The Northumberland Covid Business Response (NCBRP) programme has been designed to help businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic to recover and restart

It is funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Covid-19 Capacity Fund and delivered by Advance Northumberland on behalf of the County Council and the Northumberland Business Hub.

There are two strands to the programme:
 

Business Advantage

This provides access to 12 hours of 1-2-1 coaching or consultancy for businesses looking to explore new methods of business delivery, increase productivity or become more resilient. It is open to large businesses and SMEs across the county.
 

Digital Advantage

This support will enable SMEs from across the county to introduce digital tools into their day to day business activity. These tools include e-commerce websites and proactive digital marketing campaigns to expand and reach new customers. Businesses in the hospitality sector could have the chance to create bespoke apps fully funded for their business.

For more details and to register your interest go to: www.northumberlandbusinessresponse.co.uk or email business@advancenorthumberland.co.uk
Find out more about Pavement licence.

This page was last updated 3 August 2020


New legislation called the Business and Planning Act 2020 came into force on 22 July 2020 allowing businesses to apply for a Pavement Licence to place removable furniture on certain highways adjacent to their premises for the purposes of selling/serving and/or consuming food and drink outdoors. Pavement Licences are a temporary measure brought in under the provisions of Part 1 of the 2020 Act. The intended aim of this new legislation is to support and make it easier for businesses serving food and drink (including - but not limited to - bars, restaurants and cafes) to survive and bounce-back from the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. As confirmed in the 2020 Act, these measures will remain in force until 30th September 2021. 

Guidance for the new pavement licences can be found here (outdoor seating proposal) has been issued by Government . The guidance refers to 5 days for both the consultation and determination periods, however this has been updated to 7 days in Act itself.
 
The Government’s new pavement licensing regime expects that:
  • All businesses that place seating and furniture on the pavement are required to formally apply to the Council for consent, irrespective of whether this is a new arrangement or their historic practice.
  • There will be a non refundable application fee up to a maximum of £100 for the pavement licence. Northumberland County Council has however decided to waive this fee to help support businesses.
  • Applicants need to demonstrate that they are able to place seating and furniture on the pavement whilst maintaining a clear 2 metre width of pavement to ensure safe passage for pedestrians, in accordance with Government guidance.
  • The licence is only temporary and will end on or before 30 September 2021, by which time other pavement licensing arrangements will have been put in place by the local authority under the Highways Act 1980.
 
Northumberland County Council wants to do all it can to safeguard public health while supporting our economic recovery.  The Council recognises that current social distancing guidelines will have considerable impact on the capacity of cafes, pubs and restaurants to accommodate customers. The Council also recognises that there may be some existing practices in relation to the placement of furniture on the highway that may not comply with this new legislation. 
 
This process should be used only when applying to use a pavement adjacent to the premises for the purposes of selling/serving and/or consuming food and drink outdoors.
 

Please Note: A pavement Licence DOES NOT;-

  • permit the sale of alcohol, so if you do also wish to serve alcohol as part of your business, you must hold a separate Premises Licence under The Licensing Act 2003 in addition to any Pavement Licence granted.
  • allow the use of other parts of the highway such as parking bays, roads, etc.  If this is something you want us to consider then contact us via email at pavementlicence@northumberland.gov.uk providing details of your specific request. Please note that you must be willing to meet any costs associated with legal orders and traffic management arrangements etc for use of other parts of the highway, if you wish us to consider such requests.
Please ensure you have read the ‘Pavement Licence Information Sheet’ for detailed information on the legislation, statutory guidance, the application process, size and layout requirements, furniture, etc.
 
All applications must be submitted electronically using the online application process.
 
All Pavement Licences granted by the Council are subject to ‘Standard Pavement Licence Conditions’.  
 
Prior to filling in the online application you must;-
  • Complete, print and display a copy of the ‘Notice of Application’ in your premises window
  • Prepare a plan of the proposed layout and display a copy in your premises’ window
  • Take a photo of the Notice of Application and proposed layout showing that they are in place and easily readable by the public
Examples of pavement licence area layouts can be found in Section 3 of the Pavement Licence Information Sheet.
  
In order for your application to be processed you also must ensure that the following documents are attached to the online application at the time of submission;-
  • A copy of your public liability insurance
  • A plan of the proposed layout
  • A photo of the Notice of Application and proposed layout plan affixed to your premises’ window

The link to the pavement licence application form can be found here.
Prior to applying for your pavement licence you are encouraged to discuss your proposal with neighbouring businesses and other occupiers with particular regard to noise and nuisance. You are also encouraged to discuss your proposals with any services operated in the vicinity for vulnerable customers (e.g. care homes, disability organisations etc.) where individuals are at particular risk.

The ‘Notice of Application’ which is affixed to your premises’ window forms part of the publication. In addition to this, once your application has been submitted and verified, it will be made public on the Council’s Pavement Licence portal which can be viewed here.

The 7 day public consultation period starts on the day after your online application has been submitted.  

Members of the public will be able to view your application on our website and make representations either in support or to object.
Members of the public can view any application made on our website and make comments either in support or to object to proposals submitted. You can view an application and make a representation here.
Applicants should also be aware of the following statutory guidance which may affect the suitability of any application made: The Council has the power under these provisions to licence such activities and to ensure that they are properly regulated.
The Council aims to make a decision either to ‘grant’ or ‘refuse’ all applications within the timescales as set out in the 2020 Act.  Where this is not possible a pavement licence application will automatically ‘deem’. 
 
Applicants will receive an email confirming the decision. Where an application is granted, a link to the licence will also be included; the licence will need to be printed off and stored on the premises. 
 
A link to the ‘Request for a review’ form will be included with any application that has been refused. Once completed, a review will be undertaken by a senior manager of the Council who has not been previously involved in the determination of your application.
 
Following the granting of a pavement licence, should you no longer require your licence, we ask that you email a completed ‘Notice of Surrender of licence’ form to pavementlicence@northumberland.gov.uk.
The Council will undertake checks to ensure that businesses who have furniture out on the pavement have a valid Pavement Licence authorising this activity. For those businesses who do not have a valid Pavement Licence, the Council may use its powers under the Highways Act 1980 to remove any unauthorised obstructions of the highway and to recover its costs incurred in doing so.
 
The Council will also undertake checks of businesses that have a valid Pavement Licence to ensure the conditions are being adhered to. If it is found that there are any breaches of the conditions, appropriate enforcement action in accordance with the Business and Planning Act 2020 will be taken. This action may result in a pavement licence being revoked.
If you have any queries regarding Pavement Licences please contact us via email at pavementlicence@northumberland.gov.uk.
As lockdown eases, businesses look to reopen, welcome back more staff, and change how they operate. See below for safety tips, and the latest advice about reopening.

This information was last updated on 28 July 2020.


Please click here for business information from the gov.uk website.
  • Pubs, restaurants, and hairdressers were allowed to open from 4 July.
  • Outdoor leisure facilities such as swimming pools were allowed to reopen from 11 July.
  • Spas, nail bars and tattooists were allowed to reopen from 13 July.
  • Indoor gyms and dance studios were allowed to reopen from 25 July.
  • Leisure centres, bowling greens, casinos and beauticians may be able to reopen from 1 August.
For more information about which businesses are reopening, please click here.

 

Advice for businesses from the UK government



The 'Eat Out to Help Out' Scheme

As town centres have begun to reopen, so have restaurants. From 3 to 31 August, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme will ensure that some restaurants will be able to offer discounts for their customers.

Find out more about the Eat Out to Help Out scheme here.

Find out which restaurants are offering discounts.


Please click on the blue drop-down boxes below for more information about what needs to be considered as businesses reopen:
Despite the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic it is important that you continue to manage the significant potential hazard that equipment failure can pose to staff and the public.

Thorough examinations, written schemes and statutory inspections should still be undertaken if due, while adhering to social distancing measures.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance about this, including under what circumstances some examinations and inspections may be postponed, can be found on the HSE website. Please click here to access the HSE website.

Even if inspections are delayed, there remains a responsibility to ensure equipment is safe to use and if it is not, then it must be taken out of use.
All businesses should review their fire risk assessment and emergency plan considering the impact of Covid-19 on their staffing levels, operating times, business processes and evacuation arrangements.

New staff should receive robust fire safety training and all workers should be extra vigilant to potential hazards and risks, particularly if staffing is reduced, or if they are working alone or in an isolated environment.

Please click here for advice on how to keep your business safe from fire.
Guidance for food businesses operating during the coronavirus pandemic can be found on the Government website.

A checklist to support food businesses to reopen safely after a period of inaction is available to download here.

Further detailed advice can also be found on the Food Standards Agency website.

If you are setting up a new food business then you must make sure that it has been registered with a local authority. This should be completed at least 28 days before you intend to open the business.

If you have not registered your business then this can be done via www.gov.uk/food-business-registration.
If your business has gas appliances, flues, pipework or safety devices then you must make sure they are maintained and in a safe condition.

If your annual gas safety inspection is due, you must ensure this is undertaken while adhering to social distancing measures.

For further advice see the Gas Safe Register website.
We have received enquiries from licensed premises wishing to diversify in light of Coronavirus concerns and the government advice regarding reduced social contact.

The vast majority of the queries relate to operators wishing to deliver food with an accompaniment of alcohol or to permit off sales of alcohol.

Before applying for a variation we recommend businesses first examine their existing premises licence to clarify what activities are permitted and whether it may already allow them to change their offer.

If however it does not then an application will need to be submitted to us as the licensing authority, with each case dealt with on its individual circumstances. Please note that due to the statutory time frame for consideration of variations it is worth contacting the licencing team as soon as possible to get the process started.

Further information can be found in the licensing section of our website, or via the links below.  or email  licensing@northumberland.gov.uk and ask for an officer to contact you.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has advice on helping the public to stay safe when shopping.

You can download it from their website here.
When buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risk of waterborne pathogens that can cause serious illnesses.

If your water systems were not drained, cleaned and disinfected before the premises were left empty, then they are deemed high risk for Legionella – which causes Legionnaires’ disease - and other bacteria.

For more information about the Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak and what you should do to mitigate them, visit the HSE website’s dedicated page here.

You can also download the guidance leaflet from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
Northumberland County Council has established a dedicated Tourism and Hospitality Hub to support businesses in the sector looking to reopen.

We have a specialist team available to offer you help and advice prior to the industry’s permitted reopening on July 4 and throughout the first few weeks of opening.

Contact the team by email: tourismsupporthub@northumberland.gov.uk
 

How can I get help?

If you are a business in the tourism or hospitality sector and need help or advice on reopening your business, we can help.

Contact the Tourism and Hospitality Response Hub.

Email: tourismsupporthub@northumberland.gov.uk
 

What can we help with?

A specialist team of advisers can help with:
  • Understanding social distancing measures and how to apply them in your business
  • Cleaning protocols
  • Support for staff
  • Licensing and permission issues
  • Accessing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Who can access the Tourism and Hospitality hub?

Our specialist team can offer help, advice and support to the following sectors:
  • Heritage locations
  • Hotels and other guest accommodation
  • Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway outlets
  • Wider visitor / tourism economy (including attractions, events and shows)

Visit Britain - We’re Good to Go 

We’re Good to Go - Visit Britain has launched a new industry standard and consumer mark to reassure your customers that your business adheres to Government and public health guidance.

All you have to do is complete an online self-assessment and ensure you have all the necessary processes in place.

Please click here for more information
 

Pavement Licensing

New legislation on pavement licensing is due to be introduced later this month. Find out more about this legislation on our page by clicking here. For more information about the national draft guidence visit the gov.uk website here.
 

Other support for businesses

As businesses look to reopen, welcome back more staff, or change how they operate, there are a number of areas you may need to consider to ensure both staff and customers remain safe.

This information was last updated on 24 June 2020.

Please click here for the latest information from the gov.uk website
Information about working safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

This information was last updated on 10 July 2020

There are guides covering a range of different types of work on the gov.uk website. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Please click here to view the guides on how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

There is different guidance for educational and childcare settings and public transport operators.

More information about businesses opening
The latest updates in business grant funding and loans as a response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information was last updated 13 August 2020

 

Covid-19 Discretionary Grant Fund

The Covid-19 Discretionary Grant Fund is primarily aimed at small and micro businesses with high ongoing fixed property-related costs, and businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The fund is currently open for the following categories of business:


Leisure and tourism businesses:

This includes museums, educational and outdoor learning businesses for example a museum or attraction celebrating unique aspects of the county’s history, heritage or culture or a. outdoor learning centre, including those aimed at people with specialist educational needs.  

Also eligible are organisations providing access to inaccessible landmarks and areas of the county as tourist and / or educational attractions, for example educational trips to islands off the Northumberland coast. Applications will close at midnight on Sunday 16 August 2020.


Charities:

We are now accepting applications from registered charities with ongoing fixed property-related costs and which can demonstrate that they have suffered a fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis and are:
- A registered rate payer;
- Occupy a property in Northumberland and are in receipt of charitable rates relief;
- Have a rateable value under £51;
- Have not qualified for a grant under the retail, hospitality and leisure grant scheme or the small business grant scheme;
- Have not received any other COVID-19 grant; and
- Have not reached State Aid limits. Applications for charities will close at midnight on Friday 28th August 2020.

If you have queries about the Covid-19 Discretionary Grant Fund, please email NCCdiscretionarygrant@northumberland.gov.uk.


Small Business and Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Grant Funds

 

Small Business Grant Fund

Any small business (properties with a Rateable Value less than £15,000) in any sector who were in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief on 11 March 2020 may be eligible for a £10,000 small business grant payment.

Please complete the online form if you think you may be eligible. Your details and business bank details will need to be validated by the Council before we can pay the grant.


Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Grant

Any retail/hospitality/leisure business operating from premises with a Rateable Value of £15,000 or under, may be eligible for a grant of £10,000. A property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 but less than £51,000, may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.

Please complete the online form if you think you may be eligible. Your details and business bank details need to be validated by the Council before we can pay the grant.

If you are having difficulty completing the form please email covidbusinessgrants@northumberland.gov.uk. Please provide a contact telephone number in your email in case we need to get in touch with you.

Future Fund

This fund is for companies which are facing financing difficulties due to COVID-19. The loans range from £125,000 to £5 million (subject to at least equal match funding from private investors), and may be an option for businesses unable to access other government support.

Please click here to apply.

 

Fishing and aquaculture businesses

There are two funds for England’s fishing and aquaculture businesses, administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and that target those most in need. 
 
Qualifying fishing vessel owners will be contacted directly in stages by MMO, starting from Monday 20 April 2020.
 
Qualifying aquaculture businesses are being contacted directly by MMO from Thursday 07 May 2020.
 
The second fund is a grant scheme to support the sale of fish locally.

 

Bounce Back Loan

The Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan will help both small and medium-sized businesses affected by the pandemic.

Businesses will be able to apply for loans from £2,000 to £50,000, with no fees or interest for the first 12 months.
 

 

Larger Businesses

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility
 
The government has introduced a financing facility where the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. Operating initially for 12 months, it’s intended to relieve cash flow pressures. 
 
 
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
 
A Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of up to £45m to apply for Government-backed finance up to £5m. The Government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments. 
 

The aim of the Community Chest VCS Skills & Employability Fund is to to support VCS organisations currently delivering support to the skills and employability sector to adapt to new digital delivery demands, and address digital exclusion on service users.

For more information, please contact: communitychest@northumberland.gov.uk

Grants are supported with funds from the North of Tyne Combined Authority as part of its Inclusive Economy ambitions.

Please click on the blue drop-down boxes below for more information:
Northumberland County Council, working with the North of Tyne Combined Authority, is responding to the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic and effects on the labour market by supporting our businesses and communities to adapt. 

The Northumberland voluntary and community sector (VCS) is playing a key role in supporting the resilience of communities and residents in the face of an economic downturn.  Discussion with the sector has identified the need to adapt services to deliver by digital and remote means to continue giving residents the employability and skills support needed as the labour market changes.  The Community Chest - VCS Skills and Employability Fund will allow organisations to become more digitally agile in the services they can deliver, and by raising the digital skills and access of residents to engage with them.

The grant funding is available to any Northumberland VCS organisations delivering a broad base of skills and employability services to residents. This can include any activities which help residents improve the skills and attributes needed to enter the labour market, training, jobsearch, advice and guidance, and general support for progression in work.

The focus of the grant fund is to assist organisations to develop or convert services to be delivered digitally to those who would normally require face-to-face delivery. This can include services or equipment needed to support residents in the lockdown and post-lockdown period, and to raise digital ability to short labour market resilience in the longer term. A ‘digital divide’ has been identified as disadvantaging some communities and cohorts of people in their labour market prospects, particularly those in deprived areas and people who are unemployed or experience insecure employment. The fund should be used to demonstrate closing of digital divide in longer term

The fund can support where additional capacity for digital delivery is required as demand increases from existing unemployed or economically inactive people who need support, along with responding to the needs of those newly displaced in the labour market.
Eligible costs can include a range of delivery and/or equipment demonstrating conversion or development of services to be delivered digitally.

This following list identifies examples but is not exclusive, and innovative proposals which meet the specification are invited. 
  • Digital conversion of existing learning and support packages
  • New, or development of, software packages
  • Webinar packages
  • Online support platforms delivering guided and advice
  • Consultancy or advice for design of products
  • Costs of increasing social media communications. 
  • Cost of IT equipment to enable digital learning and support delivery packages
  • Delivery costs of IT skills training and support
  • Cost of equipment for participants to access services (e.g. tablets, laptops, iphones etc.)
  • Data or broadband costs (This may include an increase of data allowance for participants to access services through smart phones or other devices).
Grant Details
  • Minimum Grant £2,000
  • Maximum Grant £10,000
  • Total funding available £200,000
  • 100% intervention rate (no match funding required)
  • Grants are available for both equipment and day to day running costs related to the project
  • Closing date 30th June 2020
  • Projects cannot start before 1st August 2020 and must be completed by 31st December 2020
Eligibility
  • Applicants must be a not for profit Voluntary Community Sector organisation, Charity or Social Enterprise 
  • Applicants must show they are currently delivering Skills, Employability or Inclusion services
  • Beneficiaries must be domiciled in Northumberland although the delivery organisation does not need to be.
Employers can contact the DWP to arrange a meeting to discuss support needs and how the National Careers Service can support the work force with access to Rapid Response training and other areas of training, skills, CVs, Job searching, employment opportunities and benefits.

Please click on the links below for more information:
If you would like to discuss support available for businesses impacted by COVID-19 please get in touch with us by completing the form below:

Please click here for the Business Support Request form.

One of the team will get back in touch with you within 24-48 hours. 
Changes in business rates as a response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This information was last updated 24 June 2020

 

Business Rate Relief

The Government has announced the intention to increase the Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for the 2020-21 tax year for properties below £51,000 rateable value.


All retail/hospitality/leisure businesses in England will get a 100% retail rates relief discount for the next 12 months.

You will receive a revised bill confirming that no payment is due for 2020/21.  This means that we won’t be collecting any business rates direct debit payments for these businesses in 2020/2021.

PLEASE NOTE: You must not cancel your direct debit, but you won’t pay anything in the meantime.

 

Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

There is a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. There is no action for you. This will apply to your council tax bill in April 2020. However, we may have to reissue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. We will do this as soon as possible.
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 payroll, 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 2020 and is initially open for 3 months, but will be extended if necessary.
 
Please click here to apply for a claim. You will be redirected to the government website.
We’ve heard from lots of self-employed residents who are worried about their current situation.

This information was last updated on 10 July 2020.

 

The government has announced the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). If you’re self-employed, your Income Tax payments will be delayed.

The new income support scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. There are some conditions for applications. 

PLEASE NOTE: You cannot apply for this scheme yet. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.

Find out more about the self-employment income support scheme here.
Find other support for businesses below:

This information was updated on 10 July 2020

 

Guidance to employers and businesses about COVID-19

The UK Government has produced guidance for employers about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and how to treat staff presenting with symptoms. The guide also provides information on support for employers and businesses.


Please click here for the Government’s guidance for employers and businesses.

 


Deferring your self-assessment payment

If you are due to make a self-assessment payment to HMRC on 31 July 2020, you can now have this payment deferred until January 2021. 


There is no need to apply for this. If you choose to defer, you won’t be charged any penalties or interest.

Find out more about deferring your self-assessment payment here.

 


Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the UK Government in full.
 
The scheme launched on Tuesday 26 May and the HMRC has published online guidance here, which includes information about who can use the scheme, what you can claim and how to claim.
 

 


Time to Pay

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress caused by COVID-19 and with outstanding tax liabilities to receive support with their tax affairs. 


Your business may be able to agree to a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. Please call 0800 0159 559 for more information.

 


Support for UK exporters

Export, supply, and UK Export Finance may have also been impacted by COVID-19.


Please click here for support for UK exporters.

 


North East Growth Hub COVID-19 Toolkit 

To keep up to date with the latest updates and guidance visit the North East Growth Hub COVID-19 Toolkit:


Please click here for more information about the toolkit.

 

 


Useful links for businesses

Please click on the links below for information from the gov.uk website:
Enquiries relating to business support measures in Northumberland should be emailed to businesshub@northumberland.gov.uk