COVID-19 Business FAQs
Since March 2020, UK businesses have faced a number of pressures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
These FAQs aim to provide answers to some of the most pressing questions being asked by business owners, as well as directing you to useful sources of further information and support.
Topics covered include: what financial support is available and how businesses can help support their employees and keep them safe.
This information was last updated on 7 January 2022. Please keep checking for further updates.
1. What government support am I entitled to and how do I access it?
Many of the support schemes introduced at the height of the pandemic have closed, as the economy reopens. However, there are still a number of options for businesses looking for extra help to navigate the coming months, including new support measures announced in December 2021 as part of a £1 billion fund aimed at helping businesses affected by the rise in Covid cases due to the Omicron variant.
Grants for hospitality and leisure businesses
England: It was announced in December 2021 that hospitality and leisure businesses will be able to claim one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises. The grants will be administered by local authorities.
Wales: Retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business who pay non-domestic rates will be able to claim grants of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value. To receive their payments, businesses will need to re-register their details with their local authority. Registration will open the week commencing 10 January 2022.
Businesses in Wales can also apply for top-up funding via a new Economic Resilience Fund (ERF). Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 - £25,000. Applications will open in the week commencing 17 January 2022.
Wales has established a discretionary fund for business and sole traders who do not pay rates, providing £500 to sole traders and freelancers and £2,000 to employing businesses in impacted sectors.
Scotland: A December and January Top Up scheme has launched which will provide a one-off payment to support hospitality businesses affected by public health advice issued in December 2021. Payments will be made in January 2022.
Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund – Over £100 million of discretionary funding has been added to the ARG fund, for local authorities in England to help support businesses.
Culture Recovery Fund – In December 2021 it was announced a further £30 million is to be made available to English museums and other cultural organisations.
Recovery Loan Scheme – The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) launched on 6 April 2021 and supports access to finance for UK businesses as they recover and grow following the COVID-19 pandemic.
RLS aims to help businesses affected by COVID-19 and can be used for business purposes, including, managing cash flow, investment and growth. It is designed to support businesses that can afford to take out additional finance for these purposes. Businesses who have taken out a CBILS, CLBILS or BBLS facility are able to access the new scheme.
The Recovery Loan Scheme is designed to improve the terms on offer to your business. If we can offer you the choice of a commercial loan on better terms, without requiring the guarantee provided by the RLS, then we will do so.
At Autumn Budget 2021, the government announced that the Recovery Loan Scheme will be extended by six months to 30 June 2022, with changes applying to all offers made from the 1 January 2022.
- Borrow between £25,001 and £2 million (maximum amount per Group is limited to £6 million)
- Choose a repayment term between 1-6 years
- The scheme is available to businesses with an annual turnover of less than £45 million
- The scheme is supported by a 70% guarantee provided by the government to the bank
- There is no interest-free period or Business Interruption Payment (BIP) provided by the government
- Subject to full credit assessment. You remain 100% liable for repayment of the loan.
Bounce Back Loan Pay As You Grow – Applications for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme have now closed.
However, if you have previously taken out a Bounce Back Loan, before your first repayment is due, your lender will contact you about the option to:
- repay back some or all of your loan
- stick with your current payment arrangement
- provide additional support, including Pay As You Grow options or help to deal with financial difficulties.
Pay As You Grow options include:
- extending your loan term to 10 years
- moving to interest-only repayments for six months (you can do this up to 3 times)
- deferring repayments for six months (you can do this once).
Rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses – Businesses in these sectors in England qualify for a 66% discount on business rates until 31 March 2022, followed by a 50% reduction for the 2022-23 tax year, up to a cap of £110,000 per business.
In Wales, all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or below will receive 100% non-domestic rates relief in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and 50% relief for the duration of 2022-23.
See more about rates relief in Wales. (PDF, 453 KB)
In Scotland, retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2022, followed by a 50% discount between April and June 2022, capped at a maximum of £27,500 per ratepayer.
See more about rates relief in Scotland.
In Northern Ireland, businesses in the hospitality, tourism and leisure, retail (excluding certain supermarkets and off-licences), manufacturing and childcare sectors don’t have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years.
See more about rates relief in Northern Ireland.
VAT cuts for hospitality sector - VAT for the hospitality and tourism sectors has been discounted to 12.5% until 31 March 2022. The standard 20% rate will be reinstated on 1 April 2022. The VAT cut and discount applies to:
- food and non-alcoholic beverages sold for on-premises consumption
- hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic beverages
- sleeping accommodation in hotels, holiday accommodation, pitch fees for caravans and tents, and associated facilities
- admission to various attractions, including theatres, circuses, fairs, amusement parks, museums, zoos, cinemas, concerts and exhibitions.
2. What financial help and support is available for the self-employed?
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) provided five possible grants to help support self-employed individuals struggling due to coronavirus.
Applications for all the grants are now closed.
If you claimed a SEISS grant payment, you must report it on your tax return.
See guidance for reporting SEISS grants.
3. What support is available for commercial renters?
Support measures mean that commercial tenants who are struggling to pay their rent due to COVID-19 will be protected from eviction.
The measures, which prevent tenants who have had to remain closed during the pandemic from being evicted due to missing a payment, currently last until at least 25 March 2022.
However, the government has emphasised that businesses who are able to pay rent, must do so. Tenants should start paying their rent as soon as they are legally able to open.
Under the legislation, tenants and landlords are expected to work together to come to an agreement regarding any money owed – this could involve waiving some of the total amount or agreeing a longer-term repayment plan.
4. Due to COVID-19 many of my customers are late paying their invoices and it’s causing me cash flow issues. What can I do?
If you’re a small business, with under 50 staff, the office of the Small Business Commissioner can offer help and advice on late payments.
Take a look at the Small Business Commissioner website for more information or give them a call on 0121 695 7770.
Larger businesses will need to pursue any debt recovery through the courts.
If late payments are impacting your cash flow, we offer a number of solutions which could help, including Invoice Finance.
Speak to one of our specialists on 0800 169 4356 or get in touch with your Relationship Manager or Relationship Management Team to see how we can help support you.
5. What help and support is there for businesses trading internationally?
If your business exports or delivers goods and services abroad and has been impacted by COVID-19, or is struggling with supply chain issues, the Department for International Trade is able to support you in a number of ways, including:
- providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of goods
- offering advice on intellectual property and business continuity
- finding alternative suppliers.
In addition, our Invoice Finance solutions can be offered on both domestic and export debt with a wide range of currencies available. For more information please call one of our specialists on 0800 169 4356.
Find out more about Invoice Finance solutions.
1. Can I still make a claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) closed on 30 September 2021 and the deadline for final claims was 14 October 2021.
However, HMRC may accept late claims or amendments in certain circumstances.
See government guidance on making late CJRS claims.
2. Can I pay back grants claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
You can pay back some or all of your grant if you have overclaimed, you no longer need the grant, or you’d like to make a voluntary repayment.
See guidance on repaying CJRS grants.
1. When should my employees self-isolate?
Self-isolation guidance varies between the UK nations.
2. Can employees work if they are self-isolating?
If employees are able to work from home and aren’t feeling ill themselves, they should be able to work while self-isolating.
If they aren’t feeling able to work, they can call in sick following your usual procedures.
3. Are employees entitled to sick pay while self-isolating?
Employees who follow advice to stay at home will be paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are unable to work, even if they are not ill themselves. For example, if they aren’t double vaccinated and have to self-isolate due to a family member testing positive.
There is no need to pay SSP if employees are self-isolating due to travelling to another country for recreational travel.
Under the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, employers with fewer than 250 employees may be able to claim back the current rate of SSP for employees who have coronavirus or cannot work as they are self-isolating. The scheme will be reintroduced in January 2022.
1. What steps can I take to help keep my employees safe?
The government has issued a number of guides to help businesses reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading.
The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have issued their own guidance.
2. If employees are working from home, do I have to provide them with appropriate equipment and pay for their utilities?
If staff have agreed to work from home voluntarily, or chosen to work from home, there is no need to make a contribution towards their utility bills.
If they are working from home involuntarily, employees could claim up to £6 a week tax relief to cover any additional costs they are incurring. They can’t claim for things that are for both private and business use, for example broadband, but can claim for things related to work, for example business telephone calls or extra gas and electricity costs.
This amount can be covered by employers as a tax-free allowance, or claimed as tax relief via HMRC.
All lending is subject to status.
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Important legal information
Lloyds Bank is a trading name of Lloyds Bank plc, Bank of Scotland plc, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc and Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH.
Lloyds Bank plc. Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065. Bank of Scotland plc. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Registered in Scotland no. SC327000. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Registered office 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 10399850. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 119278, 169628 and 763256 respectively.
Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH has its registered office at Thurn-und-Taxis Platz 6, 60313 Frankfurt, Germany. The company is registered with the Amtsgericht Frankfurt am Main, HRB 111650. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is supervised by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht.
Eligible deposits with us are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). We are covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Please note that due to FSCS and FOS eligibility criteria not all business customers will be covered.
While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information provided is correct, no liability is accepted by Lloyds Bank for any loss or damage caused to any person relying on any statement or omission. This is for information only and should not be relied upon as offering advice for any set of circumstances. Specific advice should always be sought in each instance.