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Guidance for businesses

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Business support

Visit our business support webpages for information and advice on a range of topics, including how to grow your business.

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Offers of support

See what support businesses are offering to each other and local communities at this time on our offers page.

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Funding and support schemes

The government's Coronavirus Business Support homepage is the main information hub for business support related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use this business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business, including financial support. Sign up to get emails when new coronavirus business support information is added.

Local businesses in the hospitality, leisure, transportation and events sectors who have been adversely affected by the impact of the Omicron variant can apply for a new grant from Buckinghamshire Council to help them get their business back on track.

The funding available falls into two categories:

  • Hospitality and Leisure grant
  • Additional Restrictions Grant Booster (ARG Booster)

Hospitality and Leisure grant - up to £6,000 available to eligible hospitality or leisure businesses depending on the rateable value of their property. Applications for the Hospitality and Leisure grant must be received by Friday 18th March 2022.

Additional Restrictions Grant Booster (ARG Booster) – grants of £1,500 for eligible businesses in hospitality, events and transportation who do not qualify for the hospitality and leisure grant. Due to limited funding allocation, ARG Booster grants will be paid on a first come, first served basis until all funding is allocated, so businesses are advised not to delay their application.

Apply online via the Buckinghamshire Council website.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has ended, but you can still access the online service if you need to view a previous claim.

If you have, or think you may have, underpaid your employees, find out what to do to next.

If you claimed the grant you must have paid your employees the lower of either:

  • 80% of their wages for the hours they did not work
  • a monthly rate of £2,500 (or the equivalent where the claim period is not a month) for hours not worked

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has closed, but you can still access the online service to check how much you were paid or if you think the grant amount is too low.

If you received a grant payment, you must report this on your tax return. Find out how to report SEISS grants.

The Help to Grow programme will help small and medium-sized businesses across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits.

There are two key areas of this programme:

  • Help to Grow: Management - an Executive Development programme that could help you improve business performance and growth potential
  • Help to Grow: Digital - free online advice and money off software that could help you save time and cut costs

Discover more about the Help to Grow programme.

The Recovery Loan Scheme is now open to help businesses affected by COVID-19.

It can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including managing cashflow, investment and growth. It is designed to appeal to businesses that can afford to take out additional debt finance for these purposes.

The Recovery Loan Scheme has been extended by six months to June 30th 2022.

Further details can be found here.

If you’re a VAT-registered business, see the latest VAT rates for certain supplies that apply to hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation,. and admissions to certain attractions.

You should contact HMRC if you deferred VAT payments due between March 20th 2020 and June 30th 2020 and were unable to either:

  • pay in full by March 31st 2021
  • join the online payment scheme by June 21st 2021

How pay your VAT bill

Any deferred VAT outstanding after June 30th 2021 will be treated as debt and may be subject to a penalty.

The penalty is charged at 5% of the deferred VAT that is unpaid when the penalty is assessed.

Find out what to do to pay your VAT bill.

Contact the COVID-19 helpline for support.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) will reopen in mid-January.

The scheme will reimburse SME employers – those with fewer than 250 employees – for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for COVID-related absences, for up to 2 weeks per employee.

Read more about the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

Further funding has been made available via the Culture Recovery Fund - but time is running out to express an interest in applying.

Grants are available for a range of cultural organisations, including museums, cinemas, theatres and heritage organisations.

Express an interest by January 18th

Those wishing to apply must first be granted permission to apply. To get permission, you must complete an expression of interest form by midday on January 18th 2022.

How to express an interest and apply

Grants will be distributed by the likes of Arts Council England, the British Film Institute (BFI), and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Check which cultural organisations are eligible via each of the below:

Guidance for businesses

Follow the most up-to-date guidance for staying safe in the workplace.

There are sector-specific guides with priority actions outlined for each.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides the latest information on issues around workplace safety, including face coverings, testing and vaccinations.

Advice is also provided on carrying out a risk assessment and sharing this with staff.

Download a toolkit with easy-to-use resources for venues and settings to use where proof of COVID status is mandatory as a condition of entry.

The resources can also be used by those venues where proof of COVID status is not mandatory, but they wish to use it on a voluntary basis.

A toolkit to help employers share reliable and accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters is now available.

Discover all of the toolkit resources here.

What to do if you or someone you employ is required to self-isolate. This includes being contacted by NHS Test and Trace, self-isolation rules and financial support.

The deadline for employers to register to order free rapid lateral flow tests for their employees has now passed.

Employers can still check their remaining options for getting their employees coronavirus tests.

Guidance for people who are self-employed and getting no work or less work because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Association of British Insurers has produced a Q&A to help businesses understand their insurance cover during the coronavirus outbreak. Read the Q&A here.

Support for the self-employed

Find advice and support for self-employed people, including those getting less work or no work due to COVID-19.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has closed, but you can still access the online service to check how much you were paid or if you think the grant amount is too low.

If you received a grant payment, you must report this on your tax return. Find out how to report SEISS grants.

If you are self-employed, you should follow the sector-specific advice to see whether you should work from home, and to find out whether you are eligible to apply for support.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has a coronavirus support hub full of advice, webinars and frequently asked questions. Visit the IPSE support hub here.

Those who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, can make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. More details on how to claim can be found here.

Call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 for more information or view the government's webpage on self-employment and Universal Credit.

If you are concerned about any tax issues related to the effects of COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0241 222.

Further support and advice for businesses

Read about further support available for businesses and employees affected by COVID-19.

An explanation of how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the pandemic, where it differs from the standard holiday entitlement and pay guidance.

You may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week.

This includes if you have to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Fully vaccinated adults who test positive are still required to self-isolate and are still eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Read government guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of COVID-19.

Visit this page to find collections of articles aimed at:

  • employers
  • training providers
  • end-point assessment organisations

If you need more time to file your accounts, you may be able to apply for a 3-month extension.

Companies that are eligible and cite issues around COVID-19 in their application may be granted an extension.

There are other non-COVID-related reasons for getting an extension. Read more about these here.

Read the Companies House process for striking a company off the register if a company is neither carrying on business or in operation, or if Companies House has reasonable cause to believe this is the case.

What you need to do following changes to the off-payroll working rules (IR35) if you engage contractors working through their own limited company.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service provides advice and guidance to help you stay safe at work, or when using commercial or publicly accessible buildings, for example shops, restaurants, hotels and cinemas.

There is also advice and guidance in relation to residential care homes and educational premises.

Read guidance on how parties should resolve COVID-19 commercial rent disputes.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) also launched a Commercial Rental Independent Evaluation Service to help landlords and tenants negotiate payments.

HMRC has produced guidance to help you find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to COVID-19.

Who is affected? You could be affected if any of your employees are working from home due to COVID-19, either because:

  • your workplace has closed
  • they are following advice to self-isolate

Who is not affected? Furloughed workers who are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Read this guidance here.

HMRC support can be found here for those struggling to pay their taxes.

You can also use HMRC’s digital assistant to find more information about the support schemes available to businesses.

The Pensions Regulator has produced guidance to support employers facing difficult decisions and circumstances. Read this guidance here.

Advice for employers carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic.

The end date for the temporary adjusted checks has been deferred to April 5th 2022 (inclusive).

If you have previously taken out loans through The Prince’s Trust and your business is facing financial uncertainty, you can access additional support and advice by contacting the Growth Company Business Finance (GCBF). They will discuss your individual circumstances and agree an approach, and if the business remains viable, the option of a second loan can be explored with you.

Read more information here.

The Rural Payments Agency provides the latest Information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses during the pandemic. Visit this page for updates.

If an employer cannot afford to pay their employees' redundancy pay, they can apply to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) for financial assistance.

Read the government guidance, including eligibility criteria, here.

To support the organisations and people working in arts and culture, the Arts Council are delivering a number of funding and support schemes. Find out more >

eBay announced a raft of measures to support business sellers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more information here.

Discover the support on offer from the following:

Webinars and videos in support of your business

We have a wide range of webinars currently being run by Buckinghamshire Business First and our members that are designed to provide practical support and help to businesses during this time. See this list of webinars here.

Visit our webinar library to watch previous webinars

We are archiving our previous webinars on our website, so you can watch recordings of them at your convenience. Watch them here >

You can also watch these webinars again on our YouTube channel.

Are you running a webinar? If you are running a webinar that provides COVID-19-related or other support to businesses, learn more about how to get it listed on our events page by emailing: info@bbf.uk.com

Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), an Innovate UK partner, has listed all of its upcoming online events in one place. These feature support on COVID-19 and non-COVID-related issues. See the list of events here.

View webinars on issues affecting freelancers and the self-employed from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

Support for and from the charitable sector

Support for charities, not-for-profit organisations and community groups, and details of support provided by the charitable sector for individuals and businesses.

Community Impact Bucks provides information to help local charities, voluntary and community groups, and social enterprises.

This includes guidance for groups organising community support for people affected by COVID-19:

Heart of Bucks has compiled a list of funding, support and resources for:

  • charities
  • voluntary and community groups
  • individuals and families
  • sports
  • arts
  • young people
  • businesses

The Clare Foundation has collated a list of resources and support services for charities, businesses and people in the Buckinghamshire community who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Read more information here.

LEAP is committed to helping to support the coaches, leaders, volunteers and organisations who make sport and activity happen across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

LEAP has compiled a list of funding opportunities, advice and inspiration for deliverers, clubs and physical activity organisations.

Action4Youth provides positive, often transformational experiences and activities which inspire children and young people. 

Visit their website for more information on the support they provide.

The Charity Excellence Framework has compiled a list of COVID-19 funding streams and toolkits available to access. Read more information here.

The Charities Aid Foundation has a COVID-19 hub for the latest funding and resources to help charities and other social sector organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other organisations also have resources that may help charities, voluntary organisations and volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis:

Contact our Business Support Team

If you need to speak to one of our advisers, call 01494 927130 or email: BusinessSupport@bbf.uk.com