Northumberland County Council and Government are working together to support businesses through this challenging time. Our businesses are vitally important to our county.

The council has established a Business Hub with a specialist team who will work hard to support businesses and employers. We will support you both during and after the current Coronavirus outbreak.

Please click on the links below for information from the gov.uk website:
You can also find information on the government business support Facebook page.

Below you will find more details about these measures, including how to register for Government grants:
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.

With in the accordions you can find:
  • Equipment inspection
  • Fire safety
  • Food safety
  • Gas safety
  • Licensing
  • Staying safe while shopping
  • Water system safety
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 guidance about this, including under what circumstances some examinations and inspections may be postponed, can be found on 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.

Advice on keeping your business safe from fire can be found here www.northumberland.gov.uk/Fire/Business.aspx
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.
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.

You can also download the guidance leaflet from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
The latest updates in business grant funding and loans as a response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information was last updated 2 June 2020

 

Covid-19 Discretionary Grant Fund

On 1 May the Government announced a top up grant for certain small and micro businesses who were not eligible for previous grants, which have relatively high ongoing, fixed property-related costs, and can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis. 
 
The Government provided local authorities with guidance on how the scheme should operate in late May and asked them to develop and implement schemes, within national guidance and eligibility criteria, which met the needs of the local economy.
 
In line with national guidance, and in order to benefit the maximum number of eligible small businesses in Northumberland, the council will invite applications for the Discretionary Grant Fund from businesses including the following:
  • Serviced B&Bs with 3 bed spaces and above and which pay Council Tax instead of business rates (not self-catering properties or Airbnb);
  • Businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Small charities in receipt of charitable rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief;
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment; and
  • Hotels and pubs with a rateable value which is more than £51,000.
 
 
Applications are open from Monday 1 June until Sunday 14 June at midnight. 

 

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 between £15,000 and £51,000 on 11 March 2020 may be eligible for a £25,000 grant.

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.
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.
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 22 April 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 22 April 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.
Business Northumberland is offering digital workshops tailored for tourism businesses.

The workshops aim is to support Northumberland tourism businesses, recover, restart, refresh and re-emerge. The workshops will encourage tourism businesses to reengage and continue engagement with customers through social media, understanding how they can tap into new markets/customers utilising Google Analytics, up their marketing campaigns, through email and online as well as creating a digital marketing strategy.

The workshops will run from Monday 15 June to Friday 19 June. There will also be a tourism networking session on Friday 12 June  where industry experts The Tourism Management Institute will be talking about planning for the future.

To sign up for the workshops or to find out more go to:  https://www.businessnorthumberland.co.uk/index.php/events
Find other support for businesses below:

This information was updated on 27 May 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