New data published today reveals that the North East has received more than 41,000 facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).  These schemes provide financial support to businesses across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Businesses across the North East have benefited from more than £1.4bn in funding to protect and support jobs across the region.

  • More than 39,900 loans worth more than £1.1bn have been offered under the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme
  • More than 1,500 loans worth over £344m have been offered under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

More than 41,000 loans have supported businesses across all sectors, protecting jobs, but the retail and construction sectors have benefited the most, demonstrating how this financial support helped those businesses that were impacted hardest by the pandemic, helping to keep people in work.

To find out more:

  • Read the British Business Bank news story
  • Download a constituency-level breakdown of lending under CBILS and BBLS

Join the conversation: We'll be tweeting from @BritishBBank throughout the day.  Please like, share and join the conversation.


The government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions, the Chancellor announced today, 9 October.

  • Job Support Scheme will be expanded to support businesses across the UK required to close their premises due to coronavirus restrictions
  • government will pay two thirds of employees’ salaries to protect jobs over the coming months
  • cash grants for businesses required to close in local lockdowns also increased to up to £3,000 per month

Under the expansion, firms whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work - protecting jobs and enabling businesses to reopen quickly once restrictions are lifted.

The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

"Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed.

"I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.

"The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time."

Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and only asked to cover NICS and pension contributions, a very small proportion of overall employment costs.  It is estimated that around half of potential claims are likely not to incur employer NICs or auto-enrolment pension contributions and so face no employer contribution.

Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.

The scheme will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review point in January.  In line with the rest of the JSS, payments to businesses will be made in arrears, via a HMRC claims service that will be available from early December.  Employees of firms that have been legally closed in the period before 1 November are eligible for the CJRS.

The scheme is UK wide and the UK Government will work with the devolved administrations to ensure the scheme operates effectively across all four nations.

This comes alongside intensive engagement with local leaders today on potential measures are coming in their areas.

In addition to the expansion of the JSS, the government is making the Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme more generous so that businesses in England can receive up to £3,000 per month, and are eligible for payment sooner, after only two weeks of closure rather than three.  This could benefit hundreds of thousands of businesses, including restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, bowling alleys and many more.

The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a £1.3 billion increase to their guaranteed funding for 2020-21 - allowing them to continue their response to Covid-19 including through similar measures if they wish.

These measures will sit alongside the original JSS - which is designed to support businesses that are facing low demand over the winter months - and the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus (JRB) which encourages employers to keep staff on payroll.

They build on the government’s wider package of unprecedented measures to help protect, create and support jobs through the pandemic, to ensure that nobody is left without hope or opportunity.

Further information

  • Further details on the expanded JSS can be found on this factsheet: Job Support Scheme Expansion for Closed Business Premises (PDF, 72.1KB, 3 pages)
  • For photos please see our Flickr.
  • Further guidance on the scheme will be set out by HMRC in due course.
  • This scheme will cover businesses that, as a result of restrictions set by one or more of the four governments in the UK, are legally required to close their premises.  This includes businesses that are required to provide only delivery and collection services from their premises.  To be eligible employees must be employed and an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 23 September.
  • Under the scheme, employees will need to be furloughed for a minimum of seven consecutive days at any given time and the payments to employers will be made monthly in arrears.
  • The government is now making this scheme more generous so that businesses receive up to £3,000 per month, rather than up to £1,500 per three weeks, and they are eligible for payment sooner, after only two weeks of closure rather than three.
  • Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive grants of £667 per two weeks of closure (£1,334 per month).
  • Properties with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive grants of £1,000 per two weeks of closure (£2,000 per month).
  • Properties with an rateable value of £51,000 or over will receive grants of £1500 per two weeks of closure (£3,000 per month).
  • The government is also extending the scheme to include businesses which have been forced to close on a national rather than a local basis.
  • In July we announced an unprecedented guarantee that the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would receive a minimum of £12.7 billion in additional resource funding this year.
  • Today the UK government is uplifting that by £1.3 billion, to at least £14 billion.  This means at least £7.2 billion for the Scottish Government, £4.4 billion for the Welsh Government and £2.4 billion for the Northern Ireland Executive, on top of their Spring Budget 20 funding.
  • We will also continue to help local authorities.  Those at the highest levels of incidence will continue to receive targeted funding based on population size to support test, trace and contain activities at this stage of the national Covid-19 response.  This is on top of £3.7 billion in grants to address Covid-related pressures, and £300 million for local authorities to develop outbreak plans, already allocated across England.
  • The government has previously committed £400 million to support local authorities’ Test, Trace and Contain Activities in England:
    • £300 million has already been allocated for local authorities to develop local outbreak plans
    • the remaining £100 million is being allocated to local authorities as ‘surge funding’ in areas of local restriction
    • £20 million of this £100 million has already been allocated based on population size, including to local authorities in Leicester, Lancashire, the North East, Merseyside, and the West Midlands
  • Broader government support to local authorities in England due to Covid-19 includes:
    • over £3.7 billion of un-ringfenced grant funding to help them respond to pressure across all their services
    • over £1.1 billion ringfenced to support social care providers, helping to tackle the spread of the virus
    • a down payment of £50 million to set up and run the Test and Trace Support Payment - £500 for low-income workers who can’t work from home and are told to self-isolate - and we will fully fund the costs of this scheme, including £15 million in discretionary funds
    • we’re providing a further £30 million to LAs improve compliance with and enforcement of non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as self-isolation and business closures) over the next four months, including through COVID Marshalls.


It’s the end of July already so it seems like a good time to take stock of what we’ve all achieved together.

DBN is a team effort delivered by our members for our members.  Since 1st April we’ve had 20 online events, reviewed 19 members websites, produced 17 newsletters, had a great event at Beamish Museum and delivered bespoke support to over 100 local businesses.  We’ve also been able to pay the experts in our network to deliver mentoring to other members.

Best of all, we've had lots of emails and messages to say “thank you DBN”!

We’ve been recording many of our workshops and these are being edited and uploaded to our website for our members to access from next week.  This is a DBN members-only benefit and if you're not a member you can easily join via the DBN website.

We’ve also had a great response to our requests for podcast volunteers (or is that volunteers to be podcasted?).  The first four completed will win an adult pass to Beamish Museum and once we have them recorded, we'll be announcing the winners.

Our #DOBUSINESSLOCAL campaign is attracting a fair bit of attention from as far away as Portugal and we’re going to be really pushing this campaign over the next few months to help boost our local economy.

At the start of the crisis we suspended our membership renewals to help our members out.  From 1st August we need to charge for membership again but at just £99 for a whole year we reckon we have to be the best value business network around.  We’ve introduced easy payment packages so you can spread the cost too.


“Are you your own sales prevention officer?"... “How you communicate and how you are perceived is your responsibility”...“Be memorable and give them a memorable experience”

Just three of the quotes from this week’s Visual Marketing project workshop that will make us think about our own visual marketing...

Over the past few weeks we’ve been delivering a programme of masterclasses and workshops that we’re very proud of.  These serve two purposes.  One, is to give new skills to our small business community and the other has been to highlight the wealth of talent within DBN.

We’d like to shout out a huge thank you to Ann English and Gillian Fortune who, over the past four weeks, have delivered our Visual Marketing Project.  They put so much hard work into preparing this and we know that their efforts have been hugely appreciated by everyone involved.

Lets embrace being online!

Running a small business takes many of us on a journey of learning, listening and adapting and DBN is no exception.  Now that we’re very much part of a digital business community, we’re going to embrace it!

We’ll be expanding our online programme of masterclasses and meetings and soon DBN members will have exclusive access to videos and business podcasts as well as opening up some international business opportunities too.  Who said change is a bad thing?


It's time to tell your business story...

Every business is unique, has its own personality and has a good story to tell. Over the past few weeks we have been organising lots of workshops aimed at helping you to communicate what makes your business special and link with customers who are interested in what you offer. We'd like you to put your new skills into action by telling us your story. What makes your business special and perhaps, what is different about it now. Just send your business story to us with a photo and we'll feature these on our website and social media. It's not a test and we're not looking for perfection, we just need your business story please!

We're keeping our workshops going and resuming monthly networking meetings (online)...

Our online workshops have been a big success and we're going to keep them going, so please send your ideas and suggestions for future topics in to us. We genuinely miss meeting up in person with everyone but we've been asking our members how they feel about face to face events and overwhelmingly they are telling us they would prefer to wait and meet virtually at present. We feel more comfortable with that too. But we do miss our networking sessions, hearing your news and learning something useful from our guest experts. So with that in mind, we're going back to online networking meetings on the third Tuesday of every month (just like the old days!) at 9am for one hour starting on 18th August.

Our BIG programme of events and masterclasses:

  • 15th July - Visual Marketing Project - Present yourself with Confidence
  • 17th July - Bloom Local Authority Procurement Workshop with FSB
  • 20th July - Beamish Museum Test Day arrive 10:30am (Fully Booked)
  • 22th July - Canva Training - From Beginner to Expert in Under Two Hours with Melanie Cant
  • 29th July - Showcase your Superpower and turn ideas into reality with Ann English
  • 5th August - Video editing with James Ibbitson - an introduction to film editing with (free) HitFilm Express software
  • 5th August - Networking with our Neighbours Event - a joint networking meeting (online) with Darlington, Northallerton, and Richmond Business Clubs together with DBN
  • 18th August - DBN Monthly Networking Meeting


Our #DoBusinessLocal campaign seems to be getting a fair a bit of interest already.  We’ve even had messages from other areas of the UK wishing us well and thanking us for championing support for local businesses.  We have details below on how you can help to get involved in our campaign.

Great news, Beamish Museum have allocated us some extra tickets for their Test Day on 20th July.  We have 15 more available on a first-come-first-served basis.  We'll be admitted at 11am but it will be helpful if we can arrive at 10:30 am to help trial the car parking and traffic management systems.

A big thank you to our very own David who this week alone has responded to over 150 emails – as one of our members said to him recently “you’re a superstar” and we’d certainly agree with that!

And another big thank you to James Ibbitson for helping us to make amazing videos earlier this week and to Ann English and Gillian Fortune for delivering the second workshop of the Visual Marketing Project.  This time we were looking at the all important topic of branding.

We’re in the process of setting up some great new features on our website ( including giving DBN members access to the new video training library that we’ve been building up over the past few weeks.


A busy week here at DBN...

Earlier this week we recorded an online conversation with Clare Wheeler of Business Cogs Ltd on how to unlock your business safely.  We'll be making it available next week and Clare has some great ideas on how to make your safety messages memorable and engaging.

Ann English and Gillian Fortune (a dream team if ever there was one!) delivered the first of four masterclasses on how to make your business look amazing through Visual Marketing.

We're launching our #DOBUSINESSLOCAL campaign to encourage everyone to support local businesses.  We especially want to help our Local Authorities to identify and place contracts with local businesses. 

Organisations like DBN are in a great position to give support to our Local Authority procurement teams as we have extensive knowledge of local suppliers and their capabilities.  We would like to extend the offer of help in supporting Local Authorities to identify good local suppliers who give the best value, acting as an extension of their internal procurement team, all while helping to bring much needed new business opportunities into SMEs who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Today (26th June) we are co-hosting a meeting with the FSB and Darren Knowd, Chief Procurement Officer at Durham County Council to focus on opportunities for small businesses.

For skills and education we're inviting our local schools and colleges who are looking for work placements for students to engage with us.  We are setting up virtual online work placement opportunities with local businesses to give real work experience and to help inspire our next generation of entrepreneurs!

And this evening, we're having a conference call with Richard Holden MP to exchange information on how we can support our small business community.


We have some great examples of businesses in DBN that are starting to bounce back. Many have switched to delivering services online and others have started offering home deliveries or adapting their workspace to keep safe, and we have masterclasses to help with all of these! 

These are positive signs but we know that many small businesses are going through a very tough time and we want to help them. This is why we’re delivering our big programme of support in response to requests from our members.
Over the next few weeks we’re offering support with:
  • Unlocking your business
  • Checking and improving your online presence
  • Adapting to reach new customers

And we’re delighted that DBN members only have been invited to test out our much loved Beamish Museum prior to its reopening.

Please sign up for our events and take advantage of the support currently available as it won’t be available forever!

DBN Update (12th June)

DBN is at heart of a great business community and we aim to give the very best support, skills and advice to our members. Quite a lot of what we do goes on behind the scenes.

We know that one size doesn't fit all and that is why we harness the expertise of our members to deliver hands-on, bespoke support to other businesses. We even pay them to deliver this and that way we can support two businesses at the same time as well as helping the local economy. We're proud of this because we believe it's what makes DBN special and means that we can offer unique benefits to our members.

Thanks to our members subscriptions, sponsorships and awards from Derwent Valley and Chester-le-Street AAPs we are able to deliver not-for-profit bespoke support to small businesses across a wide area.

Here's an article about our work to support businesses in the Derwent Valley in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

DBN UPDATE (5th JUNE 2020)

Many of our members place business with other members, it’s something we’re really proud of.  Word-of-mouth referrals have always been important to business success.  Before they consider doing business with you, new customers are likely to look for online reviews about your business.  Trust plays an important part when marketing your business and if other people have cared enough to write about their experience, this reassures other people that your business will deliver a great experience to them too.

Why not set a goal to make June the month to ask for testimonials or simply offer to write one to someone you’ve purchased from?  You can use them on your website, social media marketing and build collecting testimonials into your marketing strategy.

DBN UPDATE (29th MAY 2020)

We're all on a journey with our businesses

A big thank you to Moira Barnes and to everyone who attended our Selling Success Masterclass earlier this week.  We’ll be making it available online to our members along with Melanie’s Zoom Masterclass over the next few days.

For many of us, our business model has changed since the crisis began.  This also applies to DBN.  In just a few weeks DBN has evolved a completely different delivery model to ensure that we give lots of support to even more local businesses.  We're working hard to retain that special sense of community and trust and based on the feedback we’ve received, we seem to be getting it right.  Our members have been contributing lots of ideas, giving us tons of support and getting involved at every opportunity.

We reckon we won’t need a big relaunch or grand announcement about how we’ve changed the direction of DBN because we have been there for our members and our members have been with us every step of the way giving us lots of ideas and encouragement throughout.  Your support is amazing and we're very thankful for it!

We'd like to thank Ann English for capturing Moira’s sales masterclass perfectly in this incredible doodle.

Ann told us that she has now delivered 22 #FREEDAY business planning sessions and by moving many of her services online, she is finding new customers as far away as the USA.

Having an engaging online visual presence has never been more important than it is these days and Ann will be delivering her DBN Virtual Visual Marketing Taster Session on 17th June to make your business really stand out.

To book your #FREEDAY business planning session with Ann or to find more about her services, please email or click here to visit Ann's website.

DBN UPDATE (22nd MAY 2020)

Challenging times can bring some opportunities too

Our aim is to help to build a thriving and informed small business community.  This week, we’d like to share examples of business innovation and resilience, highlight some of the support available and acknowledge the very real challenges that some businesses are facing, especially those in hospitality and tourism sectors.

We're all keen to get our businesses up and running at full strength again as soon as possible but many of you have expressed concerns that if we rush these things we could see second wave and a tightening up of lockdown again.  So, even if it’s going to be a slow journey, we still need to do some business planning now so that we don’t have to rush things at the last minute!

Please take advantage of business grants and loans

Please be sure to apply for all the grants your are entitled to and also consider sources of funding such as the Business Bounce Back Loan even if just as a financial safety net.

John Forbes of JR Forbes Electrical has done just that.  John told us that the online application process was very simple and the cash reached his bank account very quickly.  These loans are on very favourable terms and some businesses like JR Forbes are keeping this money in reserve in case they need it to ramp up their business very quickly again after initial lockdown period ends.  If they don't use it, it's there to be paid back but in the meantime they have secured a financial safety net for the business.

CBIL loans have been more difficult to access but several of our members have applied and been successful. Businesses such as Enspec Power in Washington have successfully applied and will be using that money to invest in equipment and even extra staff to help them to break into new markets and develop new services later this year.  They have also used the lockdown period to redesign and launch their new website.

Shop around to lower your overheads

With so many deals and offers around, it's a great time to review your business costs such as insurance, utilities and premises and explore ways to save money. There are some good deals out there at present, especially on utility bills, so it's an ideal time to test the market and find out if you can make some savings.

Safety and your suppliers

Make sure you plan safe work spaces.  You'll need to protect yourself, your staff and your customers too.  You may need to reassure your customers that it's safe to do business with you.  How you communicate this could become an important part of your future marketing strategy?

And be sure to stay in touch with your suppliers.  You might be ready to start trading again but are your suppliers? Its worth checking in with them from time to time.

DBN UPDATE (15th MAY 2020)


Since the crisis began, so many of our small businesses have been demonstrating their ability to innovate.  While we might not always have the financial reserves of large organisations, we certainly seem to have the ability to adapt and change much more quickly.
It was great to chat with some of our members at our Zoom with DBN this week.  And it was especially rewarding to hear examples of our members supporting each other.  For example; Pauline Thompson at Imago Skincare recently put her live video training with James Ibbitson into practice to deliver an online facial treatment which was a big success.  Pauline is now bouncing with confidence and can’t wait to do another.  It’s a great example of independent businesses working together.
The announcement by the government to extend the furlough scheme is most welcome and will throw a lifeline to many businesses and jobs.  We know that people would much rather be at work but it’s a much-needed safety net for jobs in these uncertain times.  It seems that the Business Bounce Back Loan scheme is working very well and apart from some experiences with one big high street bank, feedback from our members has been very positive.


You ARE amazing!  We're really proud of the way our small business community is dealing with this crisis.  Your resilience, adaptability and creativity is amazing.

A big thank you to all our members who have been in touch to say they really value and appreciate what we're doing to support them during the crisis.  It's great to know that we're making a difference.  New members are joining DBN every week and we'd like to give a shout out to Alison Dore who contacted us to say . . .

"I've been really enjoying DBN Zoom and the connection with yourselves and your amazing and inspiring members. As you know, I've been coming along to DBN as a guest of Melanie after she asked me to join Elm as a strategic partner. Having the privilege of listening to all the wonderful advice and support that you and the other members are giving, I would love to become a member in my own right .... if you'll have me? I think that DBN is an amazing community of people, who genuinely care about and support each other and would love to be part of it."

We're absolutely delighted to welcome you Alison and look forward to seeing you at our meetings and online events.  Thanks to everyone who attended our mini-masterclass on how to make the most of Zoom with Melanie Cant.  The feedback has been terrific.

"Just a quick note to say thank you for the information you provided in yesterday’s webinar. I found the session on the tools and the settings on Zoom very useful. I have purchased the Pro version as I will be delivering my first online training courses next week, so am on a steep learning curve, but the information you provided, especially with regards to breakout rooms, will help me to set them up correctly. Please let me know if you are planning any other webinars. In the meantime, please accept my best wishes and stay safe. Kind regards, Philip Cooper, Managing Director PHILXAM Limited."

What does your future business look like? Book a 1-1 confidential Zoom meeting with us and let's get planning!

We're here to help you to "get your head around" where your business is going.  Simply drop us a line at to book your meeting with us on Zoom and we will take you through some future business planning and help to create an action plan for your business.  It's completely confidential.  And if you need extra support with a specific issue, we'll put you in touch with other DBN members for expert advice.

Coming in June - Virtual Visual Marketing with Ann English and Gillian Fortune

Whether your business is operating online or in the high street, visual marketing is key to attracting and winning customers and improving your sales performance. With support from Business Durham DBOP Programme, Ann and Gillian will be delivering a series of four online workshops to create tangible business growth for members of DBN focused on key workshop topics. Developing display, design and communication skills to confidently present their brand, products, services, and most importantly themselves. The workshops will enable our members to attract attention and engage with customers and prospects, both in person face-to-face and virtually online, resulting in increased sales.

You can pre-register your interest by emailing us here:

We're Doing Business in Derwent Valley

As part of our Derwent Valley AAP funded project, we'll be running a series of online mini-masterclasses every Wednesday starting on 27th May. We're still working on the running order but we'll be covering topics such as:

  • Smarter sales online and in person
  • How to make your business look great online
  • Productising your services to boost sales
  • Finding and winning new customers
  • Using your social distancing policy to reassure your customers

More details at our next Zoom meeting on Wednesday. Which leads nicely into . . .

Join our Zoom Networking Meeting on Wednesday, 13th May

Our next DBN get-together is on Wednesday 13th May at 10 a.m. and we'd love to see you there.  We'll be sharing lots of business news and information and giving our members an opportunity to deliver training and workshops with local businesses.  We also encourage everyone to have fun at our meetings.  Gillian Fortune will be testing her new "Zoom superpowers" with us and sharing a technique to help us stay calm and positive.  Gillian currently has Covid-19 but she's in great spirits and all we all wish her a full and speedy recovery.  A big germ-free virtual hug to Gillian from all your friends across the DBN community and we look forward to you joining us on Wednesday.  If you need the link for the Zoom meeting, please drop us an email at


Life has changed . . . fast.

As you know the Coronavirus situation has changed significantly over the last couple of weeks and the situation changes daily.

Clearly we can't run a DBN meeting in the light of the recent Government advice so we are postponing meetings until we know that a gathering of people poses no threat.  We are keeping an eye on what Boris Johnson PM, Sir Patrick Vallance (UK's chief scientific adviser) and Professor Chris Whitty (UK's chief medical adviser) have to say in their daily press conferences.

We're very sorry about this but our priority must be to protect people and try to prevent the virus from spreading.

Please keep safe and look after yourselves. We'll be in touch every week with business news, advice and support.  Keep an eye out on our website for even more updates!  We have created a repository of important links and articles.  We aim to keep you updated on important information from the Government, free webinars covering some great topics and business advice and support.


We’ve been in touch with lots of members over the last couple of weeks through social media, emails and Zoom meetings and it’s brilliant to be able to help and support our local businesses.  It’s great to know that people are keeping OK and to see so much kindness and community spirit. And it's fantastic to see so many of us adapting our businesses at such a fast rate!

It is also reassuring to know that it isn’t just us who seem to be having great difficulty in remembering what day of the week it is... 

It's time to think about business
Sadly, that big business switch-on and end-of-corona-virus party isn't going to happen!

It’s much more likely that the economy will reopen very gradually over an extended period of time and that buying habits and spending power might be very different on the other side of this.  Working and selling online is likely to be the new norm for many of us with far less physical interaction over the next few months.
We have a plan...
In a lockdown period it’s difficult to imagine how and when we’ll get our businesses back up and running again but we need to start thinking about it right now.  We're working with our members on a 1-1 basis to go through a simple planning process and offer bespoke business support that will help you to be ready to “hit the ground running”.

Zoom Meetings

We love to share top tips, news, asking what kind of courses people would be interested in and setting up a DBN member to member support training group and answering your questions.  So please join us on a future Zoom for a catch-up (keep an eye out for dates).  And if any of you would like to spend 5 minutes contributing advice or ideas during our meeting, just let us know and we'll be sure to hand over to you.

We'd love to hear from YOU . . .

We'd love your help to grow our amazing network and would be very grateful if you could leave a Facebook Review to tell other business owners why they should consider joining DBN . . .


Over the past three weeks we've been linking lots of members up with each other to give each other support.  Michael Harriott at Business Durham came up with an idea to start a business buddy programme and we think it's a great idea.

So if you are feeling a bit isolated at present, please be assured that you are not alone and we'd love to hear from you.  Several of our members have already offered to give support to others.  It can be anything from a general chat to offering help and advice about specific things.
A virtual coffee and a chat can often work wonders so please get in touch if you would like to get involved as a Buddy or would welcome a chat. Our email address is

We’re here to support you and your business throughout this difficult time and we’ll be right there to help to you to get up and running again just as soon as the crisis is over.

Here are some of the ways that DBN can help your business right now:

  • Advice and signposting to sources of grants and loans
  • Selling online
  • Guidance on scheduling your workload when the crisis ends
  • Free marketing audit
  • Developing effective social media content and using the right platforms
  • Business planning, new markets and growth
  • Cash flow guidance and planning
  • Planning your big relaunch after the crisis
  • Sales strategy review
  • Keeping in touch with your customers
  • Advice on dealing with suppliers
  • Thinking outside the box for your business
  • Managing stress and anxiety

We set up DBN as a non-profit company with the sole purpose of supporting our local small business community while covering our operating costs. So if you need help for your business right now, please get in touch. 

We're here to help you.  Just a reminder, our email address is


Are you keeping in touch with your customers?  Your customers are still out there even if you're not actively trading at present.  So please don't forget to stay in touch with them.

A friendly "keep in touch" message is all it takes and is really important when people are feeling more isolated and worried about their business.  But please maintain a light approach and no going into aggressive "full sales mode" please!

Keep your business relationships open even if your business isn't fully operational at present.  An idea: why not having some snazzy postcards made that could be sent to your customers and contacts just to say "Hello" and "How are you"?  A handwritten card works wonders and they'll be a greater chance that they will remember this personalised approach.


We've had to quickly adapt to different ways of doing business while learning how to use some new tools. The feedback from our virtual meetings has been really positive and several of our members have had business enquiries and leads following the meetings. So please don’t just assume that people have stopped buying at present.

Let's remind ourselves why we network:

  1. Making business contacts
  2. Building relationships
  3. Learning something such as "how to..."
  4. Sharing news and information
  5. Reducing isolation and building community

We didn't mention selling because if you attend a networking event to sell on the day, you'll probably be disappointed. There's no better way to create a big exclusion zone around yourself than pushing a hard sales technique at a networking meeting either virtually or in person!

It's a longer-term investment. Helping people to understand what you do, how you can help them, that you're a professional person to deal with. And that approach works. Over 60% of DBN members do business with each other or recommend members to someone they know. Like any relationship, it takes time to develop.

Virtual networking still enables you to make new contacts, tell people what you do and follow-up afterwards. And as our members are reporting business enquiries after virtual meetings, they seem to be effective. And you don't even have to drive to get there!

As we all adapt to different ways of doing business we'll learn to overcome the camera shyness and master the technology in time - it's a learning curve for all of us at present. Please give it a try, join us, relax and be yourself and learn to love virtual networking - we think it's going to be around for quite a while!


We're encouraging people to send in short 1-2 minute videos.  Gillian Fortune and John Atkinson have both sent in brilliant videos and we're really grateful to them.

I've made a video too (out of my comfort zone!) and should have kept the outtakes.  The first attempt was fine but upside down.  Try again . . . the phone was balanced on a speaker and I was balanced on the arm of a chair and I fell off as soon as I started speaking . . . Third time lucky!  Did James Ibbitson really say making a video is easy?

If you're worried about anything or just need a chat - please drop us a line ( or call at any time. We're all in the same situation during this crisis and we WILL get through it together.


We hope you're managing to stay fit and well and keeping your businesses ticking over. If you need help with things such as getting more of your business services online, we can help you. We want to ensure that our businesses are ready to swing back into action just as soon as the crisis is over.

In the meantime, it's a good opportunity to review your business, refresh your products and services, marketing materials, websites and social media content and if you are stuck for ideas - there's lots of people in DBN who can give you help and inspiration. Just get in touch with us. You can even practice making video content . . .


Hello, how is everyone doing? We hope you're well and making the best of what is a very difficult time for everybody. We've been answering lots of questions and putting members in touch with each other to give support - it's what makes DBN special.

Our 45 minute recent conference call with Richard Holden MP was a positive and practical discussion. We were especially concerned that self-employed people were being left with little or no support so it's great to see this is now being addressed. We also passed your questions and concerns to the other local MPs too so that everyone is on the same page.


Businesses need lots of help and support at this difficult time.

We're working with other networks and organisations to co-ordinate packages of vital support for our businesses. This week, we'll be speaking with MPs and local authorities about urgent help for our business communities. We want to ensure that it is effective and properly co-ordinated.
It's really important that we understand what support will be the most useful to your business at present.

For example:
Rent / rates relief, help to sell and deliver more online, tax breaks, ability to work away from your normal workplace, paying wages, dealing with suppliers, an injection of cash, enforced or advised closures etc.

Your feedback is really important. Please email us at

Your feedback will help us to campaign to get the right support for you and your business and will benefit the whole business community.

Stay safe and in good health everyone and we hope to see you again soon.

Best wishes,

The DBN Team

Business Durham Guidance to employers and businesses about COVID 19

FSB COVID-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed

Business Advice from Visit Britain

North East Growth Hub Guidance for businesses and employers on COVID-19

BBC Website - updates reguarly



Grants – up to 40% contribution.

A business must be looking to spend at least £2,500 excluding VAT on a digital project.

Our minimum grant is £1,000. Our maximum grant is £2,000 (case by case basis)

Businesses must have the money to pay upfront, then reclaim the grant following proof of purchase (an online application needs to be made first).

Funding can be used for the following:

  • Digital consultancy (e.g social media, video creation, IT consultancy, setting up internet telephony)
  • Digital Equipment (e.g laptops for remote working, video equipment etc)
  • Website/software/apps
  • Broadband installation and equipment/improvements (excludes monthly subscriptions, building work/streetworks).

We have a fast track application in place and can turn these around within 7 days or less.


If businesses want to access our free health check (takes about 20 mins), they can do so by registering here. We can provide tips and tools along with useful advice on how to improve your social channels, website (if applicable), use of cloud technology, digital marketing and content planning, cyber security and visibility across the web. This can also be followed up with a virtual appointment/call with a Digital Adviser.


NBSL speeding up our online services to support your need

Businesses across Derwentside are regularly applying to the North East Business Support Fund to seek grants to update their business models or improve their communications through the use of digital technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve been no different from any other business looking at ways to improve delivery mechanics through the use of digital technology.
It takes less than 15 minutes to complete our online application process and our advisors can now handle our whole contracting process virtually.  We’ve taken our contracting service online and our remote support service allows for a rapid turnaround service to businesses across Derwentside & beyond ensuring clients can start projects quickly.  We’re proud to say we’re supporting a number of clients in Derwentside right now with our speedy grant service.
Our internal teams continue to talk through Zoom, our enhanced systems provide a swift and supportive service and we find our networking with you all – virtually – fabulous.  But we’ve not just improved our digital dialogue with our clients, our masterclasses have now moved online allowing us to deliver personal and tailored support on a range of different subjects.

For our team at NBSL, although difficult to work remotely at times, we’ve taken the opportunity to look at our business and take time to look at our customer experience – we hope we can help you do the same.

Take good care of yourselves,
Sara Williams - Marketing Manager


The sheer determination of North East businesses to adapt during the COVID-19 crisis has been incredible to see and support.

We've paid out £118,000 in ERDF grants to 60 North East SMEs during March from a range of funds to support businesses to adapt or improve their services.  Even in these challenging times, we remain fully operational and our fuss-free online application service takes less than 15 minutes to complete.

We’d love to find even more businesses to support during April.  Can we help you?  We've still got £220,000 available to businesses in County Durham and £75,000 currently available in Tyne & Wear and Northumberland - these grants could really help your marketing or business process projects.

We found this useful article in the NBSL Newsletter: How to run your business from your phone.



Government Announces Additional Support for Businesses and Self-Employed

The Chancellor has announced additional support for businesses and the self-employed this afternoon.

Broadly the new package includes a new Jobs Support Scheme to protect millions of returning workers, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality & tourism sectors and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans.

In summary, the changes announced:

Jobs Support Scheme

From the 1st November, the Jobs Support Scheme will run for six months.  Staff must be working at least 33% of hours to qualify for the support. 

How it will work - Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work - but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.

Self Employment Income Support Scheme

The Government will continue the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

How it will work - An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus.  The initial lump sum will cover three months' worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year.  This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

This will continue from February to April unless there are some significant changes.

Tax Deferrals

The Government announced it will extend the temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors to the end of March next year.

For those that have deferred VAT payments, the Government has given businesses the option to pay back in instalments.  Rather than a lump sum payment in March, you can pay 11 smaller interest free payments.

For self assessment taxpayers, you will be able to benefit from a separate extension to the 'Time To Pay' Scheme. 

Extending loans

The Government announced that those that took out 'Bounce Back Loans' will now be able to pay back over ten years rather than six.  There will also be the option to have interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays.

For those that accessed the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, lenders will be able to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years, if it will help businesses to repay the loan.

The Government will be publishing guidance on all the changes announced today.

If you have any questions on what has been announced let us know.          


FSB North East Development Manager


7 Tips for Small Businesses Transitioning to Working Remotely.

Employees need simple tools so they can be productive virtually.  Our products and services can help you engage digitally and keep your work moving forward.  If your team is new to remote working, they may have questions and need answers about the new virtual culture.  Leaders of new small business remote teams can lead by example.  Learn more about how you can give employees the tools, education, and moral support they need to work from home successfully.

Watch on demand here.

What's covered in this webinar?

  • Tips for helping your employees with the transition to keep them productive
  • Best practices for video conferencing and collaboration, so your employees can enjoy engaging in interactive remote discussions
  • Information about ways you can reinforce your security to make sure both your business and your employees are protected
  • Simple techniques for allowing remote users to securely access files and services on your network and managing your network using a mobile app.


The FSB skills hub is here to support our members remotely; with learning opportunities, resources and advice for your business. Hear from specialists and industry experts to take away valuable insights. With COVID-19 impacting businesses nationwide, use our hub to find ways stay ahead of the curve throughout these challenging times.

Click here for further information.


Access to Government-backed SME funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been improved.  

As an FSB member, you can now check your eligibility with a range of CBILS accredited providers through FSB Funding Platform, even if you were initially unsuccessful when the original scheme went live.  With one simple application, we’ll show you what is available, saving you time and effort.  Register here to learn more and check your eligibility.


FSB's free webinar on Social Media was broadcast on Thursday, 2nd April.  

If you happened to miss it, it is now available on demand here.  

Whether you were unable to join, or would just like to view it again, you can watch a video of the webinar in your own time.


In FSB's latest webinar, the emphasis was placed on the aid and help available across the UK from local councils.

Support for grants, business rates holidays, government loans were also covered. However, this can depend on where in the UK you are. This webinar discussed the options available.

Also, FSB stressed their latest lobbying to get more help to the small business owners and self-employed who still need it the most, and what Business Continuity Planning could mean and what you should be doing now.

If you missed this excellent webinar, please click here to watch on demand.


Following the Chancellor's announcement about support to millions of self-employed individuals, NICEIC & Elecsa have partnered with The Federation of Small Businesses and ECA to deliver a webinar exploring the Government support available to Small Businesses.

During this session, Darren Staniforth, with the NICEIC & Elecsa, Martin McTague from The Federation of Small Businesses and Rob Driscoll from ECA will discuss the support available to our registered contractors, focusing on the following questions:

  • What help is there?
  • How do they access the support?
  • When is this support available?
  • What are the options if we employ staff?

The webinar will also discuss key questions raised through the Federation of Small Businesses along with any key questions raised by NICEIC & Elecsa contractors, to try and provide help and guidance.


Coronavirus: Financial help explained for SMEs and the self-employed - webinar now on demand.

In last week’s FSB webinar, we gave you the latest developments from the FSB policy team who had been pushing the UK Government to secure help for the self-employed.

Mike Cherry discussed how the FSB was representing the UK’s 5.8 million small businesses in the UK.

Sonali Parekh detailed the help that is currently available for the self-employed.

Stephen Pegge from UK Finance helped you understand how you could qualify for the loans and credit announced by the Government and what you needed to do to apply.




The business economy is facing challenging times right now and organisations are required to make fast paced changes to adapt to the conditions around us.  By understanding the impact that the Covid-19 Pandemic is having on our business community and economy it will help us to understand the further work that needs to take place in supporting businesses, and develop a robust economic recovery plan. 

We are particularly keen to understand how businesses are planning and implementing their return to work and any support that is required as we move further into this phase.
Please take the time to complete the following short survey, which should take less than 10 minutes, the information from which will be vital. We appreciate your support in this matter.

Please click here to access the "Covid-19 Impact Survey Phase 2".


Businesses in County Durham are being invited to seek financial support following the extension of grants schemes. Durham County Council is extending the business rates grants schemes it has been administering on behalf of the government during the Coronavirus pandemic, and is encouraging companies that were not previously able to access support to apply.

The extended scheme seeks to fill some of the gaps in the original grants schemes through which over 8,500 businesses have received in excess of £95 million of support. The council has been allocated just under £5 million of additional funding and asked to develop a local policy which prioritises:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces
  • Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment
  • Bed and breakfast operators who pay council tax instead of business rates
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief.

To find out more about the business financial support available, please click here.


A new volunteering unit has been set up in County Durham to provide more support to local organisations and charities during the coronavirus pandemic.  It will provide a central location where organisations needing additional help or practical resources can go to register that need.

The aim of the unit is to help manage offers of support from businesses and individuals who have volunteered their services and resources in County Durham.  Staff will be able to match them to groups across the county’s voluntary and community sector who have requested help in a number of different areas.  For example, many organisations are in need of extra staff, equipment, premises, vehicles, IT support and communications and marketing skills.
The team is also working with key organisations including local charities and the care sector to assess their needs and establish where additional support may be needed.

Any organisation or charity in need of either IT, financial, telephone and customer services support, or in need or resources such as premises, vehicles, drivers or other essential equipment, can also request help online at the same page


More than 1,000 businesses across County Durham have already received their grant to help support them through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Our staff have worked tirelessly since government guidance was received late last week to contact businesses whose properties qualify for the grants.

Working over the weekend, we have so far helped 1,134 properties, paying more than £12m to local businesses by 10 a.m. on Monday, 30th March.

More than 8,000 properties across the county are eligible for the grants, which range from £10,000 to £25,000 depending on the size of the company.

In total, we expect to pay out £89m in grant payments once all eligible businesses make their applications and staff work through processing these.

Processing payments quickly 

To be able to support businesses as quickly as possible in these unprecedented times, our payments have started ahead of the government's 1st April deadline and before any funding has been received from the government.

This hasn't gone unnoticed by businesses who have praised us this weekend for how we have worked with them to quickly establish simple processes enabling businesses to claim these grants and over the speed in which they've received them.

The council is now hoping to process another 2,500 applications before Wednesday and is encouraging all eligible businesses to apply.

To read more, please click here.


PDF file to download and / or read . . .


Business Durham - the economic development arm of Durham County Council - is committed to keeping residents and businesses updated on the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) information. We have collated the most up to date advice from the government, public agencies and health services, and will be updating this as soon as new information becomes available.  For all the updates available, please click here.


Guidance to employers and businesses about COVID 19

More than 1,000 businesses across County Durham have already received their grant to help support them through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Our staff have worked tirelessly since government guidance was received late last week to contact businesses whose properties qualify for the grants.

Working over the weekend, we have so far helped 1,134 properties, paying more than £12m to local businesses by 10am on Monday 30 March.

More than 8,000 properties across the county are eligible for the grants, which range from £10,000 to £25,000 depending on the size of the company.

In total, we expect to pay out £89m in grant payments once all eligible businesses make their applications and staff work through processing these.

For further information, please click here.


As part of the response to Covid-19 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a one-time grant of £10,000 or £25,000 to support businesses who meet the Small Business Rate Relief Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund eligibility criteria.

We are here to help you as much as we can, and with that in mind, I am pleased to provide the links below to each of the local authority sites to enable you to claim the grants that you may be entitled to.  Simply click on the area that covers your business and follow the link below:


CDCF has just launched their COVID-19 Fund to support community groups and organisations through this period of uncertainty. The focus is to offer emergency funding to deal with emerging issues in the community as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus.  More information can be found here.

Grants up to £5,000 are available to support work in the community, and to help organisations survive over this period of closures and isolation.

Theme 1: Proactive

  • Organisations that are supporting older people and other vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 outbreak 
  • Additional costs of working remotely and adapting services delivered in the wider community including volunteer costs
  • Activities to support community coordinated resources
  • Initiatives working to combat poverty (e.g. initiatives to tackle food poverty or ‘holiday’ hunger etc.)
  • Advisory services that complement those being put in place by statutory authorities such a directing people to local services or listening on the phone and giving emotional support.

Project may be new or something you currently deliver but it must respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The activity must also complement the support measures that are being put in place in your communities by the statutory authorities e.g. local authority led community hubs.

Theme 2: Recovery and Resilience

  • A contribution to charities and community organisations whose operations and finances are significantly affected by loss of income due to restrictions in place around COVID-19

This fund is expected to be heavily subscribed.  In this first phase of emergency funding, priority will be given to applications that meet Theme 1. Applications for Theme 2 will be accepted but they will be given lower priority.



Please complete this form so we can consider if you are entitled to a Small Business Grant or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

If you are entitled, we will let you know and will make payment in to the bank account you declare on this form.

Please note you may receive payment before you receive notification from us. However, you will clearly see on your bank transactions that the payment is from ‘DCC’.

We will notify you if you are not entitled to a grant.

Please click here for the form.

If you require assistance in completing the form please contact the Business Rates Team on 03000 268 997 or email



A comprehensive guide from the Department of International Trade

What the Department for International Trade does

We secure UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment, and championing free trade.


Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the support available:


As the UK goes through this unprecedented period, the Department for International Trade is committed to standing behind businesses and is asking businesses to do their best to stand behind their workers.

We understand that as a business owner or employee, you may be concerned about the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on your business, your colleagues and employees.

The Government is supporting businesses and employees through a package of measures to help manage the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19).

These measures include financial support packages for businesses and support for employees' wages. 

UK Export Finance (UKEF) has also expanded the scope of its Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) meaning UK businesses will now be eligible to secure export insurance cover to all major markets.

You should now:

  1. Visit the Business Support website for more information about these and additional measures and support available to your business. This website will continue to be updated with the latest information.
  2. Pay particular attention to the guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated regularly with the latest advice.
  3. Read the guidance for UK businesses trading internationally.
  4. Take steps to protect yourself and others.

Remember: stay at home, protect our NHS, save lives.



A new JobCentre Plus site has launched to offer you helpful advice about how to fill your critical vacancies using the Find A Job service.

There's also useful tips on how to ensure you don't diminish the response to your job ads by being too specific and help to make sure you recognise transferable skills.

Find A Job can help you reach more than 1.8 million registered users and is free to use.  Due to Covid-19, many of them have recent experience and skills from other sectors that could really benefit your business.  It's easy to register, post and manage your vacancies online.

For further information, please click here.


In response to the Coronavirus, COVID-19, the government announced there would be support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, delivered through the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant Fund.

This additional Discretionary Grant Fund is aimed at some of the small and micro businesses within the North East which were not eligible for either the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund.

This Discretionary Grant Fund widens access to support to businesses who are struggling to survive due to the Coronavirus shutdown but are unable to access other grant funding.

For further information, please click here.


Match funding is being distributed by the North East LEP to small businesses through Crowdfunder's small business support scheme, Pay It Forward.

Small businesses, employing no more than 10 full-time equivalent employees, will be able to secure up to £5,000 in match funding to boost their own crowdfunding efforts.

To find out more, please click here.


The North East Growth Hub contains guidance on six workplace readiness essentials including social distancing in the workplace, controlling access and preparing your workforce. You can read the guidance here.

Government guidance also provides information relating to a range of different workplaces such as offices and contact centres, labs and research facilities, and factories, plants and warehouses. This can be accessed here


Forthcoming online events Webinars are taking place to help businesses tackle some of the challenges they are currently facing.


Applications to government's Self-employment Income Support Scheme are now open.  The scheme provides a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships worth 80% of their profits, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

An online checker is available for people to see if they are eligible.


If you are a business that would like to diversify into manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE), Supply Chain North East can help.

Supply Chain North East can help your business establish the networks, materials and infrastructure you need to supply PPE quickly and effectively.

Grants of up to 80% for up to £40,000 are available for businesses looking to make a long-term commitment to supply PPE.

For further information, please click here.


The North East Growth Hub: working to reduce the impact of Coronavirus on our regional businesses.

Webinars are taking place to help businesses tackle some of the challenges they are currently facing. FREE events in the next few days include: 

Events from The North East Growth Hub can be found here.

COVID-19 Rapid Response Requests – can your business help?

The North East Growth Hub's Rapid Response Requests Director, detailing the current calls for support in responding to COVID-19, is being updated with new opportunities to support front-line services. It includes opportunities for businesses in a range of sectors to help develop solutions to the challenges that COVID-19 is bringing - from requests to provide rapid sanitising technology for ambulances, to an open call for creatives to use their skills to help spread public health messages.  For further information, please click here.

Changes to insolvency rules 

The news that changes to the insolvency laws will be forthcoming, potentially as soon as this month, marks a positive step forward for businesses struggling to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.  Read more here.

Support available for North East businesses 

There is a range of support for North East businesses, through the North East Growth Hub, including:

COVID-19 toolkit - our free online toolkit is regularly updated with the latest advice and support for businesses, including links to government funding. Visit the toolkit here.

Growth Hub Connect - one-to-one business advice from our experienced tea of Connectors. Find out more and book an appointment here.

Social media - Follow the North East Growth Hub on social media to receive all our latest updates. Find us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.


The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.  It launches on 4 May 2020.  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 government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

Businesses can apply for the loan that are:

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

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).  If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until the 4th of November 2020.

Click here for further information.  More details are due to follow shortly.


A partnership between the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), CBI, North of Tyne and North East Combined Authorities - with the support of industry - the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group will ensure the North East has strong and collaborative economic leadership as the region works through the impacts of COVID-19.

The long-term goal of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group is to return the North East to pre-COVID-19 GDP and employment levels. Find out more by visiting here.

Our Friends in the North podcast series with Helen Golightly and Colin Bell from the North East LEP Sarah Waddington, Managing Director of Astute.  Work and host of the My Friends in the North podcast series, spoke to Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP and Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP about the formation of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group about what support is available in the region to help businesses. Listen to Helen Golightly's interview here.  Listen to Colin Bell's interview here.


As of the 3rd April 2020, government has extended the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme so 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.

Changes include: 

  • No personal guarantees for facilities under £250k
  • Personal guarantees may still be required for facilities above £250k at a lender’s discretion, but recoveries under these are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied.
  • A Principal Private Residence (PPR) cannot be taken as security to support a personal guarantee or as security for a CBIL backed facility.
  • For all facilities, including those over £250,000, CBILS can now support lending to smaller businesses even where a lender considers there to be sufficient security, making more smaller businesses eligible to receive the business interruption payment.

Please click here for further information.


The government has announced that the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) has been expanded to cover all viable firms.

The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the British Business Bank. The government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans for businesses that would be otherwise unable to access the finance they need.

The new scheme will be eligible to businesses that are:

  • UK-based in business activity
  • Have an annual turnover between £45 million and £500 million
  • Unable to secure regular commercial financing
  • Have a borrowing proposal that the lender would consider viable, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, and believes will enable businesses to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty

The scheme is now open for applications.  For further information, please click here.


Cash grants are available to support small businesses and those operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors: Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.  If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, you may be eligible to receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Find out if you're eligible.

Small business grant funding: The Government is providing additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered reliefFind our more.


Bounce Back Loan scheme now open

The Bounce Back Loan scheme enables small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, and is now open for applications. 

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.  The application process involves a short online form, only two pages in length.  Find out more here.


HM Government has issued new guidance to help businesses in the UK to get back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.

The new guidance is broken down according to type of workplace rather than sector, with eight sets of guidelines in total. It's important that businesses understand they may need to look at several publications according to their individual circumstances.


COVID-19 impact support fund for small businesses.

This new fund provides support to businesses, charities, social enterprises and sole-traders seeking to cope with challenging trading conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The North East LEP has partnered with Crowdfunder to launch a matchfund grant that ensures the small business sector is supported quickly during this time of crisis.

There is a maximum pledge of up to £5,000 per small business, contributing up to 50% towards the total target.  More information can be found here.


Transport North East has produced a guide to help employers and employees think about how best to use our region’s transport network at the moment.

The guide points to sources which can help people plan essential journeys, if they are unable to work from home.  The guidance will help people to switch to walking and cycling where possible, making sure that the limited space on public transport is saved for those who need it most.


To support small and medium-sized businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the SME Centre of Excellence's Save Our SMEs campaign provides support from professional service providers on an initial pro bono basis.

Professional services that can be accessed include:

  • Solicitors
  • Accountants
  • HR
  • Digital transformation

Could your business support others by offering pro bono support?  You can find out how to volunteer your time here.


To ensure businesses in the North East receive the right support, we have amended our COVID-19 business survey to focus on the advice and guidance businesses need to help them exit lockdown and work safely.

Please take five minutes to complete the survey as the information you provide will be shared with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to help inform further interventions.


High Potential Startups, which provides coaching, workshops and access to finance for new businesses, is now open for applications.

If you have a big idea for a high-growth business, the High Potential Startups team will help you test your idea, understand your customers, fill skills gaps, access finance and find co-founders.

The programme, which will be delivered remotely over the next few months, is a chance to give your startup the push it’s been waiting for.



Find out how to register your restaurant or establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

ou can use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme to offer a discount to diners and encourage them to eat at your restaurant.

You can use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme:
  • all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August 2020
  • to offer a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to diners for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in
  • to claim the money back from the government

There is no limit to the number of times customers can use the offer during the period of the scheme. Your customers cannot get a discount for someone who is not eating or drinking.
Alcohol and service charges are excluded from the offer.

Registration will close on 31 August.  For full details, please click here.


Check the availability and any issues affecting the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

To read more on this scheme, please click here.


Posters, images and other promotional materials for use by establishments who are taking part in the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme.

For further information, please click here.


If you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) use this scheme if you’re eligible to claim the grant.

The scheme has now been extended.  A second and final grant will be available when the scheme opens again in August 2020.  If you’re eligible and want to claim the first grant you must make your claim on or before 13 July 2020.

Use this online service to:
  • check if you’re eligible
  • make your claim
If you’re eligible and want to claim the first grant you must make your claim on or before 13th July 2020.

This scheme is being extended. You’ll be able to make a claim for a second and final grant in August 2020.  Find out more about the extension to the scheme here.


The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months, the Chancellor announced on Friday, 29th May 2020.

  • Rishi Sunak announces Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended - with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570
  • Chancellor also outlines further details on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time in July, and a new taper requiring employers to contribute modestly to furloughed salaries from August
  • both schemes are UK wide

Those eligible under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth £6.8 billion will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The Chancellor also set out more details on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will continue to support jobs and business as people return to work, following the announcement of an extension of the scheme on 12 May.

To read the full article, please click here.


New ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines are available to UK employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.

The new guidance covers 8 workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.


Everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can now get a test.

  • Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough; high temperature; and now also a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting
  • 21,000 contact tracers in England now recruited

The government has today announced that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible to book a test, ahead of the rollout of the test and trace service.

The expansion in testing eligibility comes after all 4 UK Chief Medical Officers confirmed that anosmia has been added as a symptom of COVID-19. Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell, and it can also affect your sense of taste.

This means people should self-isolate immediately if they have:

  • a new, continuous cough
  • a high temperature, or
  • a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste

All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.

Anyone in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland experiencing a new, continuous cough, high temperature or a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting

Those unable to access the internet can call 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland to book a test.


Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has launched

Employers will now be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

A new online service will be launched on Tuesday, 26th May for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees, the government announced on the 19th May 2020.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This scheme will allow small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.

Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26 May.  This means they 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.

Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers.

To prepare to make their claim, employers should keep records of all the SSP payments that they wish to claim from HMRC.  You can read further guidance on checking whether you can claim back SSP paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) on GOV.UK.

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 2 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’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

Check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) by clicking here.


Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the support available:


The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October
  • furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
  • new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy

In a boost to millions of jobs and businesses, Rishi Sunak said the furlough scheme would be extended by a further four months with workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary.

As we reopen the economy, we need to support people to get back to work. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.  To read more, please click here.


The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended.

If you receive the grant you can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist.

The grant does not need to be repaid but will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance.

There is other support available if you’re not eligible for the grant.

HMRC will work out if you’re eligible and how much grant you may get. But you can follow these steps to help you understand how we will do this and what you can do now.  For further information, please click here.


New figures on the UK-wide government support schemes for individuals and businesses have been published [19.05.2020]

The new figures show that:

  • 8 million jobs have now been furloughed with £11.1 billion claimed so far through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • 2 million Self-employment Income Support (SEISS) claims have been submitted worth £6.1 billion
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) has seen 464,393 approved loans so far worth £14.18 billion
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has seen 40,564 loans worth £7.25 billion approved so far
  • the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) has seen 86 approved loans totalling £0.59 billion


The principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.

This guidance sets out the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent with others outside your home is as safe as possible. If you are clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, you should follow the guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people and you can also get support.

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)

The most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives.  For further information, please click here.


This guide explains the information that employers need to provide to claim for their employees’ wages

This step by step guide explains the information that employers need to provide to HMRC to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  It also describes the processes involved.
Please note that if you are an employer making a claim, you need to follow the processes explained in the guidance page Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on GOV.UK.  For the full document, please click here.


The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

The Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis.

This document describes the progress the UK has made to date in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and sets out the plans for moving to the next phase of its response to the virus.
The strategy sets out a cautious roadmap to easing existing measures in a safe and measured way, subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread. The roadmap will be kept constantly under review as the epidemic, and the world’s understanding of it, develops.


New ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely

Five new ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely, following publication of the UK’s roadmap to rebuild Britain.

Businesses and shops in indoor environments or with closer contact between people, like pubs, hotels and non-essential retail, will likely have a higher risk of transmission, as is the case with many places of worship.

It is the Government’s ambition to open as many of these other businesses and public places as possible over the coming months, when the scientific advice provided allows us to.

Similarly, the Government recognises this has been a particularly challenging time for the international aviation industry.

These taskforces will be crucial to the reopening of Britain’s economy and each one will lead on developing new COVID-19 secure guidelines for the reopening of public places and businesses, where and when it is safe to do so.

The five new ministerial taskforces will look at the following sectors:

  • pubs and restaurants (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy)
  • non-essential retail (including salons) (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy)
  • recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
  • places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
  • international aviation, reflecting the unique challenges that sector is facing (Department for Transport)

As part of this science-led approach, each taskforce will work across Government and engage with key stakeholders in public health, industry, trade unions and devolved administrations to:

  • ensure that COVID-19 secure guidelines are developed in line with the phased approach and public health directions, building on the existing guidance and providing intelligence and sector-specific expert input
  • agree and ensure alignment of all relevant sectoral guidance
  • provide key sector stakeholders direct access to Ministers to shape the guidance

Read the full guidance on the establishment of the taskforces


Visit the Business Support website for information about measures and support available to your business.


Stay at home

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Do not meet others, even friends or family.

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do.  For further information, please click here.

Read more about what you can and cannot do here.  For frequently asked questions on what you can and cannot do, please click here.


Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19).  For further information, please click here.


The advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines.

  1. The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature.  If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started (if you live alone), or 14 days (if you live with someone who has symptoms).  You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation.  If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online.  If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.  For a medical emergency dial 999.
  2. Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
  3. To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue in a bin immediately.  Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  4. Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

At the current time and based on our understanding of what is known of COVID-19 and other similar respiratory viruses, it is likely that older people and those with chronic medical conditions may be vulnerable to severe disease. As more information emerges, recommendations may change.

View our Coronavirus (COVID-19): easy-read guide

Guidance for the public

COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection

COVID-19 guidance for mass gatherings

COVID-19: guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing

COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable

COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

COVID-19: guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

COVID-19: guidance for taking swab samples


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.

  • Pay for furloughed workers taking family related leave is to be calculated based on usual earnings rather than furlough pay
  • full earnings will apply to Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay, Parental Bereavement Pay and Adoption Pay
  • ensures workers about to take family-related leave are not penalised by being furloughed

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, the government announced today (24 April).
Entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay, as well as the other forms of Parental or Adoption Pay, are currently calculated through someone’s average earnings over an 8-week assessment period. For Maternity Allowance, entitlement and the rate payable is also determined by looking at average earnings over a 13 week period.

The statutory instrument laid in Parliament today will ensure workers whose period of family-related pay begins on or after 25 April will be assessed on their usual, full pay.

The changes will ensure those intending to take time off following the birth, adoption, or death of a child will not see their entitlement to pay affected as a result of being furloughed in the wake of the impacts of COVID-19.  Further information can be found here.


New 100% government backed loan scheme for small business

  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days
  • loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form

Small businesses will benefit from a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders, the Chancellor announced on Monday, 27th April.

Rishi Sunak said the new Bounce Back Loans scheme, which will provide loans of up to £50,000, would help bolster the existing package of support available to the smallest businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme has been designed to ensure that small firms who need vital cash injections to keep operating can get finance in a matter of days, and comes alongside the £6 billion awarded in business grants, supporting 4 million jobs through the job retention scheme and generous tax deferrals supporting hundreds of thousands of firms.

The government, which has been consulting extensively with business representatives about the design of the new scheme, will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months.  No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application. The loan should reach businesses within days- providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible.

Our Covid-19 support schemes have provided over £15 billion for business in just a few weeks. We’ve put in place:

  • our job retention scheme - more than 500,000 claims have been made to the value of £4.5 billion
  • business grants - half a million business properties have benefitted from £6 billion of business grants
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - with over 20,000 loans
  • the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, which has provided over £14 billion for larger firms
  • generous VAT deferrals worth billions of pounds
  • scrapped businesses rates
  • covering the cost of statutory sick pay
  • the new scheme will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
  • We are also taking additional steps on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to ensure that lenders have the confidence they need to process finance applications quickly, including removing the per lender portfolio cap for the government guarantee, and changing the viability tests that so that all banks will need to assess is whether a business was viable pre COVID-19.

For further information about the New Bounce Bank Loans, please click here.


Innovative businesses and start-ups are set to benefit from a £40 million government investment to drive forward new technological advances

  • £40 million of government funding to support the UK’s next generation of innovative businesses
  • projects to benefit from the funding include virtual reality training platforms for surgeons, virtual farmers’ markets and other innovations borne out of the coronavirus pandemic
  • funding comes from a £211 million government investment package to encourage businesses developing new technologies

Innovative businesses and start-ups are set to benefit from a £40 million government investment to drive forward new technological advances.  Business Secretary Alok Sharma today (20 May 2020) announced the government is doubling investment in the Fast Start Competition with an additional £20 million.

The competition aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups – helping to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity.

Among the successful projects to receive the funding to date, is a virtual-reality surgical training simulator and an online farmers’ market platform.  For further information, please click here.


Added details of the Future Fund and business support finder [Updated 20.04.2020]

Government launches new coronavirus business support finder tool

A new ‘support finder’ tool will help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.  For further information, please click here.

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find out what financial support you can get for your business

A full range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses.

This page help businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

Find out what financial support schemes you may be eligible for

Use the business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.  Click here to find coronavirus financial support for your business.

Paying your employees (UK-wide)

For more information of how to claim for wages through the Crononavirus Job Retention Scheme, please click here.

Paying sick pay (UK-wide)

To find out tow to claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to cornonavirus (COVID-19), please click here.

Paying tax (UK-wide)

For further information on the following, please click the appropriate links:

Business rates relief (England only)

Check if your retail, hospitality or leisure business is eligible for business rates relief due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check if your nursery is eligible for business rates relief due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Business support grant funds (England only)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): business support grant funding - guidance for businesses

Support for the self-employed (UK-wide)

Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme

Support for small and medium-sized businesses (UK-wide)

Apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Apply for the coronavirus Future Fund

Support for large businesses (UK-wide)

Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Apply for the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility


A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke spoke to local authorities in England yesterday to set out that up to £617 million would be made available.

This is an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF), so up to £617 million. We will confirm the exact amount for each local authority next week.

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. We are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may 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. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.

Further guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly.

As of 27 April, over £7.5 billion has been paid out to over 614,000 business properties via the SBGF and RHLGF schemes. This is over 61% of the grant funding allocated to local authorities.


This guide explains the information that employers need to provide to claim for their employees’ wages.

Document (Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: a step by step guide for employers) to download can be found here.

This step by step guide explains the information that employers need to provide to HMRC to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It also describes the processes involved.
Please note that if you are an employer making a claim, you need to follow the processes explained in the guidance page Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on GOV.UK.


A letter from the Chancellor to all accredited Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders on the new Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

On Monday 27 April the Chancellor announced the new Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to support loans of up to £50,000 to small businesses with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. This letter to all accredited lenders under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) sets out the interest rate that Bounce Back Loans will be offered at, and outlines legislative and regulatory changes being made to support the delivery of the scheme. It also clarifies the interaction between lending under BBLS and CBILS.


A full range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses.

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.

Find out what financial support schemes you may be eligible for

Use the business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.

Paying your employees (UK-wide)

Paying sick pay (UK-wide)

Paying tax (UK-wide)

Business rates relief (England only)


Business support grant funds (England only)

Support for the self-employed (UK-wide)

Support for small and medium-sized businesses (UK-wide)

Support for large businesses (UK-wide)


People who can’t work their normal hours because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) will still receive their usual tax credits payments.

The government has confirmed that people who can’t work their normal hours because of coronavirus (COVID-19) will still receive their usual tax credits payments.

Those working reduced hours due to coronavirus or those being furloughed by their employer will not have their tax credits payments affected if they are still employed or self-employed.
These customers do not need to contact HMRC about this change. We will treat customers as working their normal hours until the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme close, even if they are not using either scheme.

We’ll use the information we hold about the number of hours they normally work.

Customers can still report any other changes in income, childcare and hours in the normal way. However, they must tell us if they or their partner lose their job, are made redundant or cease trading.

Customers can continue to claim Working Tax Credit and be treated as though they are working their normal hours, but they should check GOV.UK to see if additional or alternative support is available based on their personal and financial circumstances.


Guidance for businesses setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

This guidance sets out details and eligibility criteria for:

  • the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF)
  • the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

It informs businesses about the operation and delivery of the 2 funding schemes.

The guidance applies to England only.

For further information, please click here.


Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen has announced.

Trade Credit Insurance provides cover to hundreds of thousands of business to business transactions, particularly in non-service sectors, such as manufacturing and construction.  It insures suppliers selling goods against the company they are selling to defaulting on payment, giving businesses the confidence to trade with one another.  But due to Coronavirus and businesses struggling to pay bills, they risk having credit insurance withdrawn, or premiums increasing to unaffordable levels.  For further information, please click here.


HM Treasury and HMRC have set out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current Covid-19 crisis.

  • three month extension to many consultation deadlines to give stakeholders time to submit their views
  • extension will ensure those facing Covid-19 disruption will have a chance to have their say on possible tax changes
  • despite the extension of publication deadlines, due to Covid-19, the government remains committed to all planned reforms

HMT and HMRC are today setting out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current Covid-19 crisis

The government is extending deadlines to ten consultations and calls for evidence currently underway by three months – including the Plastic Packaging Tax, a call for evidence on Vehicle Excise Duty and a consultation on the HMRC Charter – and also a short delay to the publication of other documents announced at Budget 2020.

The extension will give all stakeholders, who are facing disruption due to COVID-19, more time to submit their views and allow them to fully engage with these documents and contribute to the tax policy making process.

The government is grateful for responses already received, and would welcome further early responses from stakeholders where possible, to support its continuing consideration of these issues.

Consultations on duty-free and tax-free goods carried by passengers and on the VAT treatment of overseas goods will continue to the existing timetable. This is to provide businesses with clarity as early as possible on the policies that will apply from the end of the transition period, and enough time to prepare.

The government is confirming too that it is going ahead with its fundamental review of Business Rates, and a call for evidence will be published in the coming months.

Consulting on tax policy is crucial to good tax law. And a good consultation makes sure everyone with an interest in the subject has an opportunity to have their say.

That is why we are extending these deadlines. The government is very grateful to the stakeholders who have already responded to these documents. But it is also acutely aware that there may be others who want to contribute but cannot do so because of the current situation with Covid-19. This extension should help them to do so.

Alongside the consultation extensions, the publication of some documents announced at Budget 2020, including work on tax conditionality and a consultation on stronger penalties for tobacco tax evasion, will be pushed back until the Autumn.

And the government will set out in due course when it will publish other tax policy documents, including the consultation on aviation taxation and a call for evidence on disguised remuneration schemes.

The government’s position on publication of tax policy documents will be kept updated through the public consultations tracker.


Coronavirus: stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives

This leaflet has information on what everyone must do to help stop the spread of coronavirus.  There is also information on spotting the symptoms, advice for vulnerable groups, and information about government support for businesses and workers.

This information is available in different languages and alternative formats.

This leaflet was prepared for distribution to UK households from 3 April 2020, and was in line with the latest guidance at that point.

To order these materials, go to the campaign resource centre.

Check the latest advice on coronavirus.


Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

The relevant documents can be found below:

This guidance is intended for:

  • people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
  • those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus

For further reading, please visit GOV.UK's guidance on staying at home and away from others (social distancing).


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.

Some aspects of business support are devolved. (For business support outside of England go to ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.)

Scheme Information

Each of the pages here can help you find what you are looking for. They provide information on financial support packages for businesses, advice on how to operate your business and support for your employees, for example workers' wage costs.


If you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) find out if you can use this scheme to claim a grant.

The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether.  This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended.

If you receive the grant you can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist.

The grant will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance.

There is other support available if you’re not eligible for the grant.

HMRC will work out if you’re eligible and how much grant you may get.  But you can follow these steps to help you understand how we will do this and what you can do now.


Find out what financial support you can get for your business

A full range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses.

This page help businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

Points covered:

  • Paying your employees
  • Paying sick pay
  • Paying tax
  • Business rates relief
  • Business support grant funds
  • Support for the self-employed
  • Support for small and medium-sized businesses
  • Support for large businesses

Just arrived: a letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, to those working in manufacturing - click here to read.


The Chancellor has 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 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • 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
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Check the business support website for answers to frequently asked questions.

Further information on:

  • Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Support for businesses through deferring VAT payments
  • Support for businesses through deferring Self-Assessment payments on account
  • Eligibility
  • Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
  • Support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that pay business rates
  • Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates
  • Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
  • Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
  • Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service
  • Commercial insurance
  • Protection from eviction for commercial tenants
  • Extension of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) arrangements.


The Chancellor has made a Treasury Direction under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.  It sets out that HMRC are responsible for the payment and management of amounts to be paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as set out in the Schedule to the Direction.

The Direction sets out the legal framework for the Scheme.

Further guidance for employers and employees can be found here.


UK businesses driving innovation and development will be helped through the coronavirus outbreak with a £1.25 billion government support package, the Chancellor announced today.  Read more here.


Rishi Sunak unveils the final details of Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • All viable businesses with turnover of more than £45m will be able to apply for UK Government-backed support;
  • Firms with turnover of more than £250 million can borrow up to £50 million from lenders;
  • This complements existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

A UK government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms, the Chancellor announced today.

Outlining further details of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CLBILS) ahead of its launch on Monday, Rishi Sunak said all firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million

Business with turnovers of more than £500 million were originally not eligible for the scheme, which is being set up to help firms who do not qualify for the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – for small and medium sized businesses - and the Bank of England Covid Corporate Financing Facility – for investment grade companies. The move, which comes after extensive consultation with businesses, will ensure even more firms are able to benefit from UK Government support.  For further information, please click here.


Advice and guidance on how to protect yourself and your business from fraud and cyber crime.

Measures announced over recent weeks to deal with coronavirus (COVID-19) have seen our day-to-day life drastically changed – we are spending more time at home and online. Unfortunately, criminals will use every opportunity they can to scam innocent people and their businesses.

This guidance explains simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your business against fraud and cyber crime and where to get help.


As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The government has given clear guidance on self-isolationstaying at home and away from others, and asked that schools only remain open for those children who absolutely need to attend.
All businesses and venues outlined in the table below must not open to the public. Failure to follow the law relating to these closures can lead to the individuals responsible for the business being issued a prohibition notice, a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance below. Online retail may continue.

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines.

For further information, please click here.

Staying at home and away from others (social distancing)

The single most important action we can all take in fighting coronavirus is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.  Two documents have been published.  You can read them here.


Government guidance for business, please click here.


Business interruption loan scheme – delivered by British Business Bank and builds on an existing scheme (Enable Finance Guarantee) administered by them.

Statutory Sick Pay – This is administered by HMRC, but “Existing systems are not designed to facilitate employer refunds for SSP”.  This is UK wide.

Time to Pay – This is administered by HMRC and is a UK wide scheme for tax payment relief.

Small Business Rate Relief – currently administered by local authorities.

Business Rates Retail Discount – currently administered English local authorities.

Budget - You can find the current budget summary here. It will be updated when more information becomes available.


For immediate, daily or weekly updates of Government responses and interventions to COVID-19 you can register here.


Questions from UK businesses about the impact coronavirus may have on their business and requests can also be made directly via email to We are triaging this data so the government can make more informed choices on the immediate actions required.


You may have seen the call out from SoS Health Matt Hancock for companies who have the capabilities to repurpose their staff and facilities to making ventilators. Click here for the link to the .GOV site and further information in The Guardian. Also, contact BEIS. Companies should call 0300 456 3565 or email



The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is now available through participating lenders.


The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses (SMEs) across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The scheme is a part of a wider package of government support for UK businesses and employees. Read more at the Government’s Business Support website.


British Business Bank operates CBILS via its accredited lenders. There are over 40 of these lenders currently working to provide finance. They include:

  • high-street banks
  • challenger banks
  • asset-based lenders
  • smaller specialist local lenders

A lender can provide up to £5 million in the form of:

  • term loans
  • overdrafts
  • invoice finance
  • asset finance

CBILS gives the lender a government-backed guarantee for the loan repayments to encourage more lending.

The borrower remains fully liable for the debt.

The Big Four banks have agreed that they will not take personal guarantees as security for lending below £250,000 under CBILS.


The Future Fund is now open for applications

The Future Fund uses an online platform for applications, which today publishes its set of standard terms and eligibility criteria for borrowers, investors and solicitors to view in advance of opening for applications.

The new Future Fund will support innovative UK companies with good potential, that are essential in ensuring the UK retains its world leading position in science, innovation and technology. These companies typically rely on equity investment and are currently affected by Covid-19.

Until now these companies have been unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit. The financing supports companies facing a significantly extended length of time between funding rounds, due to the impact of the current economic situation.

Developed by government and delivered by the British Business Bank, the Future Fund will help these companies through the current period of economic disruption and recovery, so they are able to continue their growth trajectory and reach their full economic potential.

How it works:

  • Scheme operates on a commercial basis to deliver an initial commitment of £250m of new government funding.
  • Financing will be unlocked by additional third-party investment on a match funded basis.
  • Applications submitted via an online platform based on a set of standard terms and eligibility criteria.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Companies must be UK-incorporated and if part of a corporate group, only the parent company is eligible.
  • Companies in receipt of the loans will be required to have previously raised at least £250k in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.
  • Only eligible companies that can attract at least 50% of third-party investment will receive funding.
  • Companies cannot have any of their shares traded on a regulated market, multilateral trading facility or other listing venue.T
  • he company must have been incorporated on or before 31st December 2019.
  • At least one of the following must be true for the company:

            * Half or more employees are UK based;

            * Half or more revenues are from UK sales.

For more information on the Future Fund eligibility criteria and applications process, visit the Future Fund web pages here.



Small Business Grants programme

We know that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19.  We've heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we are offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.

How the programme can help


  • Keep your workforce going strong
  • Help with your rent costs
  • Connect with more customers
  • Cover operational costs

Who's eligible?

Up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries where we operate will be able to receive the grant. To be eligible to apply, you must:

  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Have been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates (See available locations).

Manage your business through COVID-19

For additional resources about how you can help your business prepare for and manage through disruptions such as COVID-19, visit our recently-launched Business Resource Hub.


At Facebook, we're committed to keeping businesses like yours connected with your community – especially when disruptions and frequent changes make normal communication more difficult.

We know that many businesses are facing unexpected challenges, including keeping in touch with customers, so we wanted to share a few things that you can do now to get ahead of these challenges and stay connected.

Before you read the tips, see our downloadable templates here to help you get started with customer communications.

Tips to keep in touch

Share frequent updates
Posting is a great way to keep your customers informed when you're experiencing changes. Announce your adjusted hours, share measures that you're taking to keep safe, or explain the ways in which customers can still place orders with your business.

Maintain customer relationships
Customers can contact you directly on Facebook if your normal hours have changed or your business is closed. Make sure that your Page Inbox is set up so you can answer questions, and save time by setting up an automated response to frequently asked questions such as shop closures.

Take your events online
See which parts of your business you can shift online – especially as people are at home spending more time on their devices. If you have to postpone or cancel an event, try hosting a free live session on Facebook instead. If your shop is closed, you can still showcase your products or service in a live session as well.

Need more resources?

At Facebook, we want to help as much as possible during this challenging time. Visit the Business Resource Hub for tools to help you manage your business through disruptions.



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.

Am I eligible?

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
  • Meet all other eligibility requirements as stated in the grant programme terms here.

Privacy Policy can be found here.  Please note that funds cannot be used for any new or existing Salesforce product or service expenditures.

How do I apply?

Applications will open in six regional phases.  Phases are based on location and will not affect your likelihood for receiving a grant. Each region will have seven days to apply.

If your business meets the eligibility criteria above, find your region below. Expand each region to see which counties represent what region.

Each region opens at 08:00 and closes at 23:59. If the application is open, you can start the application process.  Opening dates for Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne & Wear and Yorkshire will be between the 27th July and the 2nd August.

If your region is open for entries: Click proceed to login or sign-up for a free Enterprise Nation account to start your application.

If your region is currently closed: Leave us your contact details and we’ll notify you when you can apply.

Have additional questions?

Learn more about the programme on the FAQ page.

About Enterprise Nation

Working out how to start and grow a business can be tough at times. That's where we come in.

Enterprise Nation is a vibrant community of small businesses and business advisers that exist to shortcut your route to trusted business support.

Whether you're starting or growing a business, we have the resources, expertise, and connections to help you get it right.


The National Careers Service have just launched a new skills toolkit.  It's got loads of free courses from basic to advanced.  Covering everything from Canva, and email through to Powerpoint, social media for business and Coding.

Click here to visit their website.


In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, we know that now, more than ever, employers are looking to support their staff on and off-site to help maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.

We've connected with our partners and created a completely free vault of useful tools, guides and support for this time.

We are serious about creating mentally healthy workplace cultures. Our bespoke Workplace Wellbeing Programmes offer employers the opportunity to enhance positive physical and mental health at work both online and on-site.

Research now shows businesses that promote and highlight the importance of overall health and wellbeing see better levels of engagement from their team, less absenteeism, greater retention of staff and increased productivity - a win for everyone!

For further information, please click here.


Template Letter to Furlough Employees (The letter might offer a bit of guidance/structure for those employers who are struggling for alternative templates at this time).


You can find basic guidance from the NHS here and very detailed guidance from .GOV here.