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.

Local Restrictions Support Grant

The Local Restrictions Support Grant supports businesses that have been required to close due to temporary COVID-19 local restrictions.

To be eligible for the grant, businesses must be required to close for a consecutive period of no less than 14 days because of local restrictions. This includes a business that usually provides an in-person service from its premises (e.g. café, restaurant, public house or non-essential retail) and can now only operate a takeaway, click and collect or online with delivery service instead.

The grant will be paid as follows:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £667 per two weeks
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £1,000 per two weeks
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to £1,500 per two weeks

Apply here

Closed Business Lockdown Payment

The Closed Business Lockdown Payment is in addition to the Local Restrictions Support Grant which will be made to all businesses who are required to closed during the national lockdown from 5th January 2021.

You do not need to apply for this grant. Your business will be assessed for this period and if you are eligible, you will automatically be issued a grant payment.

The grant will be paid as a single payment as follows:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, you will receive a grant of £4,000
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k, you will receive a grant of £6,000
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over, you will receive a grant of £9,000

A payment will be automatically made to eligible businesses that have received a Local Restrictions Support Grant for the period commencing 5 January 2021.

Christmas support payment for wet-led pubs

The Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs supports pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than provide food and have been severely impacted over the festive season due to temporary local restrictions.

Eligible businesses may be entitled to a one-off cash grant of £1,000 from their local council in areas under Tier 2 or Tier 3 local restrictions.

To qualify, a pub must:
- be located within a Tier 2 or Tier 3 local restrictions area for all or part of the period between 2nd and 29th December 2020
- have been trading on 30 November 2020 (or prior to when the recent local / national restrictions come into force)
- meet the definition of a pub (see below)
- derive less than 50% of its income from the sale of food
- not exceed state aid limits
- not be in administration, insolvent or have a striking-off notice issued against it.

It will exclude: restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, hotels, snack bars, guesthouses, boarding houses, sporting venues, music venues, festival sites, theatres, museums, exhibition halls, cinemas, concert halls and casinos.

Applications are open until 31st January

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30th April 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.

Claims for furlough days in December 2020 must be made by 14th January 2021.

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

Apply here

The Job Support Scheme will be introduced following the end of the CJRS.

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 SEISS grant have closed.

The government is extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). 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 grant will cover a 3 month period from 1st November 2020 until 31st January 2021. The Government will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total.

An additional second grant will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.

The eligibility criteria are the same for both grants, and individuals will need to confirm that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. You will be asked to declare that your business has suffered reduced demand between 1st November 2020 and the date of your claim. An individual does not need to have claimed for an earlier grant to get the others: for example, they may only have been adversely affected by COVID-19 in this later phase.

You must have filed a tax return for 2018/19. This means you must have been self-employed prior to 6th April 2019.

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.

Applications are now open.

You must make your claim between 30th November 2020 and 29th January 2021.

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

Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme will protect jobs in businesses that can operate safely but are facing lower demand and businesses that are legally required to close their premises as a direct result of governments restrictions.

JSS Open - Businesses facing lower demand

JSS Open will provide a grant to employers for staff who are working a minimum of 20% of their contracted hours. The government will then pay 61.67% of their unworked hours (capped at £1,541.75 per month), in conjunction with the employer who will pay 5% (capped at £125 per month). Employers will need to pay NI and pension contributions in addition to the scheme.

Employers using the Job Support Scheme Open will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.

JSS Closed – Businesses that are legally required to close

Employers who are legally required to shut their premises during a lockdown can apply for help through JSS Closed. Each employee who cannot work due to these restrictions will receive two thirds of their normal pay, paid by their employer and fully funded by the government, (capped at £2,083.33 per month).

The Job Support Scheme will be introduced following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

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.

Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loans scheme will offer loans from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover or £50,000, whichever is lower.

On 2nd November, the Bounce Back Loan rules were amended to allow those businesses who have borrowed less than their maximum (i.e. less than 25% of their turnover) to top-up their existing loan. Businesses will be able to take-up this option from week commencing 8th November and they can make use of this option once.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and no repayments, interest or fees will be due during the first 12 months. The government has then set the interest rate for this facility at 2.5% per annum for subsequent years.

The length of the loan is 6 years, but you can repay early without paying a fee.

Before your first repayment is due, your lender will contact you about further options to:

  • extend the term of your loan to 10 years
  • move to interest-only repayments for a period of 6 months (you can use this option up to 3 times)
  • pause your repayments for a period of 6 months if you have already made at least 6 repayments (you can use this option once)

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 one of these schemes you can transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme. You have until 31 January 2021 to arrange this with your lender.

In addition, applications for the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme are now being extended until the end of March 2021.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The interest-free period for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been extended from six to twelve months. The scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank and its accredited lenders, will enable businesses to apply for a Government guaranteed loan of up to £5m, with the government covering up to 80% of any bank losses due to default with no fees or guarantee premium (subject to a per lender cap on claims).

The scheme is now open for applications. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers offering the scheme (and not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible to discuss your business plan with them. Businesses will need to present a viable business application.

Applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes are now being extended until the end of March 2021.

Click here for FAQs for SMEs: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

The Chamber can help you with your financial forecasting - please contact John Woods on

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £200 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.

Applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes are now being extended until the end of March 2021.

Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest,  full details can be found at the British Business Bank

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.

Support for the self-employed

Self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. In addition, the next self-assessment payments will be deferred until January 2021.

Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus is intended to support job retention after the closure of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) at the end of October 2020, by encouraging and helping employers to retain as many employees as possible.

What we know about Job Retention Bonus so far

  • Employers will be eligible for a grant of £1,000 for every previously furloughed employee who;

    • Was previously furloughed.
    • Is still employed until 31st January 2021.
    • Is paid at least £520 a month on average between 1st November 2020 and 31st January 2021. (The employee does not need to be paid £520 in each month, but must receive some earnings in each of the three calendar months of November 2020, December 2020 and January 2021).

  • Statutory parental leave

    • If an employee was on statutory parental leave, returned after 10th June 2020 and was claimed for under Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, then the employer will be able to claim the Job Retention bonus, providing other eligibility criteria are met.

  • TUPE

    • A new employer may be eligible to claim the Job Retention Bonus in respect of employees of a previous business which were transferred to the new employer if either TUPE applies, or the PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership. A new employer may also be eligible to claim the Job Retention Bonus in respect of the employees associated with a transfer of business from the liquidator of a company in compulsory liquidation where TUPE would have applied were it not for the company being in compulsory liquidation.
      To claim the Job Retention Bonus under these circumstances the transferred employees must have been furloughed and successfully claimed for under the scheme by their new employer. An employer will not be eligible for the Job Retention Bonus in respect of any employee transferred under TUPE or under the business succession rules after 31st October 2020.

  • Fixed term contracts

    • If an employee is on a fixed term contract and was claimed for under the scheme then their employer can claim the Job Retention Bonus in respect of that employee provided the other eligibility criteria are met.

Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus in February 2021. Further details will be published by the end of September.


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

Additional measures

  • NB There may be some variations to the above measures among devolved nations. For example, business rates relief in Northern Ireland is for three months only

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 15th January 2021*