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COVID-19 Business support

The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the closure of all non-essential businesses makes this an incredibly challenging time. We want to make sure that you have accurate and current information and advice. You can sign up for regular updates by emailing: businesssupport@islington.gov.uk

Businesses who need advice can call the government’s Business Support Helpline on 0300 456 3565. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm.

The GOV.UK website provides specific information for employers and businesses, and the London Growth Hub and the Federation of Small Businesses has advice for small businesses. It is recommended to check GOV.UK regularly to ensure that you always have the most recent health advice.

Last updated: 27 March 2020

Covid-19 Islington Business Support Survey

Take our survey to tell us about how the coronavirus is affecting your business and the kind of support you think you will need.

We have summarised the latest guidance, information and support for businesses:

Grants for businesses

We have now received guidance from the Government on which businesses are eligible for grants in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). The Government has announced that it will give us the funding to distribute these grants during the first week of April and we will transfer the money to eligible businesses as soon as we receive this funding.

There will be two grants available:

  • 25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that have a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • 10,000 for businesses currently eligible for small business rate relief (SBRR)

You will qualify for a £25,000 grant if your bill from last year says that you were awarded Retail Relief, or if you qualify for Retail Relief this year. You will qualify for a £10,000 grant if your current bill shows that you receive Small Business Rates Relief.

We are sending letters and emails to all of the businesses that are eligible. If you are eligible for a grant, and paid your rates by direct debit earlier this year, your account will be credited and you do not need to do anything. Any eligible businesses who have not paid their rates by direct debit in any month in 2020 will need to download and complete this form to apply for either of the grants.

Arts council fund

Arts Council England has set up a £160 million emergency support package to help the cultural sector deal with the coronavirus outbreak. This includes £20 million for creative practitioners and freelancers, with artists and workers in the cultural sector eligible for cash grants of up to £2,500. There is also £50 million for organisations that are not in Arts Council England's portfolio, with grants up to £35,000. A further £90 million will be available next month for organisations in Arts Council England's portfolio and current grants will be advanced by up to six months to help with cash flow.

Help for the self-employed

The Government has announced a package of support for self-employed people who will be paid a grant of up to 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 a month, to help them cope with the coronavirus crisis. This will be based on their reported income in their previous tax returns. The grants will be open to businesses with trading profits of up to £50,000 and who make the majority of their income through self-employment. 

To minimise fraud, only those who have filed a tax return in 2019 will be eligible. Self-employed people can also access business interruption loans and Universal Credit. The Government expects the scheme to be up and running by June.

Business Rates holiday and rent protection

All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive 100% discount on business rates for the coming year through our Rate Relief Scheme. Businesses will receive their new bills from us by the end of March 2020.

There is also a business rates holiday for nurseries for the coming year.

The Government has announced extra protection for businesses with a ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme UK employers can apply to HMRC for an 80% reimbursement of salaries for employees that would otherwise have been laid off during the crisis. These costs are capped at £2,500 per month for each employee. HMRC is currently setting up a system to reimburse employers.

VAT and Income Tax deferrals

Businesses are able to defer Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months and the Income Tax payments due for the self-employed in July 2020, under the Self-Assessment system, will be deferred to January 2021. More information can be found on GOV.UK.


Businesses may be concerned about closing their premises for an indefinite period and so the Metropolitan Police has issued some crime prevention advice to reduce the likelihood of burglaries and other types of crime.

Support for employers

Businesses with less than 250 employees will be able to reclaim the cost of providing 14 days Statutory Sick Pay (per employee) for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The Federation of Small Businesses has set out some useful guidance on the rights of employees.

Time to Pay

Businesses that are having difficulties paying their tax bill can contact the Government’s Time to Pay service for support.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme

The Government has launched a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance. All major banks are offering this scheme and businesses are advised by the Government to talk to their banks or an accredited finance provider. The rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

Food and takeaway services

There are new legal requirements for food businesses in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Islington Council is implementing Government instructions and legal requirements to help keep everyone safe. 

The Government has announced that it has relaxed planning rules so that pubs and restaurants can operate as takeaways. The new rules will last until 23 March 2021 and will not include the sale of alcohol. If you currently operate a pub or restaurant and you want to start offering a food takeaway service please email: Andrew.Jarratt@islington.gov.uk


Businesses that have taken out insurance covering both pandemics and government order closure are able to make a claim. Standard business interruption insurance is not enough as it is dependent on damage to property and excludes pandemics. Please talk to you insurance company to make sure you have sufficient cover.

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