Business support during the COVID-19 outbreak
This page was updated on 8 April 2020 at 2pm.
We know businesses across our borough are struggling and worried about the future. Support is available and we are working hard to get information to business owners about what options are open to them.
Shops and businesses required to close
- All non-essential retail stores (including clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets)
- Libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
- Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities
- Communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms
- Places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families
- Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers).
Grant funding of £10,000 is available for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief and up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and nursery businesses are eligible for a business rates holiday for the 2020-21 tax year.
We have now written to 4,200 businesses who are eligible for grant funding requesting evidence to support their qualifying for the grant. Eligible businesses across Lewisham can expect grant funding to reach bank accounts within 3-5 days from the point the information is received.
Shops, restaurants, pubs, nurseries and businesses in the leisure sector who are eligible will not pay business rates for the next twelve months. In Lewisham, this has already saved businesses in excess of £8m but this figure will continue to rise.
If your business is facing financial difficulties and does not meet the eligibility criteria, please get in touch with the team.
Applying for grant funding
Before we are able to award the grants, we need to make sure that you qualify for the grant and we pay it to the correct account.
For businesses in receipt of small business rate relief email LBLSBRRgrant@lewisham.gov.uk.
For those businesses that fall in to the expanded retail, hospitality & leisure industries LBLRDgrant@lewisham.gov.uk.
- your business rates account reference
- your business trading name and business address
- your full personal name and current correspondence address
- VAT registration number
- your nominated bank account name
- your nominated bank account number
- your nominated bank account sort code.
If you qualify, grants will be paid directly into the nominated bank account of the business liable for the rates. Therefore the bank details provided must be for the Business Rates account holder.
Once we have received your information, the grant awards will be added to the business rate accounts then refunded by BACs transfer to reach the business account within 3 to 5 working days. A Council direct telephone line – 020 8314 6150 – is also available for businesses to call for further support.
By returning this information, you are confirming that you are the correct recipient of this grant and were occupying the property on and before 11 March 2020. The Council reserves the right to reclaim any grant paid if it is incorrectly claimed and awarded.
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Via the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme firms with a turnover of more than £45 million can apply for up to £25 million of finance, while firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £50 million of finance. This scheme has been established to support firms that do not qualify for the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
We have suspended all fees and charges for market traders that are eligible to continue to trade.
Annual business parking permits purchased from 6 April will be automatically provided with a four month business relief discount (33% off the permit price).
Also our business support team will be able to provide guidance and signpost to other business support recently announced by the government including:
Measures to furlough employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Three-month deferral of VAT and income tax payments and deferral of Self-Assessment tax payments due from self-employed workers in July 2020 until January 2021.
Support with managing tax via HMRC’s Time to Pay Scheme.
Support to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to COVID-19 for SMEs.
Access to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
If you are self-employed and have lost income, you may be eligible for the COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme offering a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months.
You can get in contact with Lewisham Council’s Business Rates by calling the hotline 020 8314 6150.
Further advice and support for businesses is available through the London Growth Hub
The Mayor's open letter to local businesses
Government support for businesses
You will know that the Government announced a package of measures to support businesses facing an impact from Coronavirus, and workers. These steps include:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: employers will be able to access financial support to pay part of the salaries of employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
- Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments: VAT payments can be deferred for three months. Income Tax payments due from self-employed workers in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
- HMRC Time to Pay Scheme to help with tax: 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 scheme.
- Statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): SMEs will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
- Business rates support: businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and nursery businesses are legible for a business rates holiday for the 2020-21 tax year. Council staff have started to amend the appropriate accounts manually and revised bills will be sent out shortly.
- The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme: provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant. Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Those with a rateable value of £15,000 to £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. We will be writing to all affected businesses shortly asking them to provide information that will confirm whether or not they meet the eligibility criteria. Once we have received responses, we will make a decision on awarding the grant and pay any entitlement directly to the appropriate account.
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme: The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. 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.
- Commercial insurance: businesses which have an insurance policy that covers government ordered closure and pandemics or government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable disease should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy). Please contact your provider.
The package of business rates measures announced by the Chancellor will help many businesses in the borough and we will be in contact with you shortly if you are affected. To read more about the package of financial measures, see:
- The Government’s business rates and retail discounts guidance
- The Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance on business support and grant funding.
You many also consider if you are eligible for other employment and financial support, such as universal credit support for council tax or housing costs. For further guidance, please read about housing benefits and council tax.
In addition to this, mortgage lenders have agreed to support customers experiencing personal financial difficulties as a result of Coronavirus (Covid-19), including via payment holidays, among other options. Please contact your mortgage lenders for further guidance.
Government support for the self employed
On 26 March 2020, the Chancellor announced a support scheme for those who are primarily self-employed (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you are eligible to apply, the COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended.
To read more about the scheme and to see if you qualify to apply, please read the Government’s guidance.
The Metropolitan Police Business Crime Hub
The hub was created to improve partnership and communication with the business community to reduce the impact of crime.
They have provided some general crime prevention tips (PDF; 294kb) that may assist your organisations in this time. The impact on stores will vary and will naturally be defined by their location, size, criminality, customers, produce and level of security.
The Business Crime team are available for strategic support and connectivity where needed.
If they can assist further or you require more bespoke advice, please email Businesscrime.email@example.com
Industry specific guidance
Creative industries/arts: Arts Council