Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and support for local businesses
We’re doing everything we can to support our amazing local businesses in Hammersmith & Fulham during these challenging times. It forms part of the work we’re doing as a council to protect all our residents, both young and old, in this crisis.
- Reopening for business during COVID-19 – timeline and guidance
- Check the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) business support from the Government
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Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) which will give you all the information you need to help run your business during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
- What financial support is available for my business?
Use the GOV.UK business support finder to find out what financial support your business is eligible for.
- Discretionary Grants Fund Scheme
The government has announced a limited additional Discretionary Grants Fund Scheme for small businesses with ongoing property-related costs that have seen a fall in income as a result of the current crisis and are not eligible for other central government COVID-related grant schemes.
It is important to note that this fund is significantly smaller than the previous coronavirus grant programmes introduced by the government and will only be able to support a limited number of businesses in Hammersmith and Fulham.
- What other business grant funding is available?
Small Business Grant Fund
Under the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF), all businesses in England in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) in the business rates system are eligible for a payment of £10,000.
Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG), businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 are eligible for the following cash grants per property:
- eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000
- eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
Please note that businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme.
Businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system are not included in this scheme.
Check the government’s guidelines to see if you qualify.
We have dispatched more than £41m of business grant payments to local businesses so far, and more are on the way. Grants are being sent directly to the qualifying businesses FREE of charge. Businesses are advised to check their bank accounts over the next seven days for payment.
Those qualifying businesses which have NOT already provided their bank details and address to the council’s business rates team should email them in to firstname.lastname@example.org now.
You may be contacted by companies offering to secure the grant for you. Approach this option with caution, you are likely to be charged an administration fee.
- How do I apply for the coronavirus Bounce Back Loan?
This scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to access loans of up to £50,000.
- I am between 18 to 30 years old. How do I apply for the Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund?
The £5million Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business.
- How do I apply for the Mayor of London’s Pay it Forward scheme for small businesses?
The Mayor of London is offering 100% free fundraising to help businesses to secure trade by pre-selling vouchers, goods and services.
- Which businesses have the Government asked to remain closed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus?
You can find the list of businesses on the GOV.UK website.
- How can I protect my business, customers and employees?
All the public health guidelines to give your staff, including what to do if an employee suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been to work, can be found on the GOV.UK guidance for employers and businesses page.
- I don’t want any of my employees to lose their job. How do I access the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
- Do I qualify for the new business rates holiday?
All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England qualify for the business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Find out if you qualify.
This will not be reflected in your initial business rates bill which went out before the new measures were announced. Our business rates team will send all qualifying businesses an amended bill shortly.
Nurseries will now be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21, from 1 April.
Our bills were produced before this announcement, so this change is not reflected in your initial bill. An amended bill will be issued shortly to any qualifying business.
For our direct debit customers, we are currently in the process of looking to suspend April payments while we await further guidance from the Government.
- I need some business advice, where can I get help?
Please contact the H&F Business Support Desk at email@example.com or call and leave a message at the H&F Business Desk on 020 8753 5585.
We can provide you with free advice from a business expert online or by phone or signpost you to other support.
If you’re an established business of 18 months or more/self-employed with a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) and are looking for some in-depth 1-2-1 business resilience advice, please contact our resident business advisor Raj Tandon via email for an online support session.
- I run a pub, restaurant or cafe and would like to operate as a takeaway business. What do I need to do?
- How do I reclaim for the sick pay I give my employees off work due to COVID-19?
The Government will provide an update soon to employers. More information is available on the GOV.UK COVID-19 support for businesses page.
- I need money to pay my staff and overheads. How do I apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?
A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is being delivered by the British Business Bank. More information on the scheme is available on the British Business Bank website. Contact your bank as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them.
If you have been refused a Business Interruption Loan by a bank in H&F please let us know the name of the bank and your details by emailing Sam Ridley.
New bounce back loan scheme for small businesses
The Chancellor has announced a new fast-track finance scheme providing loans with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders.
Under the new ‘bounce back loan’ scheme:
- The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months.
- Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days.
- The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application.
- I’m struggling to pay my rent for my business premises?
H&F Council has given all its commercial tenants in council properties a three-month rent deferment.
The Government has advised that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction and to speak with their landlords about rent payments.
If your landlord has refused to give you a reduction or rent-free period please let us know by emailing Sam Ridley with all the details.
- I’m worried I won’t be able to pay my taxes?
If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.
Businesses will not need to make VAT payments for three months. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
Self-employed people are eligible for the Income Tax Self-Assessment deferral. Payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.
- Will my insurance cover protect my business during the coronavirus outbreak?
Check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy and contact your insurance provider for more details.
- How do larger firms get help for short-term finance issues?
All UK businesses can apply for the Government’s COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility. We’re awaiting details from the Government on how businesses will be able to apply for the funding. Visit the Bank of England website for more information.
- Where can I find more information on the Government’s business support measures?
More information is available on GOV.UK's guidance page for employees, employers and businesses.
- I need to close my business. How do I suspend my commercial waste collections?
Commercial waste collections continue to take place for businesses that remain open. If your businesses is unable to open, we will suspend collections and charges. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to suspend your collections.
Businesses which have waste containers that cannot be securely stored during any period of suspension should let us know by email so we can remove the containers and return them when you reopen. Collection charges will remain at 2019/20 levels at this time to help businesses that remain open.
- How do I manage pest control while my business is closed?
The food and safety team would like to remind all businesses, but especially those that are currently closed, to be extra vigilant about pest control in your shops and restaurants. If your business is shut, we would recommend that you visit when you can to check for pests in the way you would normally when you are open and trading.
If you have a pest control contract it is worth contacting your contractor to plan for them to carry out their usual checks, keeping social distancing guidelines in place. If you spot signs of an infestation it is very important to deal with it quickly. If you do not have a contract already you should contact a company, we would recommend using one which is a member of the British Pest Control Association (BPCA).
The ‘Safe Method’ from the FSA’s Safer Food Better Business pack (pdf) gives you further information about what to look for when checking for pests.
In the meantime, please make sure no food has been left out and long life foods such as dried goods, are stored in pest proof containers.
- How do I avoid the risks of problems such as Legionella when reopening my business?
During the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, many business premises have been temporarily closed and may not have been occupied for some time. Water lying in pipes and other water systems may have allowed Legionella bugs to grow.
We have also
- Provided a three-month rent deferment to our commercial tenants and market traders in the borough. We will be working with these businesses to come up with a fair payment plan.
- Helped keep our popular North End Road market open by providing stewards to support social distancing. We’ve also delivered PPE and handwashing facilities to the traders so we can keep this important source of healthy, cheap food available to residents.
- We’ve shared stay at homes and safe distancing posters with local businesses to help them keep their employees and customers safe. Download and print our A4 Practise Safe Distancing poster (pdf 88KB).
- H&F's pest control service
- Preventing Legionella
- Business support from London Mayor Sadiq Khan
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- Free crowdfunding support
- Met Police COVID-19 advice for businesses
Read more on the coronavirus outbreak
- West London Business coronavirus microsite – a new website and phone line (020 8607 2500, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm) dedicated to providing answers to west London businesses’ coronavirus queries
- GOV.UK coronavirus (COVID-19) UK government response page
- H&F Council coronavirus (COVID-19) latest information and advice page