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. Please click here for the latest general Council information with more information specifically for businesses below.


The council now has the funds and guidance necessary to distribute £54 million of grants to support certain small businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The scheme provides eligible small businesses with a grant of up to £25,000 but to access the grant, businesses may need to provide the council with payment information. To claim a grant you are eligible for, click here.

Guide to Coronavirus response, business and self-employment support

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers finance to smaller businesses that are viable but unable to obtain finance due to insufficient security to meet the lender’s normal requirements.
  • If your business premises is eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, grants of up to £10,000 are being made available. The Council will write to you if you are eligible for this grant.
  • 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.
  • Value added Tax (VAT) 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 3 months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. More here
  • Advice for businesses that trade internationally has been published by the Department for International Trade.

These measures are is in place for shops, cinemas, restaurants, museums, art galleries, theatres, gyms, small hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest houses, sports clubs, night clubs, drinking establishments, club houses, live music venues, estate agents, letting agents, bingo halls and opticians.

  • All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will be exempt from business rates for the next twelve months. The Council is issuing adjusted bills to eligible businesses.
  • If your business premises is currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, grants of up to £10,000 are being made available. This could benefit up to 2,600 Waltham Forest businesses.
  • If you pay business rates on premises with a rateable value between £15,000 - £51,000, grants of up to £25,000 are being made available. This could benefit up to 1,000 Waltham Forest businesses.
  • The Council will write to you if you are eligible for these grants.
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme  provides a package of support for the self-employed. Those eligible will have access to grant based on 80% of average historical annual profits, up to £2,500 per month.
  • 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.
  • 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.

If you employ people Click to get info

  • Through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue to pay part of the salaries of employees that are laid off because of the crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of these worker’s wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, backdated to 1 March 2020.
  • All UK employers will be able to access support to Statutory Sick Pay will be available to all who are advised to self-isolate from COVID-19 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 government intend to legislate so this measure applies 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.
  • Employment allowance to increase by £1,000 allowing certain businesses who employ staff to reduce their National Insurance bill by £4,000.
  • 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.


  • Nursery businesses will benefit from a business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
  • The Council will identify eligible businesses and automatically apply all new reliefs and issue adjusted bills.
  • The government has announced new protections for commercial tenants who are not able to pay their rent during the next three months, as a result of COVID-19. New legislation, explained here, is part of the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament.
  • Network Rail is cancelling all first quarter (25 March to 23 June 2020) rent payments due from tenants in their commercial estate portfolio, providing significant relief for small businesses. More information.
  • All small and medium businesses on TfL's estate, which make up 86% of tenants, to get 100% rent relief. This will start from start from 25 March for next three months. More information.

Other advice and support Click to get info

We have also collected a range of online resources from organisations offering businesses support, that you may find helpful. Visit this page for details.

As part of government measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, certain businesses have been instructed to close. A list of these businesses can be found here. For retailers and other businesses allowed to remain open, advice on preventing the spread of Covid-19 can be found here

If you have enquiries or concerns not answered by the information provided above, please fill out this form and we will aim to respond to you within 3 working days.

You can also stay updated with latest information on support for businesses and the self-employed by signing up for council electronic newsletters, here, or by following us on twitter