Coronavirus: help for businesses

Updated: 18 May 2020

Discretionary grants

Guidance on the Discretionary Grants Scheme was published by the Government on 14 May 2020 and we are working through this to develop a local Scheme.

The guidance states that the scheme should be primarily and predominantly aimed at:

  • Small and micro businesses (as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006)
  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000

The government has stated that the following should be prioritised:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces (examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment)
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief

The guidance is also clear that the following must apply:

  • Business must have been trading on 11 March 2020
  • Business must have fixed property costs, e.g. rent/mortgage, utilities, possible buildings insurance
  • Business must meet the definition of a small business under the Companies Act 2006, that is to meet two of the following three conditions:
    • turnover: not more than £10.2 million
    • balance sheet total: not more than 5.1 million
    • number of employees: a headcount of staff of less than 50
  • The guidance also refers to micro businesses but as the test for that is lower than for a small business, we need not concern ourselves with that
  • The business must not be in administration, insolvency or received a striking off notice

We are working hard to develop the scheme for North Hertfordshire within these parameters and we hope to publish this as soon as possible.

The application process will involve completion of an online form.

Business support grant funds

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the government has announced support for small businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Two new grant funding schemes have been announced:

  • Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF)
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

Small Business Grant Fund

This is a payment of £10,000 payable to ratepayers of properties that on 11 March 2020 qualified under the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme, including those properties with rateable values between £12,001 and £15,000, that qualified for tapered Relief and those properties that were eligible for Rural Rate Relief.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund

This is payable to ratepayers of properties, which on 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme, had that Scheme been in force on that date. Ratepayers of properties up to a rateable value of £15,000 will receive £10,000 and those with a rateable value between £15,001 and £50,999 will receive £25,000.

There will be a number of businesses (in particular those that do not pay their Business Rates by Direct Debit) where we need to obtain bank details in order to make the payments. We are contacting businesses separately on this. Please bear with us as we may contact you even if you do pay by Direct Debit as it will speed up the process. If that is the case, there is no need to respond to the request.

Payments are now being processed daily.

How to apply

Send us your details online: 

Apply for a Business Grant

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus can apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits.

Individuals are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, they traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020, intend to continue trading, and they:

  • earn at least half of their income through self-employment
  • have trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year
  • traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted their Self Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year

HMRC calculate the amount to be paid to each eligible claimant based on an average of the tax returns for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.  

Customers have been invited to claim their SEISS grant on a specified date, from 13-18 May. You won’t be able to apply before your claim date but can make a claim after that day. 

You can check your date using HMRC’s online checker at any time. 

Business rates direct debits

Direct Debit payments are being stopped for those businesses that have received their annual bill and will now not have to pay any Business Rates because of the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme.

We will send revised bills to reflect the fact that no payments are due to those businesses effected by this as soon as possible.

Government support and guidance

Government support programmes (including help for business ratepayers, statutory sick pay, business liquidity loans, loan support for larger firms and with HMRC) can be found here:

As part of the government's measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, some businesses must close:

Regional support and guidance

General coronavirus advice and help for business is available on: 

As the central point of access for business support in Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire Growth Hub is on hand to help businesses access the advice and guidance they need to minimise the impact of COVID-19. Hertfordshire Growth Hub’s dedicated COVID-19 Business Resource Page contains the latest news, resources and support all in one place, from Government updates to looking after your employees wellbeing.

Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Visit Herts are working in partnership to offer small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors the chance to unlock between £2000 and £5000 in match funding to help overcome the challenges of Covid-19. 

The £200,000 Hertfordshire LEP fund will be administered by Visit Herts and delivered through the Crowdfunder Pay it Forward platform. Participating businesses will raise money for their project through pledges from their community and loyal customers. Once a business secures their target through the Crowdfunder campaign, successful applicants will be able to unlock between £2,000 - £5,000 in match-funding from the Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund.

To qualify, your business will need to be located in Hertfordshire and be a micro or small business primarily operating in tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts or culture sectors. You will need to demonstrate that your business has been affected by Covid-19 and how you would use the funding to adapt your current business to either operate during lockdown, or to adjust to post lockdown measures. You will also need to clearly demonstrate that the adjustments you intend to make will help protect jobs directly within your business. 

If you think your business is eligible and are interested in finding out more information, please visit the Visit Herts website for full business guidance and details of how to get involved. 

Payment of invoices

We are aware that some businesses may be experiencing difficulties due to the current situation, so we are moving to immediate payment terms for invoices. This means that as long as there is no existing dispute with an invoice, it will be paid on the next available payment run after being approved by the department and will not have to wait the normal 26 days before being paid.