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.

Are you eligible for a government grant?

The council is administering two Government grant programmes to support certain small businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic.

The schemes provide eligible small businesses with a grant of up to £25,000 but to access the grant, businesses need to provide the Council with their details.

Businesses should first check whether they are eligible for a Small Business or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant. 

Local Authority Discretionary Grant

Update: June 2020

We have now paid out 2,697 grants, to the value of £37 million.

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.

Businesses will be given £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16 to 18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan. In addition, employers will receive £1,500 for every apprentice they employ aged 25 and over.

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. Additional information may be found on the Home Office website.

Restaurants and other establishments serving food for on premises consumption can now sign up to a new government initiative aimed at protecting jobs in the hospitality industry and encouraging people to safely return to dining out.

The eat out to help out registration page went live this morning on GOV.UK, allowing businesses to join the scheme announced last week by Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments who use the scheme will offer a 50% reduction, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to all diners who eat and/or drink-in throughout August.

Customers do not need a voucher as participating establishments will just remove the discount from their bill. Businesses simply reclaim the discounted amount through an online service, supported by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Claims can be made on a weekly basis and will be paid into bank accounts within five working days.

The scheme is open to eligible establishments across the UK and can be used all day, every Monday to Wednesday, between 3 and 31 August 2020.

Businesses will receive a window sticker to show they are using the scheme and can download promotional items from GOV.UK.

Who can register?

You can register for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme if your establishment:

  • sells food that is intended for consumption on the premises when purchased
  • provides its own dining area or shares a dining area with another establishment for eat-in meals
  • has registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July.  

How to register

Businesses can register to be part of the scheme online.

A searchable restaurant finder tool will be available to the public before the scheme launches on 3 August.

The scheme can be used by diners who order food and/or drinks for consumption on the premises. Alcohol is excluded from the offer.

Further information for businesses, including how to register and make a claim, is available online.

Additional information

  • Get more information about the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.
  • Find out how to register your establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.
  • The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is open to restaurants and establishments that sell food for consumption on the premises. Establishments can provide their own dining area, or share it with others that allow customers to dine-in. 
  • Tax agents cannot register or make claims on behalf of their clients. This will trigger a fraud alert and will result in delays in registering and claiming. Impacted clients will have to contact us separately to resolve.
  • The discount can be used unlimited times and will be valid Monday to Wednesday on any eat-in meal, including on non-alcoholic drinks, for the entire month of August 2020 across the UK.
  • Customers do not need a voucher. Registered businesses simply reduce the bill by the appropriate amount, and the offer can be used with other promotions and offers the business accepts. 
  • Guidance for food businesses can be found on GOV.UK.
  • Help available to businesses:
    • Guidance on how to register and make a claim is on GOV.UK
    • Free live webinars which will explain how the scheme works, provides examples and allows you to ask questions
    • YouTube video explaining how the scheme works
    • Webchat service
    • Dedicated helpline for restaurants [0300 322 9429] available 8am until 4pm Monday to Friday
    • Free downloadable promotional assets to help businesses promote the scheme
  • HMRC will check claims and take appropriate action to withhold or recover payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate.
  • Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter
  • HMRC’s Flickr channel
  • 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

  • If you are eligible for either of the following grants, then you will likely need to provide the Council with your details so that payment can be made. 
  • If your business premises is currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, grants of up to £10,000 are available.
  • If you are in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors, and you pay business rates on premises with a rateable value over £15,000 and under £51,000 – grants of up to £25,000 are available.
  • Check to see if you are eligible and provide the Council with your details.
  • If you do not meet the criteria for either of these grant schemes, then you may be eligible for a Discretionary Grant.
  • Check to see if you are eligible for a Discretionary Grant here

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

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.