Coronavirus Support Pages

Business support and advice overview

For more information on COVID-19, visit This website from Government ( 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.

Apply for a Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund

Apply for a Small Business Discretionary Grant (for businesses previously not eligible for COVID grants - decisions will be made on 19 June)

This page includes information on:

1) Government support

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary and targeted measures to support businesses.  The government is making available an initial £330 billion of guaranteed loans to support businesses, in addition to the support announced in the budget.

This package of measures include:

  1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (announced 20 March)

    All UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

    HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement as current systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

    Businesses will need to:
  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify y employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

It is understood that the wage subsidy will apply to firms where bosses have already had to lay off workers due to the coronavirus, as long as they are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence.

  1. Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments (announced 20 March)

    Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments can be deferred for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

    For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. All UK businesses are eligible.
    This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.
    Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

    Income Tax
    For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.  All self-employed people are eligible.

    This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

    No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

    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.
  2. Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
    There will be legislation that will allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
  • 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
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of SSP 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

               You are eligible for the scheme if your business is UK based and is a small or medium-sized      business and employs fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.

               Further details will be provided in due course once the legislation has passed.

  1. A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England

This is for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  1. Your business is based in England.
  2. Your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.

The properties that will benefit are those that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

               There is no action for business. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020.                Watford BC will reissue bills automatically to exclude the business rate charge.

  1. Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

The government will provide additional funding for the council 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 of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR, to help meet their ongoing business costs.The council will know more in April.

  1. Cash grants £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

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

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the council.

  1. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will be launched early next week (w/c 23 March) to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.

Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.

               You are eligible for the scheme if:

  1. Your business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £41 million per annum.
  2. Your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

               To find out more, visit British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the                Scheme once it has launched. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

  1. A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans

               Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short                term      debt from larger companies.

               This will support companies affected by a short-term funding squeeze

               All UK businesses are eligible. The scheme will be available early in week beginning 23                March 2020. More information is available from the Bank of England.

  1. The HMRC ‘Time To Pay’ Scheme

    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. You are eligible if your                business:              pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities

           If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.

2) Insurance

Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met. 

However, most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies, are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.

3) Extension to companies house filing deadline

Companies House and the Financial Reporting Council have confirmed that all companies with imminent filing deadlines – predominantly 30 June 2019 year-ends which are due for filing by 31 March 2020 – will be granted a two-month extension.

If you are in the situation that your annual accounts are not yet finalised and may not get completed by the filing deadline, you must still contact Companies House. However, they are automatically accepting Coronavirus as a reason and providing a two-month extension.

4) IR35 delayed

The government have announced that the proposed changes to IR35 would be delayed until April 2021 in response to the pressure Coronavirus has put on businesses and contractors.

The chief treasury secretary Stephen Barclay told the House of Commons: “This is a deferral in response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 to help businesses and individuals. This is a deferral and not a cancellation and the government remains committed to reintroducing this policy”.

Once the effects of COVID-19 have settled, businesses and contractors should re-visit the position later this year, in order to make preparations well in advance of 6 April 2021.

5) Hertfordshire LEP survey

The LEP is keen to hear form businesses about how they have been affected so they can prepare the support you need:


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