Coronavirus (COVID-19) : advice to businesses and the self-employed



The situation with Covid-19 is changing by the day and we are aware that business owners in Waltham Forest are concerned for their employees, customers and businesses.

Across the Council, we are taking every step necessary to plan for what might come. Find more information on the council's response to COVID-19 crisis, with more information specifically for businesses below.


A service has been established where you can create a QR code for display in your venue. Get visitors to scan the QR code when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app. This is to help trace and stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should create and display a QR code if you are a business, place of worship or community organisation with a physical location that is open to the public, or if you are hosting an event which is taking place in a physical location. If you have more than one venue, you will need to create a separate QR code for each location.

You’ll receive your QR code poster by email soon after you have submitted your information. If you have more than one location, the manager (or point of contact) for each location will also receive a unique QR code poster by email.

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website

The new NHS COVID-19 app has been launched. It's the fastest way of knowing when you're at risk from coronavirus (COVID-19). The quicker you know, the quicker you can alert your loved ones, and your community. The more of us that use it, the better we can control coronavirus. It is an important part of the national programme.

For more information on how to use and download the app, you can visit the NHS.UK website

Job retention bonus Click to get info

Employers will be able to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee they have previously received a grant for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021.

To be eligible, the employee must have received earnings in November, December and January, and must have been paid an average of at least £520 per month, and a total of at least £1,560 across the three months.

As the employer, you will be able to claim the bonus after you have filed PAYE information for January 2021, and the bonus will be paid from February 2021. More detailed guidance, including how you can claim the bonus online, will be available by the end of September.

What you need to do now

If you intend to claim the Job Retention Bonus you must:

  • ensure all your employee records are up to date
  • accurately report employees’ details and wages on the Full Payment Submission (FPS) through the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting system
  • make sure all of your CJRS claims have been accurately submitted and you have told us about any changes needed (for example if you’ve received too much or too little)

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.

Incentive payments

The Home Office is introducing payments to support organisations that take on new apprentices between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021. You can apply for the payment from 1 September 2020, after you add new apprentices to your apprenticeship service account.

The payment is in addition to the existing £1,000 you’ll already get for taking on an apprentice who is aged 16 to 18 years old, or under 25 and has an education, health and care plan or has been in the care of their local authority.

Employers will receive £2,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 24, and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over. You’ll get the payment in 2 equal instalments: 50% after the apprentice completes 90 days of their apprenticeship and the remaining 50% after 365 days. To get the full payment, the apprenticeship must last for at least one year.

For more information, please visit the GOV.UK website

The Kickstart Scheme

You can use the Kickstart Scheme to create new 6 month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

The job placements should support the participants to develop the skills and experience they need to find work after completing the scheme.

Funding is available for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.

Funding is available following a successful application process. Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. If you are unable to offer this many job placements, you can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number.

For more information, please visit the GOV.UK website

Get help from us

We offer a free consultation to levy paying employers on how they can benefit from apprenticeships, financial incentives available and advise on the best type of apprenticeship training for their company. We are very happy to engage with employer/business who would like to know more about apprenticeships.

Our Apprenticeships Team may be contact on and we will respond within 24 hrs.

  • For businesses not required to remain closed the Government has produced guidelines.
  • In the first instance, employers should make every effort to support working from home. This will apply to many different types of businesses, particularly those who typically would have worked in offices or online.
  • Where work can only be done in the workplace, tailored guidelines for employers are being provided to help businesses get COVID-secure and back up and running.
  • Advice on working safely during COVID-19 is also available from the HSE and advice on cleaning your workplace safely.
  • The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has advice for businesses on dealing with a range of employment issues including staff absence, homeworking, staff presenting symptoms, closing premises and staff lay-offs.

More information and advice on reopening after lockdown

Support finder tool Click to get info

  • The government has launched a search tool for businesses and the self-employed to understand what support is available to them, based on their circumstances.
  • The tool asks a series of straight forward questions to provide a summary of coronavirus financial support for your business.

Government grants Click to get info

The application window for Government business grants being administered by the council closed on Friday 28 August and we are unable to accept any new applications.

If you have questions about an application already submitted for one of the three grants listed below, and it is at least 15 working days since your application was made, please contact us through this online form, providing business and address details. We aim to respond to you within three working days.

  • Small Business Grant
  • Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • Discretionary Grant 

Business rate relief Click to get info

  • All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will be exempt from business rates for the 2020-21 year.
  • Nursery businesses will benefit from a business rates holiday for the 2020-21 year.
  • Eligible businesses have had these new reliefs automatically applied and new bills sent.
  • If you have not been notified and think you are eligible please apply online.

Help paying staff Click to get info

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will reimburse 80% of employee wage costs, while they are furloughed, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC has produced a step-by-step guide for employers looking to make a claim.

Business loans Click to get info

  • The Self-employment Income Support Scheme allowed you to claim a first taxable grant. Applications for the first grant closed. The second and final taxable grant is worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. Applications for the second and final grant are now open. Make your claim from the date we give you. If you’re eligible and your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020, you must make your claim for the second grant on or before 19 October 2020.
  • The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund provides entrepreneurs aged 18-30 with grants to maintain their business during the crisis.
  • If you are a ‘gig-economy’ or zero hours contract worker you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Check your eligibility.
  • If you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be eligible for benefits such as the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit.
  • Please contact Jobcentre Plus for claims for either Universal Credit or ESA.

Taxes Click to get info

  • A new helpline (0800 015 9559) to the HMRC's Time to Pay service is open, so businesses and the self-employed can arrange to defer tax payments.
  • Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
  • Value added Tax payments are going to be deferred for three months. The deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 and businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period.
  • Businesses will be given an additional three months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.

Commercial property Click to get info

Sick pay Click to get info

  • UK employers can access Statutory Sick Pay for all employees advised to self-isolate or are caring for someone else who has, provided the employees earnings are over £118/week.
  • Rules around GP sick notes have also been relaxed and a notification can be obtained from NHS 111 Online.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day one, instead of day four, and can be applied retrospectively from 13 March 2020.
  • The government will refund the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for up to 14 days to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has advice for businesses on dealing with a range of employment issues including staff absence, homeworking, staff presenting symptoms, closing premises and staff lay-offs.
  • London Growth Hub factsheets, business checklist and one-to-one advice.
  • Online resources from a range of other organisations.
  • The government has launched a search tool for businesses and the self-employed to understand what support is available to them, based on their circumstances.
  • Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations are providing coronavirus related support for specific sectors.

We have commissioned national organisation to provide a range of free, personalised, hands-on support for independent high street businesses, market traders and local community champions in Waltham Forest.

Together, we will be helping high streets to reopen successfully, recover quickly, and build resilience through the next phase of the Covid-19 crisis.

To get involved for free and to find out more information, please visit our Save The High Street webpage.