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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. Also see what support might be available to your business .

There is also guidance for employers and how to operate safely.

Coronavirus restrictions

England is currently in Step 4.

The government has also released its Autumn/Winter plan for tackling the spread of Covid-19. There are two plans - A and B.

Plan A

Over autumn and winter, the Government will aim to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges, while ensuring the National Health Service (NHS) does not come under unsustainable pressure.

The Government plans to achieve this by:

  • Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease modifying therapeutics.
  • Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace and Isolate.
  • Supporting the NHS and social care: managing pressures and recovering services.
  • Advising people on how to protect themselves and others: clear guidance and communications.
  • Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border.

Plan B

If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the Government has prepared a Plan B for England. The Government hopes not to have to implement Plan B, but given the uncertainty, it is setting out details now so that the public and businesses know what to expect if further measures become necessary.

Given the high levels of protection in the adult population against COVID-19 by vaccination, relatively small changes in policy and behaviour could have a big impact on reducing (or increasing) transmission, bending the epidemic curve and relieving pressure on the NHS. Thanks to the success of the vaccination programme, it should be possible to handle a further resurgence with less damaging measures than the lockdowns and economic and social restrictions deployed in the past. The Government would provide prior notice as far as possible to the public and Parliament ahead of implementing any necessary changes in a Plan B scenario.

The Government’s Plan B prioritises measures which can help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impacts. This includes:

  • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
  • Introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings.
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.

The Government would also consider asking people once again to work from home if they can, for a limited period. The Government recognises this causes more disruption and has greater immediate costs to the economy and some businesses than the other Plan B interventions, so a final decision would be made based on the data at the time.

Key advice for businesses and organisations on other pages

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

The government launched in April 2021 a new loan scheme to provide further support to protect businesses and jobs.

Businesses – ranging from coffee shops and restaurants, to hairdressers and gyms – can now access loans varying in size from £25,000, up to a maximum of £10 million. Loans will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap.

Find out more about the loan scheme.

Boosting the nation’s skills with the expertise employers need is a key part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs

  • The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is part of the Government’s work to transform the adult education system so that businesses can find or develop talented people of all ages to fill skills gaps and help adults get the skills they need throughout their life, from free Level 3 qualifications and Skills Bootcamps, to basic skills offers and more.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, the Government is offering eligible adults the opportunity to take a free Level 3 qualification from a choice of courses focussed on the skills our economy needs

  • All courses have been identified to help ensure good job prospects, focussing on areas where employers are looking for skills and leading to job opportunities that can help adults earn a good wage.

You can benefit by supporting your staff to upskill or reskill into a higher level role in your business, without needing to fund the training

  • Hold onto your talented staff by helping them to gain a qualification and progress in your business.

Find out more on the Government website.

Businesses are being encouraged to bring in regular rapid-result COVID-19 testing for their workforce. 

Cumbria County Council is offering businesses two ways to access regular rapid result Lateral Flow COVID-19 testing for employees.

  • Protect your workforce, your business and your customers
  • Free training, free tests, free ongoing support and backup
  • Over 140 Cumbrian businesses already signed up

Find out more on the Cumbria County Council website .

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.

Find out more about the VAT cut for the retail, accomodation and hospitality industry.

As announced at budget 2021, the government will be legislating to:

  • extend the temporary reduced rate of VAT of 5% until 30 September 2021
  • prepare for a new rate of 12.5% from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022

The supplies to which the temporary reduced rates will apply remain the same.

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. 

We have also extended various exemptions into the 2021/22 financial year. Find out more on our business rates exemption page .

You do not need to do anything

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.

The Arts Council also has information on the help and assistance available to museums and arts organisations. 

Thinking of starting a business? Need help to grow and expand your existing venture? Cumbria Growth Hub is a great place to start when it comes to specialist business advice, no matter what stage of the process you are at or what sector you are in. Best of all, a huge range of their activities are free or subsidised. 

Set up by its close partners, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce in 2012, the Growth Hub is considered the one-stop-shop for business support, bringing together a huge wealth of information into one place. Their online support ranges from reviews and diagnostics, action plans, 1-2-1 advice, networking, workshops, events and links to other business support initiatives. 

To date, the Growth Hub has worked directly with more than 6,800 businesses, around 2,000 benefiting from intensive assistance. This has created or safeguarded 6,285 jobs and generated an estimated £280 million GVA. 

For more information on their business support activities or just for a quick, informal chat, get in contact on 0844 257 8450 (call for free), email info@cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk or visit their website https://cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk/.

The Growth Hub works closely with all of Cumbria's district councils and will ensure that once your business is ready to get off the ground, any statutory or regulatory queries are passed on to us directly.

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