Support and Guidance for Businesses

Advice, updates and support to help businesses plan and respond to COVID-19 have been collated below. Through the following links, businesses can find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

The West Midlands Growth Company will continue to monitor and update this page, based on the latest Government guidance and resources.

Support on offer for businesses and employees in the West Midlands, including free, online resources can be accessed here.

To find more information on emergency funding for tourism businesses, click here.  

Below you will find important Covid-19 support and guidance for West Midlands businesses, the sections are in chronological order for ease of use.

12 November – Local Restrictions Support Grants

A number of support schemes have been made available to help businesses that have been severely impacted by local and national restrictions.

The Local Restrictions Support Grant has been set-up by Government to provide a cash injection of up to £3,000 per month to businesses that have been required to close due to temporary restrictions.
Other measures include grants for businesses that are still open, but have been negatively impacted by the restrictions.

The grants are being managed by local authorities across England, please visit your local council’s website for more details.

To find your local council, click here.

To find out more on the support schemes on offer, click here.

31 October – further business support measures

On 31 October, as a response to the national lockdown, the Government announced further business support measures.

The new schemes are designed to help businesses through November, they include:

  • An extension to the furlough scheme until March 2021 - the scheme will allow employees to receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500
  • Grants worth up to £3,000 per month for businesses forced to close in England
  • An extension to the mortgage payment holiday – borrowers who have been impacted by the coronavirus will be entitled to a six month delay
  • An extension to the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan and Coronavirus Future Fund until 31 January 2021
  • An extension to the Self-Employment Income Support grant until April 2021, which will pay self-employed individuals up to 80% of their average trading profits for November

To find out more click here.

31 October – national lockdown announcement

On 31 October, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown for England. 
The new restrictions will include:

  • No households mixing indoors, only allowed to meet with one person from another household in outdoor public places
  • All non-essential retail, leisure facilities, entertainment venues and personal care facilities must close
  • Hospitality venues must also close but can still provide takeaway and delivery services
  • Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law
  • Everyone who can work from effectively from home must do so

The national lockdown will start on Thursday 5 November 2020, lasting an initial four-weeks.

To find out more click here.

22 October – further financial support

On 22 October, the Chancellor announced increased financial support for businesses and workers.
A number of changes were made to existing support measures including:

  • A reduction to the employer contribution for the Job Support Scheme. Employer’s will only have to contribute 5% toward unworked hours of an employee that has worked a minimum of 20% of their normal hours
  • An increase to the amount of profits covered by the two forthcoming self-employed grants from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750
  • Additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas.

To find out more click here.

12 October - new local COVID alert levels

On 12 October, the Prime Minister announced a new three-tiered system of local COVID alert levels in England.

The alert levels are “medium”, “high” and “very high”. The “medium” alert level – which will cover most of the country – will consist of the current national measures, which came into force on 25 September.

The “high” alert level will reflect many current local interventions, but there will now be consistency across the country. The “very high” alert level will apply where transmission rates are causing the greatest concern, based on an assessment of all the available data and the local situation.

For more details on the COVID alert levels, click here.

24 September announcement – Winter Economy Plan

On 24 September, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined the UK’s Winter Economy Plan.
The plan is designed to protect jobs and support businesses who continue to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. New measures include:

  • A new Job Support Scheme that will top up the pay of an employee who has worked a minimum of 33% of their hours
  • An extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme until 30 April 2021
  • More time and greater flexibility on the repayments of the Bounce Back Loan scheme
  • Applications for all coronavirus loan schemes – including the Future Fund – will be extended to 30 November 2020
  • Businesses who deferred their VAT will no longer have to pay a lump sum at the end of March next year. They will have the option of splitting it into smaller, interest free payments over the course of 11 months
  • Self-assessed income taxpayers can also extend their outstanding VAT tax bill over 12 months from January
  • The 15% VAT rate cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors has been extended to the end of March 2021

To find our more click here.

22 September announcement – new measures across England

From 24 September, a number of new measures will come into force across England. They include:

  • Staff in hospitality venues must wear a face covering
  • Businesses selling food or drink must be closed between 10pm and 5am
  • Table-service only in hospitality venues
  • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’
  • Work from home if you can

To find out more click here.

New NHS COVID-19 app

Launching on 24 September, the new NHS COVID-19 app will help businesses meet the new legal requirement to record the contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises.
The app will allow you to create a unique QR code for your business, which can be scanned by customers to fill in their details for NHS Test and Trace. More here.

NHS QR codes and ‘rule of six’ – all you need to know

There has been considerable confusion regarding the new requirements on tourism businesses regarding the Rule of Six that came into effect on 18th September in England and the new QR codes associated with the NHS Track and Trace app that come into effect on 24th September.

1. New Legal Requirements

On 18th September, it became a legal requirement for tourism and hospitality businesses to gain the following information from customers:

  • the name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group (of up to 6 people) and the number of people in the group
  • a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people. If a phone number is not available, you should ask for their email address instead, or if neither are available, then postal address
  • date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time
  • the name of the assigned staff member, if a customer or visitor will interact with only one member of staff (for example, a hairdresser). This should be recorded alongside the name of the customer or visitor

(In addition, operators must keep a record of all staff working on the premises, their shift times on a given day and their contact details).

2. QR Codes
The use of QR codes connected to the NHS’s Track and Trace App as a means of collecting the required information from customers was initially voluntary. However, on 18th September the Government decided that all tourism and hospitality businesses needed to use the QR Codes from 24th September.

This means that you now have to go to the following website and generate a specific QR Code for each business premises you have, print a poster to be displayed somewhere visitors can see it and ask customers to scan it when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app.

If customers scan the QR Code, you do not have to collect the information specified above.

You do not need to ask someone for their contact details or to scan the NHS QR Code if the person visiting is:

  • a police officer or emergency responder on duty
  • making a delivery or collection by supplies or contractors, including food or physical goods.
  • under the age of 16. 

3. Rule of Six
It is also now an offence for the following business not to adhere to the Rule of Six when taking a booking or allowing entry to a group of customers:

  • hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • tourism and leisure, including tourism accommodation, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks 

Businesses that do not comply with the Rule of Six can be fined issue £1,000 for the first offence, £2,000 for the second, £3,000 for the third and £4,000 for any offences after that. The regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities. However, with the new restrictions announced on 22 September, these fines could be increased to £10,000.

9 September announcement – tightening of restrictions across England

From 14 September, new social distancing and self-isolation measures will commence. This will mean that only six people from a maximum of six different households will be able to gather indoors and outdoors.

To find out more click here.


Local authority guidance

The local authorities in which your business operates continue to keep their pages up-to-date with information that is unique to your locality.

Please ensure that you are also checking these pages regularly so you are fully up to speed on the latest news, advice and guidance in your area:

Official government guidance

General Business Guidance 

Click here for all business coronavirus guidance.

Tourism-specific guidance

Click here for all visitor economy coronavirus guidance.

Click here for details about maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

Business Support and Schemes 

Click here to find out what support your business is eligible for.

All applications for coronavirus loan schemes have been extended to 31 January 2021.

Job Support Scheme – Winter Economy Plan

From 1 November, the Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap with the employer also contributing a third. 

This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages with the employer also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages.
More information here.

Winter Economy Plan

More details on the Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan can be found here.

Arts Council funding

A combined £363 million has been made avaliable to arts and culture venues in the UK.

Some applications run until mid-March 2021. More here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan

  • This scheme will help businesses affected by coronavirus to access bank lending and overdrafts if they need to. For loans up to £5 million, the Government is providing a guarantee of 80% for each loan.
  • Update: Access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS.  Find out more here.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) 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.
Find out more here.
Find detailed guidance here.

Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

  • Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. Find out more here.

Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

  • Small businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector with a rateable value of £15,000 and £51,000 will receive £25,000 each. Find out more here.
  • More details on eligibility here

Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund

  • Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme.
  • You can get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000.

Find out more here.

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 relief. 
  • Most small businesses outside of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive £10,000 each. Find out more here.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

  • The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus. Find out more here.

Time to Pay

  • All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Find out more here.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

  • The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. Find out more here.

VAT Deferral 

  • The Government is allowing businesses to defer their Value Added Tax (VAT) payments for three months. Find out more here.

Income Tax Deferral for the Self Employed

  • If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. Find out more here.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

  • The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Find out more here.
  • More details on how to calculate trading profits and income here.

Future Fund

The scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Find out more here.

Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Find out more here.

Zoo and Aquarium Support Fund

•    If you run a licensed zoo or aquarium in England and are experiencing severe financial difficulties because of lost revenue, you can apply for a grant of up to £100,000.

Find out more here.

Reach Solutions’ Marketing Support

Reach Solutions has announced #IAmOpen, a new campaign to support local businesses to market themselves effectively during the COVID-19 recovery with free services and low cost options.

Free solutions include creative design services, social media posts, a website design and multimedia video creation.

Visit here for more information.

West Midlands Growth Company Partners

Our priority at the West Midlands Growth Company is to continue working with our partners through this difficult time. 

We want to support the needs of your business and employees as much as we possible can, and ask that you continue to liaise with our Business Growth team on how we can best do this. From raising general awareness of the region, to sharing your insights and intelligence,  or promoting the remote services or products you’re offering – please share your ideas and updates with us.

Ongoing dialogue with our Partners will also help us to better understand and communicate the changing economic landscape of the region to our public partners.

Please contact our Business Growth team on the usual numbers or or invest@wmgrowth.com

West Midlands Combined Authority and Growth Hub COVID-19 portals

Further advice and guidance

Businesses can sign-up for GOV.UK COVID-19 alerts here.

Last updated: 19 November 2020