Support and Guidance for Businesses

Advice, updates and support to help businesses plan and respond to COVID-19 have been collated below. Through the following links, businesses can find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

The West Midlands Growth Company will continue to monitor and update this page, based on the latest Government guidance and resources.

Support on offer for businesses and employees in the West Midlands, including free, online resources can be accessed here.

To find more information on emergency funding for tourism businesses, click here. 

22 September announcement – new measures across England

From 24 September, a number of new measures will come into force across England. They include:

  • Staff in hospitality venues must wear a face covering
  • Businesses selling food or drink must be closed between 10pm and 5am
  • Table-service only in hospitality venues
  • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’
  • Work from home if you can

To find out more click here.

NHS QR codes and ‘rule of six’ – all you need to know

There has been considerable confusion regarding the new requirements on tourism businesses regarding the Rule of Six that came into effect on 18th September in England and the new QR codes associated with the NHS Track and Trace app that come into effect on 24th September.

1. New Legal Requirements

On 18th September, it became a legal requirement for tourism and hospitality businesses to gain the following information from customers:

  • the name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group (of up to 6 people) and the number of people in the group
  • a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people. If a phone number is not available, you should ask for their email address instead, or if neither are available, then postal address
  • date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time
  • the name of the assigned staff member, if a customer or visitor will interact with only one member of staff (for example, a hairdresser). This should be recorded alongside the name of the customer or visitor

(In addition, operators must keep a record of all staff working on the premises, their shift times on a given day and their contact details).

2. QR Codes
The use of QR codes connected to the NHS’s Track and Trace App as a means of collecting the required information from customers was initially voluntary. However, on 18th September the Government decided that all tourism and hospitality businesses needed to use the QR Codes from 24th September.

This means that you now have to go to the following website and generate a specific QR Code for each business premises you have, print a poster to be displayed somewhere visitors can see it and ask customers to scan it when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app.

If customers scan the QR Code, you do not have to collect the information specified above.

You do not need to ask someone for their contact details or to scan the NHS QR Code if the person visiting is:

  • a police officer or emergency responder on duty
  • making a delivery or collection by supplies or contractors, including food or physical goods.
  • under the age of 16. 

3. Rule of Six
It is also now an offence for the following business not to adhere to the Rule of Six when taking a booking or allowing entry to a group of customers:

  • hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • tourism and leisure, including tourism accommodation, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks 

Businesses that do not comply with the Rule of Six can be fined issue £1,000 for the first offence, £2,000 for the second, £3,000 for the third and £4,000 for any offences after that. The regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities. However, with the new restrictions announced on 22 September, these fines could be increased to £10,000.

9 September announcement – tightening of restrictions across England

From 14 September, new social distancing and self-isolation measures will commence. This will mean that only six people from a maximum of six different households will be able to gather indoors and outdoors.

To find out more click here.

Local restrictions

From 15 September, Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell residents are not allowed to mix with other households inside their homes or gardens except if part of a support bubble.

These rules do not apply to hospitality or leisure settings.

Find out more here.

Local authority guidance

The local authorities in which your business operates continue to keep their pages up-to-date with information that is unique to your locality.

Please ensure that you are also checking these pages regularly so you are fully up to speed on the latest news, advice and guidance in your area:

Official government guidance

New NHS COVID-19 app

Launching on 24 September, the new NHS COVID-19 app will help businesses meet the new legal requirement to record the contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises.

The app will allow you to create a unique QR code for your business, which can be scanned by customers to fill in their details for NHS Test and Trace. More here.

The Chancellor's 'Plan for Jobs'

Click here for information on the Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs’, announced on 8 July. The document highlights information on the new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme for people under the age of 25; a cut in VAT from 20% to 5% on most tourism and hospitality-related activities; the new ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount scheme; and a bonus scheme to re-employ furloughed workers.

General Business Guidance 

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. Read here.

Click here to find guidance for businesses providing outdoor facilities on the phased return of sport in England.

Public bodies, organisations and charities have produced additional resources that may be useful to employers and employees, find out more here.

Further guidance for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations can be found here.

Tourism-specific guidance

The government has also published new guidance for reopening the visitor economy to take effect in England on 4 July. Read here.

From 11 July, outdoor pools and outdoor performing arts shows can reopen.

From 3 July, beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close-contact services can reopen. More here.

From 25 July, indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen. More here. 

From 15 August, bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos, theatres and close contact services such as beauticians can reopen. More here.

From October, the Government intends to reopen larger gatherings in venues such as sport stadia, conferences and other business event, subject to the success of pilots beforehand. More here

Business Support and Schemes 

Click here to find out what support your business is eligible for.

Arts Council funding

A combined £363 million has been made avaliable to arts and culture venues in the UK.

Many application deadlines finish mid-August to early September. More here.

Second round of Local Authority Discretionary Business Grants

Up to £25,000 of grant funding is available through the second wave of Local Authority Discretionary Business Grants scheme.

Applications are now open, please navigate to your local authorities website – links are above.

Eat Out to Help Out

The new Eat Out to Help Out scheme will help to incentivise customers back into the UK’s restaurants, cafes and pubs. 

Running from the 3-31 August 2020 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the scheme will give a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per customer on food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Find out more on how to register here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan

  • This scheme will help businesses affected by coronavirus to access bank lending and overdrafts if they need to. For loans up to £5 million, the Government is providing a guarantee of 80% for each loan.
  • Update: Access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS.  Find out more here.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £200 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.
Find out more here.
Find detailed guidance here.

Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

  • Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. Find out more here.

Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

  • Small businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector with a rateable value of £15,000 and £51,000 will receive £25,000 each. Find out more here.
  • More details on eligibility here

Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund

  • Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme.
  • You can get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000.

Find out more here.

Small Business Grant Funding

  • The Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. 
  • Most small businesses outside of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive £10,000 each. Find out more here.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

  • The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small and medium-sized businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of coronavirus. Find out more here.

Time to Pay

  • All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Find out more here.

Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

  • The new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) means that the Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies. Find out more here.

VAT Deferral 

  • The Government is allowing businesses to defer their Value Added Tax (VAT) payments for three months. Find out more here.

Income Tax Deferral for the Self Employed

  • If you are self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. Find out more here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • 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. Find out more here and find detailed guidance here
  • The furlough cut-off date has been extended, read here.

A step-by-step guide to applying for the scheme can be found here.

The furlough cut-off date has been extended until October, read here

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

  • The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Find out more here.
  • More details on how to calculate trading profits and income here.

Future Fund

The scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Find out more here.

Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Find out more here.

Zoo and Aquarium Support Fund

•    If you run a licensed zoo or aquarium in England and are experiencing severe financial difficulties because of lost revenue, you can apply for a grant of up to £100,000.

Find out more here.

Reach Solutions’ Marketing Support

Reach Solutions has announced #IAmOpen, a new campaign to support local businesses to market themselves effectively during the COVID-19 recovery with free services and low cost options.

Free solutions include creative design services, social media posts, a website design and multimedia video creation.

Visit here for more information.

West Midlands Growth Company Partners

Our priority at the West Midlands Growth Company is to continue working with our partners through this difficult time. 

We want to support the needs of your business and employees as much as we possible can, and ask that you continue to liaise with our Business Growth team on how we can best do this. From raising general awareness of the region, to sharing your insights and intelligence,  or promoting the remote services or products you’re offering – please share your ideas and updates with us.

Ongoing dialogue with our Partners will also help us to better understand and communicate the changing economic landscape of the region to our public partners.

Please contact our Business Growth team on the usual numbers or or invest@wmgrowth.com

West Midlands Combined Authority and Growth Hub COVID-19 portals

Further advice and guidance

Businesses can sign-up for GOV.UK COVID-19 alerts here.

Last updated: 23 September 2020