Coronavirus – support for businesses
Coronavirus – support for businesses

If you’re a Peterborough business in need of support, please get in touch with Opportunity Peterborough directly.

Visit our retail, hospitality and visitor economy support page for sector specific guidance.

New guidance on social distancing has been published. The guidance includes information on businesses and venues and going to work. This guidance applies in England.

Stay up-to-date

Support for businesses

Use the government’s online tool to find financial support for your business.

Use the links below to navigate this page:

Funding calls and supply chain opportunities

Additional Guidance

    • Government guides for 8 workplace settings
    • Trading standards – free advice
    • Protection for commercial tenants
    • Providing proof of coronavirus absence from work
    • Guidance posters for staff, employers and businesses

Business Support Helpline (England) can also provide advice
Telephone: 0300 456 3565
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

The helpline can also be contacted on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Bulletins from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority

Sign up for alerts

Previous editions are all available here


Employee costs

HMRC has webinars available to help businesses watch recorded sessions

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for employees that otherwise would have been laid off due to the crisis.

Who is eligible? All UK employers

Requirements: Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation HMRC.

For guidance on furloughing directors, please click here.

How to apply: Apply through the portal to submit information about furloughed employees and their earnings. 31 July is the last day that you can submit claims for periods ending on or before 30 June.

Click here for more information on the scheme.

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. To prepare to make your claim you will need:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one onlineor by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can do so now, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘PAYE Online for employers’
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, Claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

Statutory sick pay rebate

SME employers will be able to reclaim up to two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. This includes if an employee is unable to work because they either:
– Have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms;
– Cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms; or
– Are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

Who is eligible? Small or medium sized UK based businesses with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020

Requirements: Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.

How to apply: A rebate scheme is being developed. Further details will be provided once the legalisation has passed. The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

Self Employed Income Support Scheme (click here)


VAT & Tax


HMRC Webinars

HM Revenue & Customs are delivering a programme of webinars on measures to support employers, employees and the self-employed through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. For small businesses and changes to reporting, regulation and tax, watch recorded webinars

Filing accounts with Companies House

Companies House have announced that businesses will be given an additional 3 months to file accounts to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Full guidance on applying for an extension can be found here. For general advice on submitting accounts online, click here.

Deferred VAT and Income Tax payments for 3 months

If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Who is eligible? All UK businesses

Requirements: This is an automatic offer with no applications required.

Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers have until the end of the 2020/21 tax year to pay any liabilities. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay.

Income Tax Self-Assessment – deferred payment

Self-assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

Who is eligible? This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

Requirements: Customers should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. HMRC have also scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities.

Time to Pay service

Receive support with tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service

Who is eligible? Businesses and the self-employed that are in financial distress and have outstanding tax liabilities.

Requirements: Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. 

Business Rates

Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

Applicable for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Who is eligible? Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. Properties need to be wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues; for assembly and leisure; as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

Requirements: Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by Peterborough City Council.

There is no action for businesses. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020.  You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.
For enquiries please contact Peterborough City Council: or call 01733 452252

Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

A business rates holiday will be introduced for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Who is eligible? Providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register, and where premises area wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Requirements: There is no action for businesses. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020.
You can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay this year using the business rates calculator.
For enquiries please contact Peterborough City Council: or call 01733 452252

Grants and loans

FAQs from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

For innovation funding click here, for a round-up of all central government grant funding click here.

Discretionary Grant Funding

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. Read more here.


Coronavirus Bounce Back Loans

Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 over 6 years.  The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Who is eligible? Business negatively impacted by coronavirus. You cannot apply if you are receiving support form the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Requirements: Businesses can apply through accredited lenders listed here.

Details on how to apply are here:


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – open for applications

All viable small businesses can apply for a loan of up to £5 million for up to 6 years, with the government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. Please be aware, personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 scrapped

Who is eligible? UK based business with turnover <£45 million that would otherwise be viable were it not for COVID-19. Your business must meet the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

Requirements:  Your borrowing proposal must be considered viable were it not for COVID-19. To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. All major banks are offering this scheme. Please be aware, personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 have been scrapped.

If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) – open for applications

A government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to businesses impacted by coronavirus.

Who is eligible? UK based businesses with annual turnover between £45m and £500m. Businesses from any sector can apply except banks and building societies, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers) and public-sector organisations, including state-funded primary and secondary schools.

Requirements: Your borrowing proposal must be considered viable were it not for COVID-19.  The facility will be available from 40 accredited finance providers.

Apply here


COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) – open for applications

The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support companies affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow them to finance short-term liabilities.

Who is eligble? Lager companies. The Fund will purchase commercial paper issued by companies (including their finance subsidiaries) “in sound financial health that make a material contribution to economic activity in the United Kingdom”.

Businesses do not have to solely operate in the UK. All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible.

Requirements: The scheme is now available for applications. Visit the Bank of England’s website for details.

Future Fund – open for applications in May

The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Who is eligible: UK businesses that can attract equivalent match funding from third-party private investors and institutions. The business must have previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last 5 years. Full eligibility criteria will be published shortly.

Requirements: This scheme is due to open for applications in May and will initially run until September.

Cultural sector funding

Art Council England has repurposed its investment strands to create a £160 million financial support package including:

• £90 million for National Portfolio Organisations
• £50 million for organisations that are not in receipt of regular funding from the Arts Council
• £20 million for individuals artists, creative practitioners and freelancers

Who is eligible? Individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector.

Applications will be open soon. Visit the website for more details:

Support for the self-employed

Self-employed people adversely affected by coronavirus will receive Government grants of 80% of their total profits over three years, capped at £2,500 per month.

HMRC will inform those eligible and payments are expected no later than the beginning of June. It will be open for three months, and longer if the Government deems it necessary. It will cover the three months to May initially.

Those eligible are:

  • Those with trading profits up to £50,000, who make a majority of their income (more than half) from self-employment.
  • To minimise fraud only those already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2018-19, filed in January, can apply.

The self-employed can also get support from:

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans
  • Income tax payments due in July can be deferred to the end of Jan 2021.
  • Changes to the welfare system to allow access to Universal Credit in full.
  • Anyone who missed the tax return filing deadline in January, has a further four weeks (until 23 April) to submit their tax return.

More information on the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS):


Guidance for the charity sector

The Charity Commission have produced guidance for running charities during the outbreak.

Charities can use the Job Retention Scheme, defer VAT payments and should check eligibility for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. 

Further resources can be found here:

Chancellor sets out extra £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities

Charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. £360 million will be directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis. £370 million will also be allocated for small and medium-sized charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund for those in England. The application system for the National Lottery Community Fund grant pot is expected to be operational in the coming weeks. You can find more information here.

Extra Funding to Support UK’s Frontline Military Charities

The Government has announced £6M in funding for Armed Forces charities and Community Interest Companies (CICs) who are delivering services to veterans, Armed Forces families and others from the Armed Forces community. Read more here.


Local support

If your company is offering free support, please email:

  • Peterborough Community Radio is offering free airtime to help local businesses reach their customers. Read the FAQs here or email
  • Roythornes has published a free guide covering Covid-19 and commercial contracts.  It covers the key issues to consider before entering into a possible dispute over Covid-19 related issues.It can be downloaded here:
  • Free remote control and access NetSupport Manager is being offered free of charge for the next few months to help businesses support remote working. Manager works over LAN, WAN or the internet and allows IT teams to support staff working remotely, while staff can use it to access work on their work PCs securely. Click here for more information
  • Buckles Solicitors is offering free Simple Wills for Keyworkers who live close to their offices
  • Home working guidance from Sphere RHSM (click to download)
  • Five ways to beat anxiety during the COVID-19 Pandemic
    The fears and stress surrounding coronavirus can make it hard to cope with daily life and work. Dr Olivia Remes from Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge has written an opinion piece outlining some top tips to look after your mental health during this difficult time. She includes strategies based on science to help take back control of situation and lower anxiety levels. The full article can be found here
  • As a response to school closures, the National Literacy Trust has launched its new Family Zone website to aid the literacy of children whose education has been interrupted as a result of the pandemic


Additional guidance

Government guides for workplace settings

  • 5 steps to working safelyPractical actions for businesses to take based on 5 main steps.
  • Close contact servicesGuidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.
  • Construction and other outdoor workGuidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
  • Factories, plants and warehousesGuidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
  • Heritage locationsGuidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations.
  • Hotels and other guest accommodationGuidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation
  • Labs and research facilitiesGuidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments.
  • Offices and contact centresGuidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
  • Other people’s homesGuidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people’s homes.
  • Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway servicesGuidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways.
  • Shops and branchesGuidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
  • VehiclesGuidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
  • The visitor economyGuidance for people who work in hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows.

Trading Standards – Free compliance advice

Trading Standards, Environmental Health at Peterborough City Council are offering all SMEs in Peterborough FREE business compliance advice, both legal and operational,  on any matters arising from the government’s emergency controls. To access this advice visit

Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants 

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. More information is available here. 

Providing proof of coronavirus absence from work

People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.

Guidance posters for staff, employers and businesses

Public Health England have produced guidance posters that should be downloaded, printed and displayed in the workplace:

Notices to exporters

HMRC has held webinars on support available for international trade, watch recorded sessions here.

The Department for International Trade’s Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has issued two Notices to Exporters concerning the impact on training and licensing activities. For general export control queries please contact ECJU’s Helpline on 020 7215 4594 or

Financial support for exporters

UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions. Help from UKEF:

  • if your business is facing disruption due to late payments, UKEF can help ease cash flow constraints by guaranteeing bank loans through its Export Working Capital Scheme
  • if you are concerned about getting paid, UKEF offers an export insurance policy that can help you recover the costs of fulfilling an order that is terminated by events outside your control
  • UKEF can also support finance for overseas buyers through the Direct Lending Facility scheme, so they can continue to buy your goods and services
  • UKEF has over £4 billion of capacity to support UK firms exporting to China, as well as significant capacity across other markets affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to help cover these risks.


Funding calls and supply chain opportunities

Businesses involved in the UK COVID-19 response can access business continuity and resilience standards from the BritishStandards Institute (BSI) here, free of charge.

The Knowledge Transfer Network has funding calls open for the development and testing of COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics and sanitising tech. Get more information.

£20 million research and innovation fund has been launched by InnovateUK.  The fund is for technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as support people at home in circumstances like those during the coronavirus outbreak.

UK Research & Innovation have an open funding call for short-term projects (up to 18 months) addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Supply of COVID-19 antigen testing kit

Manufacturers looking to bring testing kits to market should follow the forms and guidance.

Any organisations that can supply for sale any or all of the below should email:       

The requirement is for commercial supply of the following: 

* Full testing packages (specification below) 

        * Any of the separate components within the testing package 

        * Any alternative tests government should be considering 

The specification for testing kit is as follows: 

  1. Swabs:
  • Nasopharangeal (Floxsynthetic fiber tipped (polyester) or flocked swabs) with polystyrene shafts that are scored at 80 mm for a breakpoint 
  • Nasopharyngeal (minitip) are currently preferred 
  • No discoloration on the swab bud (i.e. yellowing or brown discoloration). 
  • Sterilised and individually wrapped 
  • No calcium alginate swabs 
  • No swabs with wooden shafts 
  • Nose and throat swabs (Rayon tipped – FDA review in process) 
  1. Sample Vial
  • Glass (20.25 +- 0.25 x 47.25+- 0.5) & Plastic (TBD) 
  1. Viral transport medium
  • Covid-19 transport medium 
  1. Alcohol/Sanitiser wipes
  2. Re-packaging (storage/biohazard packaging)
  • Vial wrap – Specification TBD 
  • Sealed zip lock bag 
  • Second bag (plastic/cushioned) 
  • Sealable container – ‘Biobottle 
  • Postal ‘biobox 

In addition, there is also a requirement for swabs for PCR diagnostic testing.  

Any organisations that can supply for sale any or all of the above should email as soon as possible.