Coronavirus: Support for SMEs


We've updated our blog - click the button below for the most up to date SME support available

With the country and the world reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re entering uncertain and worrying times. First and foremost, the ReLondon’s Business Transformation Team hopes everyone in our community is staying safe and healthy. We’ll be working from our respective homes for the foreseeable future and we’ve cancelled some of our events but rest assured we’ll still be doing our best to support London SMEs in the mission to make London a low carbon, circular city.

We realise that, for small businesses, Covid-19 poses a real threat, whether due to a drop off in business or sickness affecting a small team, so we’ve pulled together some of the guidance and measures put in place so far to support small businesses get through these difficult times. We’ll add to it as and when new information is released.

In addition, if you can spare 2 minutes for our very short survey, we’d like to hear from SMEs how the virus and the measures put in place to contain it have affected your business so far and what may happen in the near future. We’d like to share this with out wider network with the hope of encouraging and shaping business support measures.


Click the button below to tell us how your business has been/will be impacted by Covid 19

Government support

19/08/2020 – Applications Open for Second Self-employed Support Grants

Self-employed people whose trade has been adversely affected by coronavirus can now apply for a second grant from the Government.

The Government’s coronavirus support scheme for the self-employed has opened for a second and final batch of claims. Individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 can now apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits.

More info here

10/08/2020: Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus

Part of Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ includes the introduction of a Job Retention Bonus, providing additional support to employers who keep on their furloughed staff in meaningful employment, after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ends on 31 October 2020.

The Bonus is a one-off payment to UK employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the CJRS scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021. Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. Employers will be able to claim the Bonus after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021.

More info to be released in Sep 2020.

The government have put together package of measures to support small businesses including:

Information on all of this can be found here.

There may be slight differences in the support available for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

10/08/2020: 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.

01/06/2020: Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme

The government has announced that from 1st July, businesses will be able to bring furloughed employees back part time. For June and July, the government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries but fom August 2020, the level of government support will be tapered. Key dates:

  • 30 June – the scheme will close to new entrants so the final date an employee can newly be put on furlough is 10th June
  • 1 July – employers able to bring furlough employees back part time
  • 31 July – cut of for employers to claim furlough for June
  • August – the government will pay 80% of wages (up to £2,500), employers required to pay the ER NIC and pension contributions
  • September – the government will pay 70% of wages (up to £2,187.50), employers required to pay 10% of wages and the ER NIC and pension contributions
  • October – the government will pay 60% of wages (up to £1,875), employers required to pay 20% of wages and the ER NIC and pension contributions

More info on the changes here.

01/06/2020: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) extended

The SEISS is being extended meaning individuals will be able to claim a second, final grant in August for 70% of their average, monthly trading profits. This will be paid out in on instalment to cover 3 months of profits capped at £6,570.

Individuals can still apply for the first grant (80% of profits up to £7,500) until 13 July.

More info on the changes here.

20/05/2020: Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget 2020 as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme allows employers with fewer than 250 employees to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.

Employers will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. Employers are eligible if they have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started before 28 February 2020 and they had fewer than 250 employees before the same date.

The repayment will cover up to two weeks of SSP and is payable if an employee is unable to work because they:

  • have coronavirus; or
  • are self-isolating and unable to work from home; or
  • are shielding because they have been advised that they are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Online claims open on 26th May. Check your eligibility here.

20/05/2020: Local Authority Descretionary Fund

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Local authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief but they may also choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.

There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000.

More info here but businesses should refer to their local authority for details.

28/04/2020: Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders and the government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

To be eligible, your business must:

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • be based in the UK
  • have been negatively affected by coronavirus
  • not have been an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

More here.

20/04/2020: Future Fund for innovative and research intensive businesses affected by Covid 19

The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.

These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and launches in May.

More info here.

03/04/2020: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – Extended

For small and medium-sized businesses, the new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will help any viable SME with a turnover of up to £45 million to access government-backed loan finance of up to £5 million. Interest payments and any lender-levied fees for businesses will be covered by the Government for an initial period of up to twelve months.

Update: To maximise the support available, the chancellor has extended the initiative to include all viable small businesses, not just those that are unable to secure regular commercial financing. The government will also stop lenders asking for personal guarantees for loans under £250k and will be speeding up approvals.

CBILS is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website here.

Decision-making on whether you are eligible for CBILS is fully delegated to the 40+ accredited CBILS lenders. These lenders range from high-street banks, to challenger banks, asset-based lenders and smaller specialist local lenders.

In the first instance, businesses should approach their own provider – ideally via the lender’s website. They may also consider approaching other lenders if they are unable to access the finance they need.

31/03/2020: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Extended to Oct 2020

Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers starting 1st March 2020.  Any UK organisation can apply for the scheme.

To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.

Read more here.

27/03/2020: Self-employment Income Support Scheme

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your average trading profits for 2016/17-2018/19 up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

Eligibility criteria:
You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

More here.

26/03/2020: Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF)

All businesses in England in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system and meet the criteria below will be eligible for a payment of £10,000:

  • your business is based in England
  • you are a small business and already receive SBRR and/or RRR
  • you are a business that occupies property

You don’t need to do anything. You local authority will contact you if you are eligible. You can find you local authority here.

26/03/2020: Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the following cash grants per property:

  • Rateable value up to £15k – £10,000
  • Rateable value of £15k-£51k – £25,000
  • Those with a rateable value over £51k or those that do not pay business rates will not be eligible

Properties that will benefit from the relief 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 and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

You don’t need to do anything. You local authority will contact you if you are eligible. You can find you local authority here.

Funding opportunities

10/08/2020: 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. Since its launch in April, over 5,000 Londoners have donated over £320,000 to support their favourite local businesses.

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

20/05/2020: Salesforce Small Business Grants

As part of Salesforce’s commitment to small businesses and giving back to the community, Salesforce is partnering with Enterprise Nation to offer eligible small businesses the opportunity to receive a £5,000 grant to help them through the COVID-19 outbreak.

To be eligible to apply, companies must:

  • Be registered at Companies House
  • Been established for at least 12 months
  • Have not received any other cash grant during 2020 in relation to COVID-19 from any Government
  • Be based in the UK with a British bank account
  • Have between 2 to 50 employees

Applications will open region by region. London applications (South of England) are open 15th-21st June.

Read more and apply here.

18/05/2020: Innovate UK Continuity Grants and Loans

Innovate UK are providing up to £90 million in continuity grants, paid upfront, to SMEs and third sector organisations who are existing Innovate UK award holders and who are at risk of abandoning their project due to a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds directly related to COVID-19.

These grants are for eligible organisations that expect to have a funding gap (between £25,000 and £250,000) in the remaining period of their project because they are facing loss or damages, such as reduced access to capital, cancelled orders or increases to costs, and are therefore seeing cashflow disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read more here.

14/05/2020: Small Business Advertising Support Fund

Small businesses can apply for a tailored advertising package worth £3000 from Mail Metro Media. The ad fund gives access to print advertising in Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Metro and i. Online ads will also run across MailOnline and, offering further support to your campaign.

Read more here.

06/05/2020: SME100 AdSmart Support Scheme

Sky’s £1m SME Support Scheme will provide 100 businesses with TV advertising campaigns via AdSmart to support them during the difficult times.

SME100 is open to SMEs that have been running for at least one year in the UK with up to 50 full time employees. Businesses can nominate themselves or be put forward by their own customers. Sky Media is encouraging people to highlight the businesses in their local area that need support during this time and who would benefit from accessing the power of TV advertising at a moment when TV consumption has significantly increased.

More info here.

Pay It Forward: Crowdfunding for London businesses

The GLA are facilitating 100% free fundraising to help businesses secure trade by pre-selling vouchers, goods and services. Businesses can set up a profile on the platform that allows customers to pre-purchase ‘rewards’ to be redeemed when London re-opens.

Read more here.

16/04/2020: Covid-19 Business Pivot Challenge

OpenIDEO is inviting participants to share inspiration and ideas for how businesses can pivot to meet the new needs of their communities and customers in light of Covid-19. Five selected submissions in the fields of internet of things, AI, and mobile data and technology will be eligible for $10,000 in seed funding.

Read more here.

15/04/2020 Southwark Council: Business Hardship Fund

Businesses either registered or trading in Southwark that are not eligible for the government schemes may be eligible for a grant of up to £10k.

To be eligible, the business must:

  • be registered and trades in the London Borough of Southwark
  • have fewer than 10 full time equivalent employees; and
  • be facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that affects its ability to continue to trade and threatens permanent closure

Details on how to apply here.

15/04/2020: London Community Response – 2nd round

Registered charities, CICs, charitable companies and other community-based organisations can apply for either:

  • Crisis response – up to £10k to cover immediate needs of communities
  • Delivering differently – grants of £10-£50k to change the way those organisations deliver their services to meet the needs of the community e.g. switching to digital channels or redeploying staff

Details on the focus themes of the funding and the types of costs that can be covered can be found here.

More information here.

06/04/2020: The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund (for 18-30 year olds)

The £5million 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.

Grants can be used to maintain core business operations during the crisis, as well as meet any existing financial commitments, such as paying for essential equipment or settling invoices from suppliers. Additionally, grants will also support young people to diversify their business to respond to opportunities created by the crises.

To be eligible to apply, you must be a business owner aged 18 to 30, who set up their business in the last four years and don’t have any other source of income during the crisis.

More info here.

03/04/2020: Innovate UK – Business-led Innovation in Response to Global Disruption (de minimis) Competition

Innovate UK (IUK) has opened a one-off competition to help UK businesses focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries, during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. By fast-tracking innovation, it is expected that the UK will be better placed to maintain employment levels, a competitive position in global markets and make the country more resilient to similar disruption.

Businesses can apply for £25-£50k from a fund of £20m with solutions which tackle the new or emerging societal or industry needs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, including but not exclusively:

  • community support services
  • couriers and delivery (rural and/or city based)
  • education and culture
  • entertainment (live entertainment, music, etc.)
  • financial services
  • food manufacture and processing
  • healthcare
  • hospitality
  • personal protection equipment
  • remote working
  • retail
  • social care
  • sport and recreation
  • transport
  • wellbeing

Applications are due by 17th April. Click here.

03/04/2020 COVID-19 Emergency Surplus Food Grant

Defra is making £3.25m available through the Resource Action Fund administered by WRAP. The COVID-19 Emergency Surplus Food Grant will be delivered in three phases.

Phase 1 support starts straigh away, with WRAP approaching a target list of small redistribution organisations who have applied previously to the fund to ascertain their immediate need for potential funding support.

Phases 2 and 3 launched on Thursday 9 April. Phase 2 will provide funding opportunities for small surplus food redistributors, phase 3 will provide funding support aimed at medium to larger operators.

The grant can be used to fund both capital and revenue costs associated with redistribution activities such as;

  • access to surplus food through logistical collections
  • sorting, storing, freezing, labelling / repackaging food
  • onward distribution of food to charities or end beneficiaries

Read more here

30/03/2020: Action Against Corona gathers initiatives, partners, volunteers and talent. It connects initiatives with grants or investments and provide explosure for ideas, projects and startups doing the most important work in the world right now with the aim of increasing the likelihood of their success and mitigating the damage caused by this global crisis.

Organisations and initiatives can apply for funding, be added to a list of other initiatives and ask for help while individuals can offer their skills and talents.

Read more here.

26/03/2020 TechForce19 Challenge: Funding for Innovators Creating Digital Tech for Self-isolators

The TechForce19 Challenge has been launched to provide funding for innovators who can find digital ways of supporting people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Government believes that new technologies can help the vulnerable, elderly and self-isolating as coronavirus continues to spread.

Selected companies will receive funding of up to £25,000 out of a total of £500,000 to develop or test their COVID-19 solution in the areas of:

  • Remote Social Care
  • Optimising Staffing in Care and Volunteering Sectors
  • Mental Health

Further information here.

24/03/2020 Crowdfunder: Pay it Forward

Crowdfunder are offering 100% fee-free funding for small businesses along with support from Enterprise Nation. They’re providing the tools to pre-sell meals, events, hotel bookings or whatever for cash now on a promise people can redeem the services at a later date.

More info here.

24/03/2020: Facebook Small Business Grants Programme

Facebook is offering US$100 million (approximately £84 million) in cash grants and advertising credits on its ad platform for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. The funding is intended to help firms in the following ways:

• Covering operational costs.
• Helping with rent costs.
• Connecting with more customers.
• Maintaining a strong workforce.

More information 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.

Capital Enterprise: Startup Resilience Hub

Capital Enterprise have developed a range of online events and support to to help startups navigate through the period of uncertainty presented by Covid-19. Aimed at startups of any size or status the hub includes webinars, mastermind accountability circles, AMAs, articles and an online network of fellow founders.

See the programme contents here.


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.

West London Webcast

West London Business are launching a new web series to help employers and employees manage the business impacts of Covid 19. The first one is on 19th March.

You can read more and register here.

Keep the circular discussion alive

ReLondon have joined up with our friends at the Circular Economy Club London to set up a space in which we can discuss circular economy matters and continue to collaborate. The goal is to keep conversations going during difficult times; and ensure that we’re keeping up the momentum towards a low carbon future for the city and beyond.

We’d love you to join us on Slack by using this link.

The CEC London and ReLondon teams will be online on the channel between 10am and 11am every Friday morning for the foreseeable future – so please log in and get involved, ask questions, provoke debates and connect with CE colleagues to share good practice.