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See the latest information and advice in Exeter. We are closely monitoring the situation and working with the government and NHS, who are well prepared to deal with this virus.

Business and employers

We recognise that COVID-19 is unprecedented and will have a significant impact on our suppliers of all sizes. To assist with cash flow, all invoices will be paid on immediate payment terms, until further notice.

If you would like to keep up to date with the latest information for Business and employers, then please sign-up to our newsletter.

Updated: 9 April 2020

Quick links to information on this page

Update on Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund

2,000 Businesses are eligible for either the Small Business Grants or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants. Most businesses have been notified by email. Where we do not have an email address, a letter will be posted to the ratepayer.

To claim, businesses will need to complete a secure online claim form, which is available on our website now.

We are beginning with the Small Business Grant but emails and letters to businesses eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant will follow shortly after. In the meantime please see the FAQ’s around the business support grant.

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

We hope the information below is helpful.

For the latest business support announcements from Government:

COVID 19 - Guidance for Employers & Businesses

This guidance assists employers and businesses in providing advice to staff on:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
  • what to do if someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a workplace setting
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specific areas
  • actions to take if staff come into contact with someone who is self-isolating or is a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19

Social Distancing Measures

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolation, household isolation, social distancing, and asked that schools only remain open for those children who absolutely need to attend.

This guidance is helping to reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the mounting pressure on our NHS, allowing those most affected with COVID-19 to access the care they need.

Full guidance from Government in relation to businesses that should now be closed, can be found here;

Where necessary, the government will move to enforce compliance with all social distancing measures by law.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. This is to safeguard workers from being made redundant.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary. HMRC will set out more details shortly.


All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers. Further information will be shared here when available.

Support for businesses that pay business rates

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.

How to apply: You do not need to do anything. This will apply to your next tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

How to apply: You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will contact you if you are eligible for this grant and guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly. Please also keep checking these pages, and Exeter City Council Social Media pages for more information.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants should be directed to Exeter City Council.

Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

A business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year will be introduced.

How to apply: You do not need to do anything. This will apply to your next tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

More Information can be found on our Business Rates Pages:

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates due to Small Business Rate Relief

The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that are in receipt of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief and therefore pay little or no business rates. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

How to apply: You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to Exeter City Council.

More information can be found on our Business Rates Pages;

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

In the latest step to support individuals and businesses, the Chancellor has set out plans that will see the self-employed receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.

If you are self-employed or a member of a partnership, you will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

At least half of your income needs to have originated from self-employment, as registered on your 2018-19 tax return filed in January - anybody who missed the filing deadline you must do this by 23 April 2020.

You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 per annum and more than half of your income come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:

  • having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income
  • having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 per annum and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period
  • If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return. Unlike the employee scheme, if you are self-employed you can continue to work as you receive support.

The money, backdated to March, will be paid directly into people's banks accounts by HMRC.

  • The grants will be taxable, and will need to be declared on tax returns by January 2022.
  • Company owners who pay themselves a dividend are not covered.

Before grant payments are made, the self-employed will still be able to access other government support for those affected by coronavirus including more generous universal credit and business interruption loans where they have a business bank account.

How to apply

You do not need to get in touch with HMRC as the scheme isn’t yet open for applications. HMRC will contact eligible customers by the beginning of June, inviting them to apply.

Heart of the South West Growth Hub

You can keep up to date with the latest information and advice plus guidance for employers and business on the Heart of the South West website.

General enquiries Telephone 03456 047 047

Business Support

You can contact the government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice.

0300 456 3565, Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

COVID 19 - Support announced in Budget

The Budget has announced a plan to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19. This publication gives further detail on the measures announced by the Chancellor including additional funding, Statutory Sick Pay changes, and an increase in the Business Rates retail discount for one year.

Ensure your business has a business plan and especially an up to date business continuity plan:

COVID 19 - Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in a matter of weeks to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £1.2 million in value. This new guarantee will initially support up to £1 billion of lending on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank.

Other Finance Options

A number of private lenders and banks are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Businesses can also access a range of finance through the Government-owned British Business Bank, visit the Bank's Finance Hub below for further information.

Support for businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to Coronavirus.

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. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. These businesses can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline from 11 March 2020 for advice and support. To ensure ongoing support, HMRC have made a further 2,000 experienced call handlers available to support firms and individuals when needed. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Funding Opportunities

Apply for Sport England’s Coronavirus fund to help the sector and keep the nation moving.

English Heritage have created a £50million emergency fund to support the UK heritage sector as an immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Musicians Union have set up a £1million hardship fund that members with genuine and pressing hardship can apply to.

Innovate UK regularly post competitions for businesses based within the UK to compete for government-backed funding to:

  • research and develop a process, product or service
  • test your innovation ideas
  • collaborate with other organisations

Employer & Employee Advice

ACAS Advice for Employers & Employees

Coronavirus information for employers and employees which is updated daily includes information on statutory redundancy pay or redundancy rights

ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100

Coronavirus and Claiming Benefits

For those with queries about benefit claims – new and existing, in relation to Coronavirus;

Key workers

Guidance on key workers (those critical to the Covid-19 response) an educational provision for their children

Hardship Fund

£500 million has been made available through Local Authorities to support economically vulnerable people and households in the local areas. This money will predominantly be given as Council Tax Relief through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes


When this content has been updated

Last updated 1 July 2020