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See the latest news and get more information regarding coronavirus (Covid-19). Find out more about the help for affected businesses, charities and individuals. There is also advice on how to open your business and shop, safely. Please use our online forms, webchat, app and phone number to contact us. Our Wigton office is open by appointment only - call 0303 123 1702 to book an appointment to speak to a customer service advisor.


Help for business, charities and the self-employed

Businesses can get advice and assistance from Cumbria Tourism , the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce , and the Local Enterprise Partnership .

The government has outlined guidance on the schemes available to business.

There is also guidance for employers and how to maintain social distance.

Key advice for businesses and organisations on other pages

More information on help for businesses, charities and the self-employed

On 24 September 2020, the chancellor announced his Winter Economy Plan which included his Job Support Scheme .

The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce. The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months.

The company will continue to pay its employee for time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction), and the employee will keep their job.

The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the employer also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages, where the Government contribution has not been capped.

Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.

The government has launched a new 'Kickstart Scheme', a £2bn fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment.

Funding available for each job will cover 100 per cent of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

Find out more about the Kickstart scheme.

On 8 July 2020, the Chanceller Rishi Sunak, announced his Plan for Jobs 2020. This included measures to help the hospitality and restaurant trade as well as businesses with staff who are on furlough. 

Full details of the speech by the chancellor.

The government's news release on the initiative.

The government's policy paper.

The government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Following government guidance we have reissued revised bills. 

You do not need to do anything

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, has been set up to support primarily SMEs to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee and the scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first six months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first six months of interest payments. 

The government announced a further extention of the scheme on 3 April 2020. The changes mean more businesses will be eligible and there were amendments to what information the banks can ask for. The scheme was further expanded on 16 April to include large businesses.

Small firms are to get access to 100 per cent taxpayer-backed loans after they raised concerns about slow access to existing coronavirus rescue schemes. Businesses will be able to apply for 25 per cent of their turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000. The loan terms mean that no capital or interest repayments will be due for one year; the government will pay the interest for the first 12 months. The scheme opens at 9am on Monday, May 4. For most firms, the Bounce Back Loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.

Help for tourism businesses

Communities that depend on tourism will receive a major boost from a new £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package , the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government Simon Clarke MP announced on 3 July 2020.

Speaking at the Local Government Association’s annual conference, Minister Clarke confirmed the new funding will be distributed to communities immediately to kick start tourism in time for the summer as part of the government’s drive to boost the recovery of the economy.

The £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package, will give small businesses in tourist destinations grants of up to £5,000 to help them adapt their businesses following the coronavirus pandemic.

The government announced an extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme on 24 September 2020. The scheme has been extended so it will run from November 2020 to March 2021.

To be eligible for the grant extension self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:

  • currently be eligible for the the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
  • declare that they are currently actively trading and intend to continue to trade
  • declare that they are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus in the qualifying period (the qualifying period for the grant extension is between 1 November and the date of claim)

Find out more about the scheme.


The government has issued advice for charities which have been affected by the coronavirus lockdown, including details on the financial package of measures announced on 8 April 2020.

There is also financial assistance from national organisations such as the National Lottery.

Historic England also has a Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund which extends a safety net to small heritage organisations at this challenging time. The fund will be used to support third-sector organisations and voluntary groups managing heritage projects, as well as heritage organisations and self-employed contractors who are severely affected by the impact of Coronavirus and who need additional emergency financial support beyond the Government’s measures.

Do also check our discretionary grant scheme to see if your organisation are entitled to this.

More information on these schemes

More information on the schemes above, and others, can be found at  the government dedicated website.

Also included in the measures, is additional funding of £500 million (nationwide) for Council Tax relief through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes. 

Other help

How has your business been affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Let the Chamber of Commerce know to help them to help you.