COVID-19: support for businesses

There is support available for businesses at this difficult time. Scroll down this page for more information.

Last updated 23 October 2020.



For information and support, businesses in Leeds City Region concerned or affected by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) can contact the LEP Business Support Service by:


Visit the Metro website for the latest bus and train services updates for West Yorkshire. For cycling and walking information and advice, visit CityConnect.

What impact has COVID-19 had on your business?

We recognise there is a lot of uncertainty and challenges facing businesses in dealing with COVID-19. Let us know in our 5-10 minute survey what the key issues are for your business and how you are responding.

Regional support for businesses

LEP Business Support Service

Businesses can benefit from investment to purchase equipment, plant and machinery, digital equipment, develop new products and process, and save money on their energy bills through more efficient use of energy, water and waste. For more information, please contact the LEP Business Support Service or visit to learn about the support available.

Kickstart Scheme

As part of the government's 'Plan for Jobs', the Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The first placements are likely to be available from November. Find out more.

The Employment Hub

Whether you need to recruit quickly to keep up with the demands of COVID-19 or you have employees at risk of redundancy, the Employment Hub can help your business through free impartial support.

  • Quickly find new employees through the Employment Hub talent matching service. Tell us your recruitment needs and we will find and introduce you to candidates suitable for the role.
  • Access support for employees who are at risk of or facing redundancy. Refer staff to the Employment Hub where we can support them in finding alternative employment.

If you need help with either of these issues, please book a free introduction call with a business engagement officer who will discuss your needs and offer you a tailored package of support. Find out more and book a call today.

Skills Service

Access to online learning, and financial incentives to undertake training, via the further education (FE) colleges of the City Region and private providers. Find out more.

Reduced business membership fees

We are funding reduced annual business membership for new members with The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and the West and North Yorkshire Chamber to help businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic access additional support. Find out more

Peer Networks

Delivered by the University of Leeds, Peer Networks brings together groups of individuals to work collaboratively through common business issues. Through interactive action learning, the programme will help you with challenges, gain and reflect on valuable feedback, and help you put in place practical solutions. Find out more.

Manufacturing Recovery Plan

Developed by the University of Huddersfield in collaboration with the LEP and key strategic partners, the scheme supports manufacturing SMEs across Leeds City Region to recover and build long-term resilience with a three-stage approach; stabilise, recover, growth. Find out more.

Supply chain support 

The University of Huddersfield has a team of supply chain experts who can help businesses to get more out of their supplier arrangements and enhance their positions within existing supply chains. This can include a deep dive analysis of current supply chains and supplier capacity, the introduction of new supply chain models to reduce risk and enhance quality, and the sourcing of more local suppliers. Email for more information.

COVID-19 Recovery Grant Scheme

The COVID-19 Recovery grants were announced by the government to help small and medium-sized businesses gain access to professional support, new equipment and technology. The grant application process forms 2 stages. The stage 1 application is no longer live. Emails inviting stage 2 applications will be sent out before the end of October. Find out more

Upcoming business support webinars

  1. AD:Venture: support for startups

    FREE webinars. Our partner, AD:Venture is delivering a series of webinars on marketing, sales, working remotely, social media and more for start-ups and young businesses.

    Read more about AD:Venture: support for startups
  2. What is your business worth?

    Tuesday 3 November. Understand how to evaluate your businesses, how an angel investment works and uncover any tax opportunities to maximise the chances of success.

    Read more about What is your business worth?

Government support for businesses


For all the latest up to date government guidance on Coronavirus support for businesses, please visit the hub on GOV.UK.


Not sure which financial support schemes you may be eligible for? Use the business support finder to find out.

*UPDATED* A 'Plan for Jobs' 2020

On 22 October, the Chancellor announced increased support for businesses including:

  • open businesses which are experiencing considerable difficulty will be given extra help to keep staff on as government significantly increases contribution to wage costs under the Job Support Scheme, and business contributions drop to 5%
  • business grants have been expanded to cover businesses in affected sectors in high-alert level areas, helping them stay afloat and protecting jobs
  • grants for the self-employed doubled to 40% of previous earnings

Find out more.

*NEW* Job Support Scheme

A new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus. Under the scheme, which will run for six months, the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer hours due to decreased demand.

Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work, but for hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one-third of their equivalent salary. In order to support only viable jobs, employees must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. The level of grant will be calculated based on an employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. The Job Support Scheme will be open to businesses across the UK even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme, with further guidance being published in due course.

Find out more.

  • Announced 12 October - The Job Support Scheme will be expanded to support businesses across the UK required to close their premises due to coronavirus restrictions. The 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. Read more


*UPDATED* Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended.

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, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.

Find out more.

How different circumstances affect the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

If you're self-employed or member of a partnership, find out how your circumstances can affect your eligibility for the scheme. The update includes examples added, to show when the ‘adversely affected’ criteria for the first and second grants will be met. Find out more.

*UPDATED* Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan

Businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will be given the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years 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.

The government has extended this scheme to 30 November 2020 for new applications.

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.

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.

Find out how to apply

*UPDATED* Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability 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 has extended this scheme to 30 November 2020 for new applications.

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will support large businesses, with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million, to access loans of up to £25 million.

We expect the scheme to be delivered through commercial lenders. 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.

This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.

This scheme allows lenders to support businesses that were viable before the coronavirus outbreak but now face significant cash flow difficulties that would otherwise make their business unviable in the short term.

Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.

*UPDATED* Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders will be given the ability 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 has extended this scheme to 30 November 2020 for new applications.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) supports small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. This means smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to small and medium-sized businesses.

The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.

Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.

*UPDATED* Defer your VAT payments

Businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make smaller payments up to the end of March 2022, interest free. 

You will need to opt-in to the scheme, and your VAT liabilities due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 do not need to be paid in full until the end of March 2022. Those that can pay their deferred VAT can still do so by 31 March 2021. More information on the scheme will be available on GOV.UK in the coming months.

*UPDATED* Deferral of self-assessment payments

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.

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment of your July 2020 payment on the account until January 2021.

Find out more.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme)

The last day you can submit claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020 is 30 November 2020. After this date you will not be able to submit any news claims or add to existing claims.

From 1 October, the government will pay 60% and employers will pay 20% of employees’ wages for the time they are being furloughed. Employers will also continue to pay their National Insurance and pension contributions.

Find out more.

Job retention bonus

The Job Retention Bonus is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment to employers for every employee that has been furloughed, and who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021. 

You will be able to claim the bonus between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021. You do not have to pay this money to your employee.

Check if you can claim the Job Retention Bonus

Reopen your business safely during coronavirus (COVID‑19)

Employers in England reopening their business have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and people on site. Guidance is available to help employers carry out a risk assessment and make sensible adjustments to the site and workforce. If you do not carry out a risk assessment, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or your local council can issue an enforcement notice. View guidance. Please note, this guidance is only for businesses that are allowed to reopen in England.

Employee return-to-work tool 

The Government has developed a tool to help employees in England assess if they can return to work. The tool guides employees through questions that may influence their ability to go back to work safely. Employers can share this tool with employees to aid discussion on how employees can return to work safely. Find out more.

Working safely during COVID-19

The Government has produced guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. These twelve guides cover a range of different types of work. Further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen. View COVID-19 Secure guides.  

​You can obtain a notice to display to show you have made your workplace COVID-secure.​

Recovery Advice for Business

Access free support from experts and help your business recover from the impact of Coronavirus.

Recovery Advice for Business, supported by the government and hosted on the Enterprise Nation, gives small firms access to free, one-to-one advice with an expert professional or business services advisers until 31 December, to help them through the coronavirus pandemic and to prepare for long-term recovery. 

Advice will focus on key areas: accounting and finance, people and building a team, planning, strategy and pivoting, marketing, PR and social media, and technology and digital tools.

Get started today at 

Reporting outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 early outbreak management information is available to help businesses to recognise, contain and report incidents of coronavirus.

Action cards cover a range of businesses and organisations to provide specific advice on the issues each type of organisation may face.

Find out more.

Support for university research and innovation during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Research jobs and ground-breaking projects impacted by coronavirus are to be protected by two new government support packages: 

  • A new research funding scheme opens this autumn to cover up to 80% of a university’s income losses from a decline in international students
  • Around £280 million in government funding will be made available to enable universities to continue their cutting-edge work, such as research into antibiotics resistance and the effects of coronavirus on society

Find out more.

Sustainable Innovation Fund

Announced on 27 June.

Government has announced a £200 million package to help innovative businesses bounce back.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies across the UK recovering from the impact of coronavirus keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive. The Fund will help power the UK’s economic recovery and develop new sustainable opportunities for businesses in any sector following the coronavirus pandemic while helping the UK meet its ambitions to cut carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. Businesses can apply for support through the Sustainable Innovation Fund by visiting the Innovate UK website. Find out more.

Support for cultural, arts and heritage institutions

Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries will receive £1.57 billion rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus.

Organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans.

The package announced on 5 July includes funding for national cultural institutions in England and investment in cultural and heritage sites to restart construction work paused as a result of the pandemic. This package includes:

  • £1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants.
  • £100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.
  • £120 million capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The new funding will also mean an extra £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).

Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Repayable finance will be issued on generous terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable. Further details will be set out when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

Find out more

Future Fund

The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.

The government has extended this scheme to 30 November 2020 for new applications.

Announced on 30 June, changes to the Future Fund’s eligibility criteria will mean that UK companies who have participated in highly selective accelerator programmes and were required, as part of that programme, to have parent companies outside of the UK will now be able to apply for investment.

These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank.

Find out more.

Coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund 

The Discretionary Grant Fund supports small and micro businesses in England that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

To be eligible, your business should have ongoing fixed property-related costs, and occupy the property (or part of a property) with a rateable value or annual mortgage/rent payments below £51,000. 

Find out more.

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

The online service to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now available.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

If you’re an employer who pays more than the current rate of SSP you can only claim the current rate amount.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness if an employee is unable to work because they either have coronavirus or cannot work because they are self-isolating at home. Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim.

Find out more about this scheme.

Funding to support dairy farmers

The dairy response fund opened on 19 June 2020. Eligible farmers in England can apply for a single payment from the fund.

Eligible dairy farmers will be entitled to up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during April and May. 

The fund will help overcome the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak and ensure farmers can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

Find out more

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. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

You will not need to apply. Eligible businesses will be contacted by their local authority, though some local authorities have decided to operate an applications process.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants should be directed to the relevant local authority. To find your local authority, use this search tool.

Find out more about Small Business Grant Funding.

Cash grant for retail, hospitality and leisure

If your business is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, you will receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under may be eligible for a grant of £10,000.

Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

You will not need to apply. Eligible businesses will be contacted by their local authority, though some local authorities have decided to operate an applications process.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants should be directed to the relevant local authority. To find your local authority, use this search tool.

Find out more about the cash grant for retail, hospitality and leisure.

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from large companies.

This scheme will support your company if it’s been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.

It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the Bank of England. 

It will operate for at least 12 months, and for as long as steps are needed to relieve cash flow pressures on firms that make a material contribution to the UK economy.

Check your eligibility on the Bank of England website.

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 to 2021 tax year.

You do not need to take any action. Your local council will apply the discount automatically.

The relief will apply to your business rates bills for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Your local council may have to reissue your bill but will do this as soon as possible.

Find out if you’re eligible.

Business rates holiday for nurseries

Nurseries in England do not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

You do not need to take any action. Your local council will apply the discount automatically.

You can estimate the business rate relief using the business rates calculator.

The relief will apply to your business rates bills for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Your local council may have to reissue your bill but will do this as soon as possible.

Find out if you’re eligible.

Support for Businesses Paying Tax

All business 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. Those concerned should contact HMRC via the helpline on 0800 024 1222 or via webchat. Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities

Contact HMRC.

Prevent your business from being evicted

The UK government has extended measures to prevent struggling companies from eviction. Commercial tenants are protected from the risk of eviction until the end of 2020, helping businesses to protect jobs

A code of practice published in June was developed with leaders from the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported.

Find out more.

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