Coronavirus Support for Businesses

CoronavirusSt Helens Chamber Business Support

St Helens Chamber is here to support local businesses. For advice and assistance please call us on 01744 742444  or email

Members of St Helens Chamber also have access to Chamber Protect - a dedicated support line to help with HR, Health & Safety Legal and Tax issues. If you are a Chamber Member you can contact the advice line on 01455 852037.

Government Assistance

The Chancellor has announced a range of measures to support businesses as part of the Government's emergency response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Click here for a free downloadable PDF with information on business support available from the Government, and what steps to take next.

Restart Grant

The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors with a one-off grant, to reopen safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The Restart Grant will be available from 1st April 2021 and will replace the Local Restrictions Support Grant.

Eligibility criteria

  • A business should be trading and be liable for Business Rates at a property within the borough of St Helens as at 1 April 2021.
  • The premises should predominantly provides in-person services to customers within the following sectors:

    • Non-essential retail; or
    • Hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care, gym or sports.

  • It has not exceeded 'state aid' subsidy allowance limits (see below).
  • It is not in administration, insolvent or has a striking-off notice issued against it.

Restart Grant

Prior to completing the application form please ensure you have the following information:

  • Your business rates account and property reference number.
  • A unique reference number to identify the business. This will be either your Company House or Charity Commission number, if you are registered. Alternatively, you will need to provide a VAT registration number or if you are self-employed either: your National Insurance Number or self-assessment number.
  • Number of employees.
  • The sector you qualify under (see below) or visit for further information.
  • Cumulative total of previous funding received under all COVID-19 business grants schemes.

Applications are now open

Recovery Loans Scheme

Recovery Loan Scheme will take the place of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

Businesses of any size can apply for a loan between £25,000 and £10m until the end of 2021. Loans will have a Government guarantee of 80%. Asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10m will also be available. No personal guarantees will be taken on facilities up to £250,000 and, as before, a borrower’s principal private residence cannot be taken as security.

If your business has already borrowed from any of the other coronavirus loan schemes – namely:

  • the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

Recovery Loan Scheme is still open to you, although the amount you have borrowed under an existing scheme may in certain circumstances limit the amount you may borrow under Recovery Loan Scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme opened April 6th 2021 and will run until December 31st 2021, subject to review.

Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders. Full details can be found at the British Business Bank

There is deadline of 31 March 2021 to submit a new application for Local Restrictions Support Grant (closed) for periods prior to 16 February 2021.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September 2021. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working, but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off. The government will also provide grants to cover Flexible Furlough, allowing businesses to bring employees into work on a part-time basis.

The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only for the hours the employee does not work.

Employers will need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period.

For worked hours, employers will continue to pay the employee for hours worked in the normal way.

When making your claim you must have:

  • created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 30th October 2020
  • enrolled for PAYE online
  • a UK bank account

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

Employers can use the calculator to work out how much they have to pay their furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees, how much they can claim for employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions and how much they can claim back using the new job retention calculator here

You’ll need the Government Gateway user ID and password you got when you registered for PAYE online.

If you do not finish your claim in one session, you can save a draft.

You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

From 1st July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant you must continue to pay your furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.

The table below shows the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.

Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

furlough 2021

Apply here

Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Government has issued updated guidance on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Applications for the first and second and third SEISS grant have closed.

The fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500. The fourth grant will take into account 2019 to 2020 tax returns and will be open to those who became self-employed in tax year 2019 to 2020. The rest of the eligibility criteria remain unchanged. Your eligibility for the scheme will now be based on your submitted 2019 to 2020 tax return. This may also affect the amount of the fourth grant which could be higher or lower than previous grants you may have received.

To be eligible for the fourth grant you must be a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership.

To work out your eligibility we will first look at your 2019 to 2020 Self Assessment tax return. Your trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to your non-trading income.

If you’re not eligible based on your 2019 to 2020 Self Assessment tax return, we will also look at the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, 2018 to 2019 as well as 2019 to 2020.

You must also have traded in both tax years:

  • 2019 to 2020 and submitted your tax return by 2nd March 2021
  • 2020 to 2021

You must either:

  • be currently trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
  • have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

The fourth grant will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits. The fourth grant will be paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total.

If you’re eligible and your claim is approved you will have the money paid into your bank account within six working days of completing a claim.

You must make the claim yourself. Your tax agent or financial adviser must not claim on your behalf as this will trigger a fraud alert.

To check if you’re eligible to make a claim you can use the online tool. Your tax agent or adviser can also use the online tool on your behalf.

You’ll need your:

- Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number - if you do not have this find out how to get your lost UTR number

- National Insurance number - if you do not have this find out how to get your lost National Insurance number

The online claims service for the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 until 31st May 2021.

If you are eligible, HMRC will contact you in mid-April to give you your personal claim date. This will be the date that you can make your claim from.

There will be more guidance about the fourth grant in due course.

Statutory Sick Pay

Small businesses and employers across the UK who have paid statutory sick pay to staff taking coronavirus-related leave will be able to claim back the money.

The scheme allows small and medium sized employers, with fewer than 250 members of staff, to apply to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay for two weeks - worth nearly £200 per employee.

The new online service is being run by HMRC, and after making an application employers will receive the money within six working days.

To get the rebate, employers will need to go online and input simple information on the employees being claimed for.

The service can be accessed here.

Deferral of  VAT payments

The Chancellor has announced that he is deferring the next quarter of VAT payments, meaning no businesses will pay any VAT from now until the end of June. Business who deferred their VAT bills now have the option to pay back in smaller instalments under the New Payment Scheme. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, businesses will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

Businesses need to take steps to reinstate their direct debit mandates so that they are in place in time for payments due in July 2020 onwards. Any outstanding returns should be filed and three working data should be allowed to elapse before reinstating the direct debit mandate.

Self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.


The Chancellor has announced that VAT will be cut from 20% to 5% for spends in the hospitality and tourism sector.

From 15th July until 31st March 2021, VAT on food, accommodation and attractions will be cut from 20% to 5%.

The Chancellor said the tax cut would apply to eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafés and pubs, accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites, as well as cinemas, theme parks and zoos. This excludes the sale of alcohol.

Click here to check if you can temporarily reduce the rate of VAT on supplies relating to hospitality, accommodation, or admission to certain attractions.

Apprenticeship support funding

The government will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new Apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new Apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021.

These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16 to 18 year-old Apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan - employers could receive up to £3,000 for hiring 16 to 18 year old Apprentices from August to January.

If you would like to register your interest in St Helens Chamber Apprenticeships, please contact our Workforce Development Team at

Kickstart Scheme

The government has unveiled a new Kickstart Scheme to help young people secure jobs.

The Kickstart Scheme will help those aged between 16 to 24. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit in the age group who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The jobs must be new, additional jobs, with a minimum of 25 hours per week. Funding will be available for each six-month job placement and will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – employers will be able to top this wage up.

If you would like to register your interest in employing a young person, please contact our Workforce Development Team at

Click here for more information on the Kickstart Scheme

For all additional grants and fully funded programmes go to St Helens Chamber Local Growth Hub

Click here for full details on all the Government support available

Click here for the latest advice and guidance from the British Chambers of Commerce

*Page last updated 9th April 2021*