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Coronavirus: a helping hand for businesses

Read about the latest guidance for Westminster businesses.

Published on: 15 January 2021

Last updated: 7 September 2021

Financial support for businesses

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) Scheme – Round 3

Following the receipt of a third round of funding from central government, there will be an additional round of grants to businesses that were severely impacted by the four-week extension to lockdown from 21 June to 19 July 2021. This is in line with the guidance issued by central government to all local authorities in England to consider and prioritise those business groups that were the most significantly impacted by these restrictions.

Businesses don't need to contact us as we expect the vast majority will be automatically identified within the next two weeks through our internal systems. This will mainly be done using Valuation Office Agency (VOA) business premises codes and eligible businesses will be invited to apply.

Following direction and approval from the Council’s cabinet, there is a maximum funding pot of £4m targeted to the following eligible ratepayer business categories, as set out in the guidance issued by central government:

  • nightclubs (including sexual entertainment venues)
  • GLA-registered grass roots music venues (where the main business is as a music venue)
  • travel and tourism sectors (including group travel, travel agents and tour operators, tourist attractions, but not souvenir shops)
  • wedding industries
  • theatres
  • English language schools
  • breweries

Eligible businesses will be awarded grant amounts depending on the range their rateable value falls within, outlined below:

  • rateable value: £500,000 or more
  • proposed grant: £40,000
  • rateable value: £200,000 to £499,999
  • proposed grant: £30,000
  • rateable value: up to £199,999
  • proposed grant: £20,000

For the avoidance of doubt, businesses will need to be able to demonstrate that their premises is wholly or mainly used for one of the above qualifying purposes. A business cannot have an ‘element’ of their business that qualifies under one of the above categories, as this would be seen as an ancillary to the business, rather than the main business use of the premises. 

If you believe your business to be eligible and you don’t hear from us within two weeks of the scheme opening, please contact the Westminster Business Unit via email at: [email protected]

Grants for businesses

All restart grants have now been paid to eligible businesses.

Find more information about grants for businesses 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Job Retention Scheme (furlough) has been extended until the end of September 2021.

Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit, are eligible for the extended Job Retention Scheme, which will continue for a further month. Employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. 

Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time, and will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for the average claim, accounts for 5% of total employment costs.

Please visit GOV.UK site for the latest information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Business Rates holiday 

The council will not be issuing business rates bills to certain types of business until May/June. Businesses in the eligible retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery sectors that received 100% Expanded Retail discount or 100% Nursery Discount during 2020/21 will also be eligible for 100% Expanded Retail (or 100% Nursery discount) for the three month period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021 and also 66% rate relief for the remainder of 2021/22. Bills to these businesses have not been issued as part of the Council’s normal annual billing process in March and will instead be issued during May/June, with instalments to commence from July.

On 25 March 2021, the government announced a new Business Rates relief fund of £1.5 billion for businesses affected by COVID-19 outside the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors. This targeted support package will be aimed at businesses who have been unable to benefit from the existing £16 billion business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

View the details on this announcement 

No decisions on the exact distribution have been made yet - but as we get more detail, we will update the website and be in contact with businesses directly. Once we have more details about how these funds will be allocated, we will update the website and share these in our business e-newsletter.

Sign up to our business e-newsletter

View your business rates account

Note: Retail and Nursery Discounts will not show on your account at the moment. You do not need to contact the council to check your discount.

Visit GOV.UK for the latest guidance on Business Rate relief

Time to Pay service 

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.  

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.  

You are eligible if your business: 

  • pays tax to the UK government 
  • has outstanding tax liabilities  

For more information on Time to Pay, please visit GOV.UK. If you think you are eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call 0800 0159 559 to get practical help and advice.

Business Interruption loans 

The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers SMEs access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years. The scheme has been extended and is open to applications until 31 January 2021. 

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.  

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.  

For more information on Business Interruption loans or application criteria visit the British Business Bank. The scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021.

Time to Pay

If you are self-employed and you are concerned about not being able to pay your tax bills because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for support through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Time to Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.  

For more information on Time to Pay visit GOV.UK. If you think you are eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call 0800 0159 559 to get practical help and advice.

Kickstart Scheme 

The government’s £2 billion Kickstart Scheme is open for applications for employers. Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions. Help employers apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant: New guidance for organisations who want to be a Kickstart gateway and help employers apply for the Kickstart Scheme is available. These 6 month placements are open to those aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment. 

Visit GOV.UK for more information about the Kickstart Scheme

Self employed support - Income Support Scheme Grant Extension

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS) has been extended. The November and January income support grant has been increased to 80% of average profits (up to £7,500). 

The grant aims to support self-employed individuals whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.  The scheme extension provides support to the self-employed in the form of two grants, each available for three month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021. 

For more information on the Income Support Scheme please visit GOV.UK