 has affected your business so far and what measures you are taking?

Click here to complete our survey.

Your responses will give us a clearer picture of how businesses in our region are being impacted, helping us to provide the best possible support.

If you'd like an email or a callback from a Business Adviser in relation to your answers, or to talk in general about the support that's available, you can request this within the survey.

Webinars and podcasts

New: UK Government Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill Webinars

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will reform the insolvency and corporate governance framework in light of the COVID emergency. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has planned two webinars to explain different aspects of this new legislation. 

  • To find out how provisions on AGMs and filing extensions will affect companies, please join us for our Corporate Governance session at 10.30am on 30th June. You can register here.
  • To find out how the new rules on moratoriums, restructuring and winding-up petitions will affect companies and their associated parties, register to join our Insolvency session at 10.30am on 7th July. You can register here

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will reform the insolvency and corporate governance framework in light of the COVID emergency. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has planned two webinars to explain different aspects of this new legislation. 

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill Webinars

Birmingham City University - Business Recovery Webinar Series

We recognise that businesses can ill afford a continued period in which economic productivity is impacted which is why we are creating a series of sector focused webinars to help keep regional businesses moving. This series of business recovery webinars has been produced by Birmingham City University on behalf of GBSIoT and is being delivered in conjunction with the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Made in the Midlands.

Find out more:


Festival of Enterprise: Bounce Back Live webinar series

Make money in the new economy. Upcoming topics include:

  • Recession-proof your receivables
  • Growth strategy post-COVID
  • Being cashflow savvy
  • Crisis marketing
  • Isolation and remote working

See them all here:

DIT Midlands Webinars

A series of webinars designed to help you navigate through this difficult time while learning new skills to ensure your business stands out to international customers. Topics include:

  • Exporting
  • E-commerce
  • International marketing

View the whole series here:

Government guidance on making your workplace safe - webinars

These webinars cover a range of different types of workplace settings which are allowed to be open. 

  • Wednesday 27 May, 11am: Factories, plants and warehouses
  • Wednesday 27 May, 3pm: Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery 
  • Thursday 28 May, 11am: Shops and branches 
  • Thursday 28 May, 3pm: Vehicles
  • Monday 1 June, 11am: Construction and other outdoor work 
  • Monday 1 June, 3pm: Labs and research facilities 
  • Tuesday 2 June, 11am: Offices and contact centres   
  • Tuesday 2 June, 3pm: Homes 

Access them all here:

Innovation Vouchers Webinars

Wednesday 20th May @ 2pm to 3pm – Geoff Parkes: Understanding the Customer. Not all customers think or behave the same way, and therefore a critical aspect to any marketing strategy is understanding customer segmentation.

Wednesday 27th May @ 2pm to 3pm – David Carrington – Marketing for Micro and Macro Environments. Examining the psychology of sales and consumer behaviour is critical, as understanding the perceived value of the product or service to those who are likely to buy it can make or break your company.

Wednesday 3rd June – Pawan Budhway @ 2pm to 3pm – Role, Leadership & Culture for Innovation.  This webinar will help owners/managers to build their strategic leadership capacity, enhancing the cultural and structural effectiveness of your organisation for innovation

These will be interactive webinars, but if you can't make it there will be recording available to watch here.

CIPD Podcast - Managing the wellbeing of remote workers

Listen to the podcast or download the transcript here:

HM Revenue & Customs webinars

HM Revenue & Customs are delivering a programme of webinars on measures to support employers, employees and the self-employed through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. You can watch a video of the first recorded webinar and register for future webinars by clicking here.

Sage webinars for bookkeepers and accountants

The latest expert advice on how Accountants & Bookkeepers in practice can navigate the recent changes to help support their practice and clients. Click here to view past recordings and sign up for the next webinar.

Responding to COVID-19: Weekly webinars from Deloitte

Insights on the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy. These weekly webinars will be chaired by Ian Stewart, Deloitte’s Chief Economist. He will be joined by a panel of experts each week to discuss our insight on the challenges organisations are facing, how they are responding and recommendations on actions they can take today.

Click here to access these on demand.

Deloitte Academy, "Digital Transformation with Confidence" webinar

Digital brings a new pace and pressure to keep up or stay ahead amongst continuous disruption. To thrive in the new digital eco-system, your organisation needs to be digitally fluent, confident to use new digital technology in a way that won’t harm your business, your customers or the market. The aim of the discussion is to explore the following key questions:

  • How can organisations be confident to innovate in this world, where risks proliferate and trust and accountability are critical?
  • How do you achieve digital transformation safely and securely in a world where digital conduct and ethics is front page news?

Guests: Duncan Tatton-Brown, CFO of Ocado Group plc and Non-Executive Director of Trainline plc. Click here to register here for the webinar. Webinar password: 921362 

When: Tuesday 28 April, 09.00 - 10.30

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) webinars

FSB are hosting free coronavirus webinars to discuss financial help for SMEs and the self-employed. Click here to access these webinars on demand.

Aston Business School podcasts

Check out this new podcast series where Aston's top academics provide essential advice to business leaders and entrepreneurs (on a range of topics including COVID-19). Guests are interviewed by Steve Dyson, a business journalist and former daily newspaper editor who has presented dozens of regional programmes for BBC’s HARDtalk series. Click here for all the episodes so far.

KPMG webinars

KPMG will be hosting a series of weekly webinars to provide updates and discuss immediate, medium and long-term actions that can help you manage the challenges ahead. Click here to register.

When: every Wednesday, 12.30 - 13.30

Enterprise Nation 'lunch and learn' webinar

Enterprise Nation is hosting a daily 'lunch and learn' webinar to give you a boost, offer some advice, and hopefully become part of your daily business schedule during the coronavirus crisis. Enterprise Nation Founder, Emma Jones, will interview guests from the worlds of enterprise and policy and you can get your questions answered by the experts. Click here to view them all.

When: every weekday, 12.00 - 12.30

Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands daily Twitter forum

Innovation Alliance will be hosting a #IAWMhour on Twitter (@InnovationWM), a forum to see how the power of people can tackle challenges in these unprecedented times, with varying focuses daily.

  • Date: Every weekday
  • Time: 10am – 11am

Freelancing during lockdown webinars

Alison Grade, author of The Freelance Bible, will be running a series of free webinars aimed at freelancers to help them work ‘on’ their freelancing during lockdown and find new ways to deploy their skills. The first webinar will take place on three dates:

  • Wednesday 15th April 2020 – 5-6 pm
  • Thursday 16th April 2020 – 9-10 am
  • Friday 17th April 2020 – 2-3 pm

Find out more and book a place here:

Test and trace - guidance for employers and business



The NHS Test and Trace service forms a central part of the Government’s COVID19 recovery strategy, which seeks to help the nation return to normal as soon as possible for as many people as possible, in a way that is safe and protects our NHS and social care sector. Once launched, this service will also play a vital role in providing an early warning if COVID-19 activity is increasing locally, regionally or nationally. This information will then be used to inform the Government’s approach to stop the spread of the virus.

This guidance explains how employers and businesses can play their part in the NHS Test and Trace programme to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health and care system and save lives. This guidance should be used in conjunction with Link: By following the BEIS guidance employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19.

This guidance is for England only, though there are equivalent arrangements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What is the NHS Test and Trace service? The NHS Test and Trace service:

  • provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) to find out if they have the virus.
  • gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had.
  • alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to selfisolate to help stop the spread of the virus.

By following instructions to self-isolate, people who have had close recent contact with someone with coronavirus will be protecting their family, friends, colleagues and other people around them, and will play a direct role in stopping the spread of the virus. 

1. The role of employers

The NHS Test and Trace service will help to manage the risk of the virus reemerging as restrictions on everyday life are eased, as far as it is deemed safe to do so. It is vital that employers play their part by making their workplaces as safe as possible, by encouraging workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and by supporting them when in isolation. Although this may seem disruptive for businesses, it is less disruptive than an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace will be, and far less disruptive than periods in lockdown.

The NHS Test and Trace service is designed to support businesses and economic recovery by:

  • providing testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus, so that if they have been tested positive, they and their household member know to continue to self-isolate.
  • helping to stop the onward spread of the virus in the workplace and wider society, so that fewer people develop coronavirus and have to self-isolate.
  • enabling the Government to go further in safely easing or lifting lockdown measures, as far as it is deemed safe to do so, thereby allowing the nation to return to normal as quickly as possible.

To facilitate the NHS Test and Trace service, employers should encourage workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and provide support to these individuals when in isolation.

It is important the employers continue to protect the health and safety both of their workers and of other people who may be affected by their business - e.g. agency workers, contractors, volunteers, customers, suppliers and other visitors. To help employers, guidance has been developed on the 5 steps for working safely (link: and sector-specific guidance can be found here (Link: It is important to follow this guidance to help to reduce the risk of a spread of infection in the workplace.

Employers must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector such as:

  • Making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option.
  • Where working from home isn’t possible, identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace.
  • Keeping the workplace clean, maintaining safe working separation, and preventing transmission through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces.

The measures employers put in place to maintain social distancing will depend on their individual business circumstances, including their working environment, the size of the site and the number of workers. The guidance will support employers to make an informed decision. The NHS Test and Trace service does not change the existing guidance about working from home wherever possible.

Further in-depth guidance on making sure your workplace is safe for your workers and others affected by your business can be found here:

2. Workplace risk

COVID-19 is a new risk that must be incorporated into workplace risk assessments. Employers must therefore carry out a new COVID-19 risk assessment if they have not already done so. Health and Safety Executive has guidance to help you conduct a risk assessment here:

Employers have a duty to consult their workers, and unions where applicable, as part of their risk assessment. Involving workers in this will help build trust and confidence that all reasonably practicable steps are being taken to reduce risks of COVID-19, so that people can return to work safely. Employers should share the risk assessment with workers and consider publishing the risk assessment on their website.

The NHS Test and Trace service supplements the risk mitigation measures taken by employers by identifying people who have had close recent contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and advising them to self-isolate. This will reduce the risk of a rise in infections among the general population.

3. Supporting employers with a workplace outbreak

If multiple cases of coronavirus appear in a workplace, an outbreak control team from either the local authority or Public Health England will, if necessary, be assigned to help the employer manage the outbreak. Employers should seek advice from their local authority in the first instance.

4. Supporting workers who need to self-isolate 

Employers should support workers who need to self-isolate and must not ask them to attend the workplace.

Workers will be told to isolate because they:

  • have coronavirus symptoms and are awaiting a test result;
  • have tested positive for coronavirus; • are a member of the same household as someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus; or
  • have been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive and received a notification to self-isolate from NHS Test and Trace.

Employers should continue to communicate with workers in self-isolation and provide support. This includes allowing people to work from home if they remain well and if it is practicable to do so. This might include finding alternative work that can be completed at home during the period of self-isolation.

If people can’t work from home, employers must ensure any self-isolating employee is receiving sick pay and give them the option to use their paid leave days if they prefer. Further guidance is available on what employees should do if they cannot work.

Employees in self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for every day they are in isolation, as long as they meet the eligibility conditions. Information for employers on reclaiming Statutory Sick Pay can be found in this guidance:

The NHS Test and Trace service will provide a notification that can be used as evidence that someone has been told to self-isolate.

An employee can ask to take their paid holiday for the time they’re off work, entitling them to full pay for the duration of their leave, as opposed to SSP, if they choose.

5. Guidance for the self-employed

If you are self-employed, you must continue to work from home if you can. If this is not possible, the guidance on the 5 steps for working safely and sector-specific advice (Link: must be implemented for your work environment. As part of this, you must continue to think about how you can observe government guidance on social distancing for the people that you meet, such as customers and suppliers.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, you will be told to self-isolate if you or another household member develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus, or if the NHS Test and Trace service tells you to do so because you have had close recent contact with someone with coronavirus. If it is possible for you to amend your working practices and work from home, then you must do so.

If your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, you may be eligible for a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. More information on this Scheme, and other support available if you are not eligible, is available here (link:

6. Contact tracing: contact with co-workers

The NHS Test and Trace service will follow up with people who need to self-isolate because they have had close recent contact with someone, who might be a colleague, who has tested positive for coronavirus. It will do this through:

  • dedicated contact tracing staff;
  • local public health experts;
  • online services; or
  • the new NHS COVID-19 app, which will be rolled out nationally after the trial period in the Isle of Wight

When someone first develops symptoms and orders a test, they will be encouraged to alert the people that they have had close contact with in the 48 hours before symptom onset. If any of those close contacts are co-workers, the person who has developed symptoms may wish to (but is not obliged to) ask their employer to alert those co-workers. At this stage, those close contacts should not self-isolate, but they:

  • must avoid individuals who are at high-risk of contracting COVID-19, for example, because they have pre-existing medical conditions, such as respiratory issues.
  • must take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene and in watching out for symptoms.
  • will be better prepared if the person who has symptoms has a positive test result and if they (the contact) receive a notification from the NHS Test and Trace service explaining they need to self-isolate.

If the person who has symptoms has a positive test result for COVID-19, the NHS Test and Trace service will ask them to share information about their close recent contacts.

If they work in – or have recently visited or attended – one of the following settings, the contact tracing process will be escalated to local public health experts, who will liaise as necessary with the manager of the relevant setting:

  • a health or care setting, for instance a hospital or care home
  • a prison or other secure establishment
  • a school for children with special needs
  • any setting where there is a risk of a local outbreak.

In other cases, any non-household contacts who need to self-isolate will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. They will receive a formal notification (either a phone call, letter, email or text message) setting out how long they need to self-isolate for. Workers can use this notification to inform their employer that they have been told to self-isolate. Employers will need this evidence if they are going to claim a rebate for Statutory Sick Pay.

The period of self-isolation will be for 14 days from the point of most recent contact with the person who has tested positive for coronavirus.

7. The NHS COVID-19 app

The NHS COVID-19 app will form one component of the NHS Test and Trace service. It will complement other forms of contact tracing, helping to speed up contact tracing and to reach people who cannot be reached through traditional forms of contact tracing, such as someone you do not know but you have sat next to on public transport. The app is currently being trialled in the Isle of Wight before a national rollout.

For further information on the app please check the NHS Covid-19 App website:



Workers who are self-isolating because they have symptoms of coronavirus or live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, can get an isolation note through NHS111 online: Workers who are told to self-isolate should share the evidence provided by NHS Test and Trace to show that they have been told to self-isolate and explain to their employer that this means that they cannot come to work.

Workers who are already unable to work and have a ‘Fit Note’ which says they are not fit for work covering the period for which they have been told to self-isolate, must follow the public health advice they have been given.

Workers must self-isolate whenever they receive a notification from the NHS Test and Trace service asking them to do so. If this happens on multiple occasions, they should consider how you can better follow social distancing requirements.

Workers who think the contacts that have triggered these notifications are workplace contacts, should ask their employer to consider what further mitigating actions could be taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19, such as using screens to separate people or “cohorting” to reduce the number of people each person has contact with. Further suggestions can be seen at the safer workplace's guidance [Link:].

Sources of financial help

An employee who is self-isolating who can work from home must do so, by agreement with their employer. If it is not possible for them to work, employees can get Statutory Sick Pay. This is paid at a flat rate of £95.85 per week by employers for up to 28 weeks per period of sickness.

Some employers choose to offer more than the statutory minimum and provide more financial support to their employees while they are off work sick – either in terms of the rate of pay or the duration. This is known as “contractual” or “occupational” sick pay.

When an individual’s entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay ends, depending on their individual circumstances they may be able to claim Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance.

Agency workers or workers on zero hours contract who have been told to self-isolate must work from home, unless it is impossible for them to do so. If they are unable to work from home, they may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or Universal Credit whilst self-isolating in line with Government guidance. Link to SSP guidance:

Further information on guidance and support for employees during coronavirus can be found here:

Government funding support for businesses

A full range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses and employees. This page helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply. See the list of schemes below, and click the titles to read the full information. Or click here to use the new 'support finder' tool.

Bounce back loans

This scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to access loans of up to £50,000. These are 100% backed by government, with no interest to pay in the first 12 months. Applications now open.

Extended to October: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This scheme provides payroll support for all firms and enterprises in the UK. It covers up to 80% of the salary (up to £2,500 per month) of anyone not working (but retaining job) as a result of Covid-19. The monies will be in the form of a grant (not a loan).

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Business Interruption Loan. This lending scheme through the British Business Bank offers loans from £1,000 up to £5m per company with government meeting interest costs for the first 12 months.

The Chancellor is extending the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. The government is stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals.

FAQs from British Business Bank:

Government extends maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £50 million to £200 million: Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) 

The new CLBILS ensures that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. It provides a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £200 million to large firms.

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Funding will be provided via local authorities.

Business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality

100% business rates discount for all retail, leisure and hospitality venues with no limit to rateable values.

Small business grant funding

The Government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Coming soon: Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus.

Support for business 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.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. This will support companies which are fundamentally strong, but have been affected by a short-term funding squeeze.

VAT Deferral

The Government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

Deferral of Self-Assessment payment

The Self- Assessment payment on account, that is ordinarily due to be paid to HMRC by 31 July 2020 may now be deferred until January 2021.

Coronavirus Business Support Blog

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have created the Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help business get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. This blog contains additional information and resources, including:

  • case studies from businesses who have or will be accessing government support
  • posts from different people across government and business

Support for self-employed

Now open for applications: Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The scheme will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

  • The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant.
  • Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
  • Open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000.
  • The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.


To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership.
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment.

How/when can I access the scheme:

  • Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.
  • HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account
  • Grants are expected to start to be paid by the beginning of June 2020

More information available here:

Other government support

Deferral of Tax and VAT Payments:

  • All UK VAT registered businesses can defer VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 until the end of the tax year
  • The Government has deferred the Income Tax Self-Assessment payments for the self-employed due on 31 July 2020 to 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

HMRC Time to Pay:

  • HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.
  • HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559.

Extra support for the welfare system:

  • Increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance, for the next 12 months, by £1,000 per year
  • Increasing the Working Tax Credit basic element, for the next 12 months, by £1,000 per year
  • Suspending the minimum income floor for all self-employed affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus

Free support from TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People

The tax charities TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People have launched a new coronavirus support service to help people address their tax problems and claim the financial support they are now entitled to.

If you are self-employed and need urgent help with your 2018/19 tax return, call 0345 120 3779 for free, confidential help and support, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

The Government is offering financial help through its Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Part of the eligibility for this funding is that 2018/19 tax returns MUST be submitted to HMRC by 23 April 2020. You risk missing out on this essential financial support if you haven’t completed your tax return, so do it now. If you need assistance call the helpline with your: National Insurance number, Unique Taxpayer reference (UTR), Total income and total expenses from your self-employment between 6 April 2018 and 5 April 2019. 

For more information visit

Email: Helpline: 0345 120 3779 

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund

The £5 million Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business. In conjunction with cash grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future.

Find out more:

Supporting your employees & making your workplace safe

Working from home

Guidance from the government states that businesses and workplaces should allow their employees to work at home wherever possible. Employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others.

If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employer should:

  • pay the employee as usual
  • keep in regular contact
  • check on the employee’s health and wellbeing

Holiday entitlement and pay

An explanation of how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic, where it differs from the standard holiday entitlement and pay guidance. This guidance applies to those that have continued to work as well as those that have been furloughed:

Latest government safety guidance

As restrictions begin to be lifted and employees begin to return to the workplace, employers must adhere to the latest safety guidance from government.

The full guidance can be found here:

This covers a variety of workplaces, including shops, offices, constructions sites and more. Please make sure you understand and are able to adhere to the safety guidance before reopening your workplace.

New: To help employers reopen their businesses safely, the government has launched a new tool to identify the most relevant guidance for your business. The guidance highlighted will help you carry out a risk assessment and make sensible adjustments to the site and workforce.

Employees can also use this guidance to check what their workplace needs to do to keep people safe.

This guidance is only for businesses that are allowed to reopen in England and can be found here:

How to dispose of your business waste, including face coverings and PPE 

  • Provide extra bins for your staff and customers to throw away their waste face coverings and PPE used for social distancing, and any other additional waste, such as takeaway packaging and disposable tableware.
  • Make sure that staff and customers do not put face coverings and PPE in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities.
  • Make sure bins are emptied often so they do not overflow and create litter.
  • You can put used disposable face coverings and PPE in an ‘offensive waste’ collection (yellow bags with a black stripe), if you have one.
  • Ask your waste contractor if there is anything else you need to do.

Find out more here.

Coronarirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers 

This guide has been updated with more information about flexible furlough and overpayments

Social distancing and vulnerable people

'Social distancing' means:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Employers should support their workforce to take these steps.

Employers must be especially careful and take extra steps for anyone in their workforce who is in a vulnerable group. They include, but are not limited to, those who:

  • have a long-term health condition, for example asthma, diabetes or heart disease, or a weakened immune system as the result of medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • are pregnant
  • are aged 70 or over
  • care for someone with a health condition that might put them at a greater risk

Self-isolation and sick pay

  • People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is payable to qualifying employees and is now payable from day 1 for those who self-isolate or are unwell because of COVID-19 (the first 3 days are normally unpaid). The current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week.
  • HM Treasury has announced that small and medium sized employers (those with fewer than 250 employees) may recover this cost where SSP has been paid as a result of COVID-19 from 13 March for a maximum of two weeks’ sickness per employee.
  • There is currently no existing mechanism for the recovery of SSP by employers (unlike other statutory payments such as Statutory Maternity Pay) - The government has committed to working with employers in the coming months to work out a mechanism for this recovery
  • Qualifying businesses will need to keep records of sickness and sick pay because of COVID-19 and days of sickness for future recovery.
  • Employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note as above.

If an employee needs time off work to look after someone

  • Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependant') in an unexpected event or emergency. This could apply to situations to do with coronavirus.
  • A dependant does not necessarily live with the person, for example they could be an elderly neighbour or relative who relies on the person for help.
  • There's no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.
  • The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.
  • If a dependant such as a partner, child or relative in the same household gets coronavirus symptoms, they should receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a minimum for this time. They’ll also need to follow self-isolation guidance on GOV.UK.

Travelling safely

Click here for the government guidance on safe travel for you and your employees.

Cleaning your workplace

Click here for the government's guidance on cleaning (non-healthcare) workplaces. 

Offices and shops - risk assessment

Click here for guidance on how to carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations about changes to apprenticeships due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated information on furloughed apprentices, end-point assessment, functional skills apprentices and qualification certification. Click here to find out more.

Parental leave for furloughed workers

Furloughed workers will receive full parental leave entitlement. Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate. Find out more here

Useful resources (from CIPD)

Employee mental health and wellbeing

Employers should do everything they can to ensure their employees are supported emotionally as well as physically. Mental Health at Work have produced a useful toolkit with resources from Mind, City Mental Health Alliance and Mental Health First Aid England, to give you everything you need to provide that support.

Click here to access the Mental Health Toolkit.

Birmingham Mind support helplines

Mental Health and counselling support service for people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Call 0121 262 3555 (9am to 11pm) for a one-off chat or longer-term support with free counselling/talking therapies.

There is also a Keyworker Counselling service. The service is ready to work with keyworkers who need support with their Mental Health at this difficult time. Call 0121 633 1217 (9am to 5pm) to book in.

Both services are free and staffed by experienced/qualified counsellors.

COVID-19 and domestic abuse

The government has published a toolkit for helping to recognise the signs of domestic abuse, and a list of all the help available. As an employer or colleague you may be in a position to help somebody who is in danger. Please see these resources here:

Government calls for equipment/services

Tell the government how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus

The support needed includes things like:

  • medical testing equipment
  • medical equipment design
  • protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • hotel rooms
  • transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • manufacturing equipment
  • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • social care or childcare

You’ll be asked some questions about the type of support you can give. You’ll then be contacted as soon as possible if your support is needed. You’ll need your company number if you have one. Click here for more information or to offer your services.

New: Plea to businesses to help protect our carers with PPE supplies

A call to arms has been issued to the region’s army of manufacturers and small businesses to join the COVID-19 fight by manufacturing or donating protective clothing for carers and other frontline workers.

The West Midlands is the biggest regional hotspot for coronavirus outside London. The Mayor has written to local business organisations and is asking them to pass on the call to their members and networks as a matter of urgency.

To register your interest email with your company details. These vital supplies can then, as required, be procured and allocated by local authorities and private community-based organisations who support and care for vulnerable and unwell people across the West Midlands.

Items needed include:

  • type IIR/FFP2/FFP3 Facemasks
  • disposable sleeveless aprons
  • disposable aprons with sleeves
  • disposable Nitrile gloves
  • goggles
  • hand sanitiser 

Innovation grants

Innovate UK will invest up to £20 million in innovation projects. Applications must demonstrate both realistic and significant benefits for society (including communities, families and individuals) or an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Closes on 17 April.

Click here to find out more and to apply.

Volunteer for the NHS through MedSupplyDriveUK

Roles that volunteers may take on: 

  • Managing social media and communications · Outreach to donors and securing pledges
  • Outreach to healthcare providers
  • Coordinating donor pledges with PPE requests
  • Logistics
  • Collections and deliveries (would be helpful if you had a car)
  • Sorting and categorisation of donations
  • Scientific evidence updates

Click here to register or find out more:

Requests for medical supplies:

Call for businesses to help make NHS ventilators

The government is looking for businesses who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK as part of the response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you think your business can help, further details and the specification of the minimally clinically acceptable ventilator, along with some preferred options, to be used in UK hospitals during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here.

Appeal for the supply of COVID-19 Antigen Testing Kit

The BIA is helping the UK Government (Office for Life Sciences) to raise awareness of an urgent call out to the life sciences sector to help increase the supply of antigen testing kits for COVID-19.

The requirement is for commercial supply of the following:

  • Full testing packages
  • Any of the separate components within the testing package
  • Any alternative tests government should be considering

Any organisations that can supply for sale any of the above can find further details and a full specification here.

The University of Birmingham puts a call out for PPE equipment for local NHS trusts in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

The University of Birmingham is working with is research staff and local partners to identify suitable surplus PPE which could be shared with our local NHS trusts in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Any face, eye and body protection is gratefully received including gloves, goggles, face masks (particularly FFP2/3 and 3M), face shields etc. Ideally this would be sterile medical quality, but such is the dire need all donations are welcome. Oxygen is also needed but this must be surgical quality. If you are able to support please contact Joe McDowell at the University at or on 07843175332.

Sector specific support

Many Sector Representative Bodies have put together supportive and practical guidance, utlising their expertise, on a range of specific topics. The below is not a comprehensive, but you may find it a helpful starting point for further advice.

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

ICAEW are offering UK practical business advice on their dedicated coronavirus hub. Detailed advice is available for the following:

  • Employers
  • All businesses
  • Self-employed
  • Small businesses
  • Small & Medium businesses • Large businesses
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
  • Nursery businesses

Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

Companies should consider whether to refer to the possible impact of COVID-19 on their business in their reporting of principal risks and uncertainties. Where mitigating actions can be taken, these should also be reported alongside the description of the risk itself. As well as possible inclusion within a company’s disclosures of principal risks and uncertainties, the carrying value of assets and liabilities might also be affected with a need to perform additional impairment tests and to assess whether leases have become onerous.

All updates issued by the FRC with regards to the COVID-19 Virus response can be found here.

This includes further guidance on:

  • Government Business support
  • Guidance for companies & auditors
  • Stay Home – Stay Safe
  • Corporate Reporting Moratorium
  • Extended Filing Guidance
  • AGM’s & COVID-19
  • FRC Update
  • Guidance for Auditors
  • Guidance on Audit issues
  • Advice to Companies & Auditors

Sport England - Community Emergency Fund

Any organisation delivering community sport and physical activity can apply to Sport England's fund if it’s experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the impact of coronavirus. They'll be prioritising organisations that work with under-represented groups - see the fund criteria for more information.

Culture Central: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Arts & Cultural Organisations

The Culture Central team are working hard to support and be the voice of the cultural sector in Birmingham and the wider region during the Coronavirus pandemic, (see a statement from their Director Erica Love about our immediate response here) and as part of this activity Culture Central have put together a list of online resources available to support organisations throughout the Coronavirus outbreak.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England have put forward emergency measures and funding to ensure the people and organisations that make up their arts, museums and libraries are protected during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Emergency Funding package will offer individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector new financial support during this crisis, totalling £160 million. Arts Council England have re-purposed all their investment strands to be able to offer this support. These emergency funding streams will be open to applications shortly.

Support for funded organisations and individuals is also available, with an update on all current live funds, including information about whether a fund is temporarily on pause, or if application deadlines have changed. There is also further information for organisations and individuals already in receipt of Arts Council funding, and any changes we've made to them.

Full details and contact details can be found at:

Musicians: Advice and support for performing artists can be found at:

Make UK

Make UK is working to ensure manufacturers have the correct and update to information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Make UK have a dedicated hub on their website dedicated to the Coronavirus outbreak and its impact on manufacturing. The latest expert advice on pay, absence and travel can be found here.

FAQs are available for; people matters, issues at the workplace, COVID-19 and childcare issues for employees, lay-off and short-time working and financial support for Business.

Silicon Canal

In response to growing concerns about social distancing across the local tech community, Silicon Canal have released a video titled ‘Surviving self-isolation during the COVID-19 crisis’, it can be viewed here.

UK Bio Industry Association (BIA)

BIA have provided key information on the COVID-19 outbreak for BIA member companies and the life sciences sector. Resources aim to help businesses during this time and highlight important work across our sector that is helping to tackle the outbreak.

Find out more on:

Register for BIA’s weekly Coronavirus webinar by clicking here.

Business advice: external resources and guidance

Many Business Representative Organisations have put together supportive and practical guidance, utlising their expertise, on a range of specific topics. The below is not a comprehensive, but you may find it a helpful starting point for further advice.

Local Authority Coronavirus Discretionary Grants

Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme.

What you get:  You can get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000.

Eligibility:  You’re potentially eligible if your business:

  • is based in England
  • has fewer than 50 employees
  • has fixed building costs such as rent
  • was trading on 11 March 2020
  • has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

These are the local authorities covered by the GBSLEP area and links to their discretionary grants pages. Not all are open for applications yet, while some have already set their application deadlines so please keep checking back or look out for updates from us:

Birmingham City Council:  NOW CLOSED

Bromsgrove District Council:,-funding-finance/covid-19-help-for-businesses-and-self-employed.aspx#discretionary  NOW CLOSED

Cannock Chase District Council:  NOW CLOSED

East Staffordshire Borough Council: NOW CLOSED

Lichfield District Council: NOW OPEN - applications will close when funding is exhausted

Redditch Borough Council:,-funding,-finance/covid-19-help-for-business-and-self-employed.aspx#discretionary  NOW CLOSED

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council: NOW CLOSED

Tamworth Borough Council:  ROUND 2 NOW OPEN - closes 27 August

Wyre Forest District Council:  NOW CLOSED

The Government has asked local councils to prioritise businesses such as:

  • small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as units in industrial parks or incubators regular market traders
  • bed and breakfasts paying council tax instead of business rates
  • charity properties getting charitable business rates relief, which are not eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief

Local councils have discretion about how to prioritise this funding. Please check with your council for details of their scheme.

Updates from local authorities – how can I access a grant and rates relief?

In response to the Coronavirus the Chancellor announced small businesses who receive Small Business Rate Relief are eligible for a grant of £10,000. A further grant of up to £25,000 will be available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value for business rates purposes of between £15,000 and £51,000.

Grants will be administered by Local Authorities. Further details and eligibility criteria can be found above in the ‘funding support for businesses’ section.

We are in contact communication with partners to ascertain the latest on process for administering grants and rates relief. Further information will be coming soon.

Birmingham City Council

2 April update Business rates grants form now live here:

Birmingham City Council have already sent out the annual 2020/21 business rates bills with the previous discount amounts (Retail Relief at 50% and Pub Relief at £1,000.00). They will be issuing amended bills at the new higher-level amounts as soon as possible.

Birmingham City Council will also be identifying properties that now qualify for Retail Relief due to the expansion of the qualification criteria. These businesses will have already been sent out the annual 2020/21 business rates bills without any discount. They will be issuing amended bills with the discount awarded as soon as possible. Please be patient as they are still awaiting some further details and have a lot of accounts to respond to.

The council is trying to prevent any Direct Debit payments from being requested on 1 April 2020 for businesses who will have nothing to pay for 2020/21. If a payment is taken on 1 April and you believe that you shouldn’t have anything to pay, then please contact your bank directly who will arrange for the payment to be returned to your account.

Bromsgrove District Council

Grants will be paid to businesses by the borough council without the need for businesses to apply or to contact the council, unless we contact you. We have been advised that Government will make the funding available to us in early April to enable us to pass this on to businesses.

We will prefer to pay the grant by BACS transfer. If your business is eligible and we do not have bank account details for your business already (for example, because you do not pay business rates by direct debit or standing order), you can expect us to contact you over the next week to ask for the details.,-funding-finance/covid-19-help-for-businesses-and-self-employed.aspx 

Cannock Chase District Council

If you occupy a retail, hospitality or leisure business, we will be applying the 100% discount for 12 months automatically and will write to you shortly with a revised bill. You do not need to apply for it. If we believe that you qualify, we will not be claiming your April Direct Debit payment.

Grants: You do not need to do anything. We will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

East Staffordshire Borough

With regards to business rates, the Council has announced that it intends to award the revised retail discount relief to all relevant accounts in the next few days and issue confirmation of the awards to those ratepayers, along with revised business rates bills showing no rates liability for 2020/21.

Ratepayers who pay by Direct Debit and who are awarded this relief will not have payments requested from their bank for their 2020/21 liability.

(new) Small Business Grant Funding - If either Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief are shown on your Business Rates bill and you do not pay your Business Rates by Direct Debit, we do not hold any bank details for you. We’ll need you to confirm your business’s bank details in order to make a payment to you.

(new) Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funding - A grant of £10,000 for businesses with a Rateable Value of up to £15,000 and a grant of £25,000 for businesses with a Rateable Value of between £15,001 and £50,999. If you do not pay your Business Rates by Direct Debit, we do not hold any bank details for you. We’ll need you to confirm your business’s bank details in order to make a payment to you.

Please go to the Coronavirus Business Rate Relief page for more information and to submit your business's bank details.

Download the small business grant funding form

Lichfield District Council

Rates relief

There is no action for you. We will re-issue your bill, excluding the business rate charge as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will not be taking out business rates by direct debit from any businesses that had already qualified for the business rates retail discount as shown on the original business rates bills or where we have identified more businesses under the revised scheme.

We are also advising all businesses that pay by a different method, such as online or by cash, which had also already qualified for the discount, that they do not need to pay their business rates bills this coming financial year.

If you do not receive an amended bill by 8 May 2020, please contact us to apply for the discount by emailing our revenues team or calling 01543 308900.


We will send an information request to all eligible businesses in the next few days by email and post. In it we will ask local businesses to provide further information through an online form, which will go live soon.

Please be aware the letter will be sent to your registered business address, which you may have vacated.

If you have any queries about the grants, please email our economic development team or or call 01543 308900.

Redditch Borough Council

Grants will be paid to businesses by the borough council without the need for businesses to apply or to contact the council, unless we contact you. We have been advised that Government will make the funding available to us in early April to enable us to pass this on to businesses.

We will prefer to pay the grant by BACS transfer. If your business is eligible and we do not have bank account details for your business already (for example, because you do not pay business rates by direct debit or standing order), you can expect us to contact you over the next week to ask for the details.,-funding,-finance/business-rate-payments/covid-19-help-for-businesses.aspx

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (updated 2 April)

Following the recent Government announcements, Expanded Retail Relief will give eligible businesses 100% relief from their business rates in 2020/21. Further details can be found on our business rates page where you can also find information on cash grants for small businesses.

Details of eligibility can be found here:

If you think your businesses is eligible, you can complete the online form here:

Tamworth Borough Council

If you are eligible to receive the Small Business Grant Fund, you will be contacted directly by Tamworth Borough Council and do not need to do anything. If you have not heard by 3rd April, please contact

Wyre Forest District Council

Wyre Forest District Council is contacting local businesses they believe are eligible for financial support.

The council’s Revenues Team is calling all businesses they think are eligible. Business owners will be asked to provide some details over the phone, or they can email them to They are also reminded to make sure they supply their account number as shown on their business rates bill.

It is not expected the Government will give councils the funding until early April. Once the funding has reached Wyre Forest District Council, it will be distributed to all eligible businesses in the district. 

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