Coronavirus (COVID-19) Supporting businesses

We are aware that many businesses are worried about the current situation and so we have created this page to bring together various advice and links which might help.

We recognise that cashflow and keeping your business afloat are major concerns but finding the right information can be difficult. We will try to keep the information and links here as current as possible.

Financial support from Government

The Government’s Winter Economy Plan sets out a range of measures designed to support businesses over the coming months. They include:

  • support for businesses to bring people back to work and save jobs with a new Job Support Scheme and an extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
  • help for the hospitality and tourism sectors through a continuation of the reduction in VAT
  • support for over 1 million businesses to relieve pressure on their finances and cashflow through an extension to the application period for four government-backed loans schemes, and changes to the terms of repayment for Bounce Back Loans (BBLS) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS)
  • new payment schemes to ease the burden of paying deferred VAT and Self-Assessment tax liabilities.

This builds on the previous measures which include Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Future Fund, Job Retention Scheme, Covid 19 Corporate Financing Facility from the Bank of England, funding for Space enabled technologies to help combat Covid-19, self-employment income support scheme, and deferral of VAT payments.

To find out what funding is available to support your particular business visit the financial support for business section on the GOV.UK website or call their business support helpline.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme from the British Business Bank

To find out more visit the British Business Bank website.

COVID-19 Additional European Regional Development Fund to Support SME Restart and Recovery and Kickstarting Tourism.

This is a national scheme which has been launched by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA). The scheme is split into two grants, Visitor Economy and Restart & Recovery. To find out more visit the CPCA website.

Please note, the funding is limited and will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.

Emergency funding for food distribution

Funding is available from WRAP and Defra to assist surplus non-for-profit food redistributors in overcoming challenges that they are currently facing in obtaining surplus food from food businesses (such as retailers and food manufacturers) and distributing this to people in need or those considered vulnerable. The grant can be used to fund both capital and revenue costs associated with redistribution activities such as:

  • access to surplus food through logistical collections;
  • sorting, storing, freezing, labelling / repackaging food; and
  • onward distribution of food to charities or end beneficiaries

Further information is available on the Wrap website.

Further sources of help and advice

Guidance for businesses on operating during Covid-19

At the onset of Covid-19 we saw businesses across a range of sectors forced to close to prevent the spread of the disease. Most have now re-opened – the latest guidance on closures can be found on the GOV.UK website – but of course, ensuring businesses can operate safely and reduce the spread of disease continues to be vital. To find the latest guidance related to your type of business visit the GOV.UK website.

A number of webinars have also been produced by Government and the NHS on working safely during Covid, covering a wide range of sectors, and for advice and guidance on staying safe and alert visit the GOV.UK website.

Additional guidance on risk assessments for those businesses looking to re-open is also available here. In addition, the Food Standards Agency has produced guidance specific to the Food sector on safe re-opening and adapting your food business during Covid-19

As you will be aware, the Government advice is for office workers to work from home where they can. Furthermore, employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

New requirements placed on businesses within local covid alert level: Medium

On 12 October the Prime Minister announced how the government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England. Peterborough and Cambridgeshire currently sit within the ‘medium’ tier.

More information on local COVID alert levels in England is available, alongside guidance on the restrictions in place which includes information for businesses and venues, and going to work is available at Local COVID alert level: medium

New requirements placed on certain sectors

In mid-September the Government introduced new rules in relation to the food and drink, hospitality, tourism and leisure and close contact service sectors:

  • It has become compulsory for businesses in these sectors, as well community centres, youth centres and village halls, to collect the contact details of all guests, or in the case of a group, one member of that group on behalf of the others. Where a particular guest scans a QR code their details do not need to be recorded, but the requirement to record details will continue to apply to the remainder of the group who do not scan the QR code.
  • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally (from 24 September). To find out more and create a QR poster for your business visit the GOV.UK website.
  • Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm (from 24 September).
  • In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table. This is incorporated in the same legislation as above.
  • Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume on site (from 24 September). Again, this is incorporated in the legislation above.
  • Businesses cannot take bookings for groups of more than 6 people, and must ensure tables do not mingle with others. There are 2 metre distancing requirements between tables unless an alternative measure such as screening is in place.

For specific guidance on the requirements placed on your particular sector, select the relevant guidance from GOV.UK

You are able to seek advice from Trading Standards or your local Environmental Health team on any aspects of the above. Whilst there is usually a small charge for Trading Standards advice services, where you are an SME and your enquiry relates to compliance with the Covid restrictions/measures the advice will be free of charge intially. Please complete our short online form and one of our advisers will be in touch. For larger businesses, any charges will be detailed upfront so that you can decide whether to take up our offer of advice. The Service is working closely with Environmental Health and Health & Safety colleagues so in some cases it may be necessary to refer you to them for your specific enquiry. There is no charge for such referrals.

Advice resources and training

Support from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

  • Business Support One to Ones

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority are offering a free one hour consultation, on the phone or via video link, from an experienced business adviser to discuss your needs and provide guidance on how to access relevant support from our services and central government.

This might include how you can address immediate challenges, how you can engage with broader resilience issues, helping you to explore different ways to conduct your business or diversify. The CPCA business support sessions can also help you to understand and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on your clients, staff, suppliers and others, and help you to lay out an initial roadmap for a return to business. Visit https://cpcabusinesssupport.co.uk/business-support/ to find out more.

  • Business Support Seminars

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority are also providing free access to a range of webinars that are designed to support your business through the impact of Covid-19. Visit CPCA Business Support Seminars to find out more

  • Employers Talent Portal

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority are also connecting employers with staff with the relevant skills they need during this difficult time. For more information visit https://cpcabusinesssupport.co.uk/talent-portal/employers/

Training provided by Accelerator Programme offered by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Accelerator is offering free support to help SMEs rapidly innovate during the Covid-19 crisis. SMEs based in the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough area will be eligible for support to enable them to find new innovative ways to operate, rewire supply chains, and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are met. Support will be delivered through a combination of one-to-one business support, capacity building and mentoring, as well as convening partnerships, and drawing on the collective knowledge of CISL’s global network to support small businesses via webinars tailored to local business needs. SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs can express their interest here:

The focus is on two strands:

Business resilience for existing businesses: how small businesses, particularly in the food retail sector, can adapt during the crisis, and recover rapidly in its wake. The programme will explore approaches that enable business to be more robust, developing ability to cope with future shocks, from pandemics, to extreme weather, such as the floods experienced across the UK only weeks before this.

Innovation Call: A cross-sector call for new and innovative business ideas in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which will address the multiple issues that have so far arisen from the crisis. The programme offers an online Accelerator package over eight weeks to assist in the development of these ideas. This could range from health-tech, to ed-tech or supply chain innovation, as well as social innovations that enable businesses, communities and our public services respond better to future crises.

Digital connectivity

The Connecting Cambridgeshire digital connectivity programme, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, is working with businesses and communities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to keep everyone connected during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

Read the business brief about improving your broadband / mobile and grants available for gigabit-capable fibre connections on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website.

Advice and support on adapting your business to survive Covid-19

Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing teams have worked together to provide advice about the compliance challenges businesses are facing in having to rapidly respond to coronavirus. We want businesses to feel confident in taking these major steps. The advice below is intended to help you adapt.

Trading Standards and Environmental Health are offering all SMEs in Peterborough free initial business compliance advice, both legal and operational, on any matters arising from the government’s emergency controls. There is a short form to complete after which one of our dedicated businesses advisers will then be in touch.

In addition, a range of guidance is available on the Business Companion website, run by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, covering the home improvement, travel and food sectors.

Fair trading

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Hand sanitiser

Restrictions on supply

Claims

Food products

The Government has published extensive guidance on the GOV.UK website on Coronavirus for Food Businesses which you should read in conjunction with the food related frequently asked questions (FAQs) below.

Making food

Alcohol Licensing

Register with TrustMark to become an approved installer under the Green Home Grant Scheme

Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on numerous sectors within our economy. We recognise that many businesses may be looking to diversify and green energy is likely to be a popular field to move in to. The Green Homes Grant will create 100,000 jobs for tradespeople this winter. If your business is certified to install energy efficiency and/or low carbon heating improvements in homes, you can now register to become a Green Homes Grant installer so you can deliver work in the 600,000 homes that will receive vouchers.

Only TrustMark-registered tradespeople can carry out work for the 600,000 households receiving grants for green home improvements. If you install energy efficiency and/or low carbon heating improvements, you must register for TrustMark accreditation to carry out improvements through the Green Homes Grant.

Find out more and register here.

Mental health

We recognise that this will be a stressful time for many so looking after your physical and mental health is important. The following links may be useful:-