Coronavirus: Support for SMEs – Updated


With the country going back into lockdown, we’ve updated our SME support blog with the latest support available for SMEs. If there’s something ReLondon’s Business Transformation team can do to help your business, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at, we’re here to help!

Government support

We’ve listed the key available initiatives below. For details on all Government-provided financial support for businesses during the pandemic visit the website here.

Paying Employees

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The furlough scheme has been extended for to April 2021 (previously only until Dec 2020) – salaries will continue to be paid at 80% of their current level up to a maximum of £2,500 per worker each month, and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage.

Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time, and will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for the average claim, accounts for just 5% of total employment costs.

The Job Support Scheme that was due to replace the furlough scheme and the Job Retention Bonus planned for February has been postponed with the government planning to deploy an the schemes when the furlough scheme ends.

Read more here.


Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

SMEs can claim back statutory sick pay paid to current or former employees due to coronavirus.

Read more here


Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension

The self-employment income support scheme is being extended from 1 November 2020 for 6 months. The grant will be paid out in two lump sums covering 3 month periods. The first period from 1 November 2020 – 31 January 2021 will be calculated at 80% of the 3 month average trading profits, capped at £7,500. Details of the period 1 February – 30 April 2021 will be released later.

Read more here


Local Restrictions Support Grant

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) was designed to support businesses required to close due to temporary COVID-19 local lockdown restrictions imposed by the government. This support is currently being revised and more information is to follow.

Read more here

Other Loans and Grants for SMEs

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) provides local councils with grant funding to support closed businesses that do not directly pay business rates as well as businesses that do not have to close but which are impacted. In addition, larger grants can be given than those made through LRSG (Closed).

Local councils have the freedom to define the eligibility criteria.

Read more here.


Local Restrictions Support Grant (LSRG)

Businesses closed due to the national lockdown (5 Nov – 2 Dec) (LSRG Closed Addendum)

Businesses that were open as usual, but were then required to close between 5 November and 2 December 2020 due to the national restrictions imposed by government may be eligible for LRSG (Closed) Addendum. To be eligible, your business must:

  • be based in England
  • occupy property on which it pays business rates (and is the ratepayer)
  • have been required to close because of the national restrictions from 5 November to 2 December 2020
  • have been unable to provide its usual in-person customer service from its premises

Read more here


Businesses that remain open (LSRG Open)

Businesses that have not had to close but which have been severely impacted due to local restrictions (Local COVID alert levels: High or Very High) may be eligible for LRSG (Open). To be eligible, your business must:

  • be based in England
  • be in an area subject to ‘High’ or ‘Very High’ local restrictions since 1 August 2020 and has been severely impacted because of the local restrictions
  • have been established before the introduction of Local COVID alert level: High restrictions
  • not have to close but has been impacted by local restrictions

Support will be determined by your local authority and be based on on the rateable value of the property on the date of the start of the local restrictions. Local councils have the freedom to determine the precise eligibility criteria for these grants. However, it is expected that funding will be targeted at hospitality, hotel, bed & breakfast and leisure businesses.

Read more here


Businesses forced to close due to local restrictions (LSRG Closed)

Businesses that were open as usual and were then required to close due to local restrictions (local COVID alert level: Very High) may be eligible for LRSG (Closed). To be eligible, your business must:

  • be based in England
  • occupy property on which it pays business rates (and is the ratepayer)
  • bein an area of local restrictions and has been required to close because of local restrictions that resulted in a first full day of closure on or after 9 September
  • have been required to close for at least 14 days because of the restrictions
  • have been unable to provide its usual in-person customer service from its premises

The grant will be based on the rateable value of the property on the first full day of local restrictions.

Read more here.


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The scheme helps SMEs access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million and is open until 31 March 2021. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months.

To be eligible, a business must be UK-based, have a turnover of less than £45m and be adversely impacted by coronavirus. It must also not have a been categorised as ‘in difficulty‘ before  31 December 2019 and would be viable if not for the pandemic.

Read more here.


Future Fund

This scheme issues convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.

These convertible loans may be an option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

The scheme is open for applications until 31 January 2021.

Read more here


Bounce Back Loan

The scheme helps SMEs borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover (max loan available: £50,000). The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year. The scheme is open to applications until 31 March 2021.

To be eligible, a business must be UK-based, established before 1 Mar 2020 and adversely impacted by coronavirus.

Read more here.


Business Rates Relief

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses may be eligible for a business rates holiday. If you are eligible, your local council will apply the discount automatically  and reissue your 2020/21 bill, there is no need to apply.

Read more here

Creating Jobs

Kickstart Scheme Grant

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
  • Associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
  • £1,500 per jo placement for set up costs and personal development for the employee

A Kickstart Scheme application must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. However, if cannot provide this many job placements, you can find a Kickstart gateway, such as a local authority, charity or trade body for help applying. Gateways can be found here.

Read more here


Financial Support for Apprenticeships – Employer Incentive

Apprenticeships are jobs with training, that benefit people of all ages and backgrounds. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, employers may be facing challenges with hiring new apprentices. In response, the Government has introduced incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice.

Through the scheme, employers in England are being encouraged to take advantage of new cash incentives designed to create more high quality apprenticeship opportunities so more people, particularly young people, can kick-start a rewarding career.

The scheme provides employers that hire a new apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021 with a payment of:

£2,000 for each new apprentice aged 16 to 24
£1,500 for each new apprentice over the age of 25

Read more here

Funding opportunities

Back to Business Fund

Pay It Forward London enables businesses to raise vital funds and stay afloat, rebuild and recover from the impacts of Covid-19 through crowdfunding.

Through the Back to Business Fund, the Mayor will match every pound raised by a business up to a maximum of £5,000 – or 50% of their campaign target – to help them expand their operation online, invest in their future and adapt to safe, socially distant trading.

Start crowdfunding here

Innovate UK Continuity Grants and Loans

Innovate UK can provide additional COVID-19 innovation continuity loans for the continuation of planned or existing Innovate UK funded innovation activity.

This funding is for SMEs and third sector organisations who are at risk of not continuing innovation activity due to a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds directly related to COVID-19. Loans of between £250,000 and £1.6m are available.

Read more here.

Other resources

Resources from the London Growth Hub

The London Growth Hub has collated a range of resources including:

  • Preparation Checklist
  • Guidance for businesses and employers
  • Government support
  • Financial support for businesses

You can read more here.

KTN: Covid-19 hub

KTN have pulled together the key initiatives, funding opportunities, events and advice for small businesses in their Covid-19 hub.

Click here for more.

Newable: Support and Events

Newable have a number of schemes put in place to support businesses through this period as well as running a series of Covid-19 webinars.

Click for more info and events.

Confederation of British Industry

The CBI have put together information, advice and recommendations for businesses of all sizes covering government support, legislation, employment, meetings and events, cleaning and health in the workplace and supply chain issues.

They also hold daily webinars covering a variety of topics.

Click here.

Federation for Small Business

The FSB has a useful Q&A section on a variety of topics affecting small businesses including government support, business rates, which businesses are required to close and other actions to take.

Find all information here.