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.

Social Distancing in the Workplace

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods. Click here for a free downloadable PDF with information on how social distancing and other measures might be implemented by employers in England to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade.

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.

Additional grants and fully funded programmes

A number of organisations have launched funding programmes to assist local businesses in responding to the challenges of the Coronavirus outbreak. Click here for links to of all funding programmes across the UK.

Job Support Scheme

A new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1st November to protect jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand due to coronavirus.

The scheme will run for six months and help keep employees attached to the workforce.

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.

Employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. Employers do not need to have been previously furloughed.

Discretionary Top Up Grant Scheme 

Phase one of the Discretionary Top Up Grant has now closed.

Phase two of the Discretionary Top Up Scheme Phase 2 has now closed.

Phase three of the Discretionary Top Up Scheme Phase 2 has now closed.

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 Loan scheme is designed to help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and no repayments, interest or fees 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 which will be announced soon.

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 4 November 2020.

Businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan can now extend the length of the loan from six years to ten, cutting monthly repayments by nearly half, through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.
In addition, applications for the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme are now being extended until the end of November.

£10,000 Grant to Small Businesses that pay little or no Business Rates

Grant has now closed.

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

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

Eligible individuals will be able to claim a final grant in August providing they are eligible for SEISS and they can prove their business has been adversely affected by the pandemic on or after July 14, 2020. The grant will be worth 70% of an individual’s monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

Applications for the first SEISS grant have closed.

Individuals can continue to apply for the second SEISS grant . If you’re eligible and your business has been adversely affected on or after 14th July 2020, you must make your claim for the second grant on or before 19th October 2020.

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 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.

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. An individual does not need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant: for example, they may only have been adversely affected by COVID-19 in this later phase.

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.

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

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All employers – small or large, charitable or non-profit - will be eligible for the scheme.

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. Government grants will cover part of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month. This can be backdated to March 1st and has been extended until the end of October.

Throughout June and July, the Government will pay 80% of furloughed employees’ wages, up to a maximum of £2,500. However, from the 1st July, Flexible Furlough will begin, allowing businesses to bring furloughed employees back on a part-time basis. The Government will continue to pay 80% of wages for the number of hours each employee is furloughed.

From the 1st August, the Government has committed to continue to pay the 80% of furloughed employee’s salaries (up to £2,500), however, employers will have to meet the cost of Employer’s National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions.

During September, employers will be required to contribute to the furlough claim of its employees. The Government will pay 70% of wages (capping at £2,187.50) whilst employers will be required to pay national insurance contributions and pension contributions, as well as 10% of wages to make up the 80% total (capped at £2,500).

October is the final month of the scheme and the Government will pay 60% of wages, up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay national insurance contributions and pension contributions, and 20% of wages to make up the 80% total (capped at £2,500)

10th June was the last day on which an employee can be furloughed for the first time in order that they can complete the minimum three week period before the scheme closes to new entrants.
The scheme closed to all other entrants on 30th June.

Employers who bring furloughed staff back to work until at least the end of January 2021 could receive a one-off government payment of £1,000 for each employee kept in work. In the time between CJRS ending to the end of January, this work must be continuous, and employees’ average pay must exceed the lower earnings limit of £520 a month.

When making your claim you must have:

  • created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 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 ess the new job retention calculator here

To make a claim, click here

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 November.

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 November.

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

Additional measures

  • Statutory sick pay relief package for SME's
  • Business rates abolished for this year for businesses in hospitality, retail, leisure and nurseries
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
  • For businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, with a rateable value over £15,001 and below £51,000, you will be eligible for a cash grant of up to £25,000 per business
  • 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

Additional grants and fully funded programmes

Business Recovery Grant

The Recovery Grant has been created, specifically to help Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Liverpool City Region to adapt and diversify following the impact of COVID-19. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), eligible SMEs can apply for a Business Recovery Grant of between £1K – £3K from 8th October.

Who can apply?
All Small and Medium sized enterprise (SMEs) in the Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral) can apply.

You are an SME if you have less than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than £45.1m or a balance sheet of less than £38.8m.

There are some exceptions to this, if you are part of a larger group for example but this will be assessed as part of your application.

What can I use the grant for?
The grant aims to help your business adapt or recover from the impact of COVID-19.

You can use the grant to pay for;
- Specialist 1-2-1 advice. Such as accountancy, financial, legal, health and safety, ICT support etc
- Purchase of minor equipment to adapt or adopt new technology to support your business to deliver or diversify. (For example, a tourism business may need to purchase a second cash register to enable adequate social distancing in its gift shop.)

How do I apply?
The application form is completed online. You will need to obtain three written quotes from three suitable suppliers for your project and submit those with your application form - these quotes must be dated after 8th September 2020. If you're not choosing the supplier with the cheapest quote you will need to demonstrate how they offer the best value for money.

When will I receive the grant payment?
When you are fully satisfied with the completed work or have received the equipment and have made your final payment to your supplier, you will need to submit claim evidence via email to Growth Platform. This will be in the form of

- a copy of the invoice from your supplier
- copy of your business bank statement(s) showing payment to your supplier leaving your bank account
- an invoice to Growth Platform for the grant amount

You will then be paid within 7 days of receiving your grant claim.

Applications will reopen on 8th October

For more information, email or call 01744 742444

Future Innovation Fund

£3m Future Innovation Fund pilot programme has been established by the Metro Mayor to support Liverpool City Region’s small and medium sized enterprise community. The fund aims to incentivise SMEs to innovate, adapt and diversify in response to the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic and its associated impacts on the economy and society.

To find out if you are eligible, email

Business Resilience Support for SME's

In order to respond to the economic challenges our City Region businesses are facing, BDO LLOP have extended their contract to continue to deliver a pro-active programme of engagement, advice and support with SME's across Liverpool City Region over the next few weeks focusing primarily on COVID-19 related issues.

The aim of this work is to ensure that businesses across Liverpool City Region have access to professional advisory support to aid them through the challenges they are facing due to COVID-19.

To find out if you are eligible, email

Be the Business Mentoring

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Be the Business has released a Rapid Response Cohort Mentoring Programme. This 12 week mentoring programme matches SME key decision makers with mentors from leaded firms who can help to explore the immediate impacts, be a good sounding board and assist in rebuilding business once the immediate crisis is over.

To find out if you are eligible, email


Sustain is a new six-week online programme that will provide business leaders with the practical strategies and tools they need to boost their resilience in challenging times. With the first intake of business leaders starting in June, Sustain will be rolled out to 240 city region businesses in six waves.

The programme is aimed specifically at businesses in the advanced manufacturing, clean growth, health and life sciences, professional and business services, and supply chain and logistics sectors.

To find out if you are eligible, email

Peer Networks

Peer Networks is a peer-to-peer networking programme for SMEs that is delivered locally. Through interactive action learning, we enable you to discuss your own challenges, gain and reflect on valuable feedback and implement practical solutions to overcome them.  From finance and HR to sales, marketing and more, our expert facilitators give you the flexibility to create a trusted support network that works for you, helping you to build and strengthen your business and improve its overall performance.

Peer Networks is designed for business leaders who want to grow and develop their organisation for future success. The programme is available to any SME business that has Operated for at least one year; At least five employees; A turnover of at least £100,000; An aspiration to improve.  And ideally has the potential to scale up or export or is exporting already.

To find out if you are eligible, email

Small Business Leadership Programme

The programme supports business resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19. It helps small and medium-sized businesses to develop their potential for future growth and productivity.  Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to make informed decisions to boost business performance.  The fully-funded 10 week programme will be delivered online by small business and enterprise experts from world-leading business schools.

To find out if you are eligible, email

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 30th September 2020*