Covid-19: Business Advice


The Government have set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs.
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance.
  • Funding to cover 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month until the end of April 2021.
  • A £1.25 billion package including; £750 million of loans and grants for innovative businesses. and; up to £250 million from the Government for an investment fund for high-growth companies.
  • A Bounce Back Loan scheme to support SMEs negatively affected by COVID-19.
  • The application deadline for all coronavirus loans schemes has been extended to 31 March 2021.
  • A ‘support finder’ tool for businesses, driven by a short questionnaire, this tool is designed to help business owners quickly identify what financial support is available to them.

Please check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure you are acting on the most up to date information.



Research & Innovation Funding

With so much information for businesses to digest at the moment around funding, we’ve put together a list of some of the main Research and Innovation (R&I) funding opportunities available.


Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The government have announced a new Bounce Back Loan scheme to support SMEs negatively affected by COVID-19. The loans are intended to be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application with funds reaching businesses within days – providing immediate support to those that need it.

Businesses can apply for loans between £2k-50k, terms of the loan include:

  • Interest and fee free for the first 12 months.
  • No capital repayments for the first 12 months.
  • 100% guaranteed by the UK government.

If you have taken out a government guaranteed loan they can now be extended from 6 to 10 year terms. Options to make interest only payments or temporarily suspend payments will be available. The application deadline for all coronavirus loans schemes has been extended to 31 March 2021.

Local Authority Discretionary Grants

The discretionary business grant scheme reopened to help eligible businesses with property costs such as rent, commercial mortgage payments and service charges. The release of extra funds also means we will extend support grants forced to close due to current lockdown measures, which will now cover the period from 5 January to 31 March (previously 15 February).  More information on business grants is available.


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The CBILS scheme supports small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.

  • The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. This means smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.
  • The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.

CBILS has been extended 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. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme. Please find more information on the dedicated CBILS FAQ’s page.

If you have taken out a government guaranteed loan they can now be extended from 6 to 10 year terms. Options to make interest only payments or temporarily suspend payments will be available. The application deadline for all coronavirus loans schemes has been extended to 31 March 2021.


Recovery Loan Scheme

When the CBILS and Bounce Back loan schemes come to an end on 31 March 2021, they will be replaced by a new Recovery Loans Scheme with loans between £25,000 – £10 million. More information to follow shortly.



HMRC support

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 and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. These businesses can:

  • Call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
  • Visit HMRC website for more information.


Time to Pay

HMRC have increased their capacity to deal with and approve deferrals to tax payments. Accessed via the helpline (0800 0159 559) you will need to provide a range of information in order for an approval to be made.

This information will most likely include: an outline of the business (size, number of employees, recent history, basic financial position with regard to profit / loss); why the business is currently experiencing cash flow pressures; what self-help (cash generation, preservation, mitigation) measures have been initiated? Actions taken with suppliers and customers – payments on account, deferral plans etc; description of plans to get back to stability and return to paying HMRC liabilities as and when they fall due; shareholder/ Director position; other sources of funding being considered.


The government will:

  • Provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). A £10,000 grant will be provided to businesses currently eligible for SBBR or Rural Rate Relief. You will not need to apply. This will be administered by the local authority who will pay this directly to businesses from early April 2020. Any enquiries for Leeds City Council regarding business rates should be sent to 
  • Temporarily increase the business rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value.

The government has postponed the planned Business Rates revaluation. A revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of coronavirus.



General guidance:

The government has updated its advice for businesses delivering goods and services abroad that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. This guidance includes what financial support is available for businesses trading internationally.

The Department for International Trade can support businesses by providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products; and offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity. 

The Department for International Trade Yorkshire & Humber team can be reached via phone, video call or email, all of their services will now be delivered through digital means to ensure the safety of everyone.

If businesses you need to speak to the department for advice and support on how COVID-19 is impacting your business or don’t have an International Trade Adviser yet, you can contact them on 0300 365 1000 or email 

Clarification has been added on the guidance for the freight transport industry on international travel following government advice for British nationals. Please visit GOV.UK for further information.


Licence applications:

The Department for International Trade has revised arrangements for processing licence applications during the COVID-19 outbreak. More information can be found on GOV.UK


Duty Deferment scheme:

HMRC has released guidance on how to request an extension to the payment period for import duty/import VAT payments. Deferment is not automatic and requires immediate action. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office 03000 594243 or by email or the Coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222.

Businesses who deferred their VAT will not have to pay a lump sum at the end of March 2021, they will have the option to split these up into smaller payments over 11 months.


Export Insurance Policy (EXIP):

UK Export Finance announced it is expanding the scope of its Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) 

This policy covers transactions with the EU, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA with immediate effect. Previously these markets, which account for 74% of all UK exports, were considered to be ineligible for export insurance as being too low risk.


A service to apply for more time, up to 3 months, to file your annual accounts with Companies House has been announced.

Applications take around 15 minutes to complete and to get started you’ll need: company number, an email address, information about your extension reasons and any documents that support your application (optional).

Companies House will temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register.

As an emergency response to coronavirus (COVID-19), a temporary online service has been developed to upload a number of completed forms and send them to Companies House digitally.