The latest updates and information on how to protect your business
We know there are huge concerns regarding the potential impact of Coronavirus and we’re doing all we can to support the business community through these challenging times. We’ve suspended our events programme and will review this in due course.
Alternatively, please call the team on 01202 714800.
We are receiving high volumes of enquiries and we will respond to you as quickly as possible.
Please scroll down to access advice and support on coronavirus, including Government financial support.
Coronavirus Business Support Email
Subscribe to our regular email with the latest business support, including Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the latest local business news.
Reopening your Business
First of all check your business or venue is permitted to reopen. There are legal responsibilities you have as a business to protect employees and customers. Access the Government tool to carry out a risk assessment.
Organisations in certain sectors should collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors on their premises to support NHS Test and Trace.
Download the notice to display at your premises showing you’ve made the workplace COVID-secure.
Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Guidance has been produced to help you work safely (be COVID-secure) and manage the risk associated with running your business at this time. More details here.
Government publishes guidance for employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely.
This guidance will assist employers, businesses and their staff in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19). This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation so please refer back to this page for updates.
This includes guidance on if you have symptoms, sick pay, furloughed (laid off) workers, benefits and rent payments. This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation so please refer back to this page for updates. See here for holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus.
Use this tool to find out if you should go back to work during this phase of coronavirus lockdown, and what you can do if you should not be going into work.
The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, full details are on the Government guidance, and on the Government Business Support website, which are both being continually updated.
This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (further info for individuals and businesses). Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages here and see a step by step guide for employers on claiming here. The scheme has been extended to the end of October with the option for phased returns to work from July, full details here.
- deferring VAT and Income Tax payments, see here (this scheme ended 30 June but please review for info on paying the deferred tax).
- Self-employment Income Support Scheme (further info and how to apply here and here). On 29 May it was announced the scheme has been extended for eligible applicants to claim a second grant in August worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits and capped at £6,570 in total, details here.
- Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) launched 26 May, more details and how to apply here.
- *12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England. Details of which businesses qualify here.
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief (application for Dorset businesses and BCP businesses).
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 (application for Dorset businesses and BCP businesses).
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Check what support you may be eligible for here.
If you’re a VAT registered business, check if you can temporarily reduce the rate of VAT on supplies relating to hospitality, accommodation, or admission to certain attractions.
If you’re a restaurant/dining establishment register for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.
Sustainable Innovation Fund: Almost £200 million boost to help businesses across the UK drive forward cutting-edge new tech; research and development (R&D) intensive businesses urged to apply for funding to turn ingenious ideas into new technologies.
Bounce Back Loans: 100% Government backed loans for small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 interest free for the first 12 months, at an interest rate of 2.5% chargeable from month 13. This is now live for applications and more information on how to apply has now been published.
Coronavirus Future Fund launching 20 May 2020: this will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Local Loans/Funding in Dorset
Dorset Council Grants
For the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant, Dorset Council requires you to complete a business information gathering form to help them ensure the right grants are paid to the right businesses and to validate the information needed to process the grants. Please visit their website to check your eligibility and complete the form.
BCP Council Grants
BCP Council has uploaded grant fund forms for the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Fund. Please visit their website to check your eligibility and download, complete and return the form to BCP Council.
Crowdfund Dorset Business: Dorset LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) is offering existing micro and small businesses the opportunity to receive grant funding to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is aimed at businesses that can demonstrate how, with support of the funding, they’ll deliver direct economic benefit within the Dorset area.
Business Support from HM Government has produced this FAQ guide on support available.
As a Chamber we are seeing additional FAQs so have outlined these and some answers, linking to credible sources of further information. We fully appreciate the support does not currently cover everyone therefore we are collating examples of such gaps and sharing with the British Chambers of Commerce who are lobbying Government. If you fall into such a gap, please contact us by completing the Dorset Gateway Business Support Form at the top of this page.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
I’m a director who takes a small salary and the rest as dividends, is there any support available for me?
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies but is only applicable to your salary that is subject to PAYE and NI. However, furlough requires the individual not to work during this period of absence. Where directors have particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company. Full details here.
I pay rent to a landlord so I’m not directly paying business rates. Am I eligible for business rate relief?
- The person who pays the rates would likely receive the grant so this is something to get in touch with your landlord about. The Government advice (Business Support Grant FAQs – section 31/32) states “In these cases we encourage landlords to support local government in ensuring the grant reaches eligible ratepayers.”
This is my first year of trading, how does this impact my ability to claim support?
- You must have submitted your Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019 (you must do this by 23 April 2020 or you will not be able to claim) and traded in the year 2019 to 2020. If you have not submitted Self Assessment tax returns for all 3 years find out how your eligibility is worked out here. Full details on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme here.
I joined/employee joined company after 28 Feb so I’m not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. What are my options?
- This has just been amended to 19 March, whereby your payroll details must have been submitted by your employer to HMRC by this date; full details here
I was made redundant because as my employer had to let people go. What are my options?
- This same employer can re-employ you, put you on furlough and claim for your wages here
I’m self-employed and want to claim a grant under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, but can I carry out any work while on this? And other questions about SEISS
- Yes, you can continue working or take on additional work. Full details here
Our B&B business doesn’t occupy more than 50% of the house so we don’t have a business account. Can we still claim for the grants?
- This is an example we’ve seen where upon contacting the Council, the business owners don’t seem to be eligible for support. We recommend discussing with your local rates office. We are also sharing such examples with the British Chamber of Commerce.
As of 28 May 2020, the NHS Test and Trace service is live. New guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms. More details on how it works here.
Essential workers who are self-isolating can directly apply for a coronavirus test. Their household can also be tested.
Once approved for testing, you can book a coronavirus test. If the test is negative, as an essential worker you can return to work.
Public bodies, organisations and charities have produced additional resources that may be useful to employers and employees.
The Government has shared details of their recovery strategy, including:
- Full details details of the recovery strategy
- Staying alert and safe (social distancing)
- Staying safe outside
- What you can and can’t do
In England, you must by law wear a face covering in the following settings:
- Public Transport
- Shops and Supermarkets as of 24 July 2020
Seasonal Farm Work Opportunities
Pick for Britain is a site for those looking for opportunities and those who have jobs available to advertise.
Association of Labour Providers has a range of links to sites advertising seasonal work.
Money Advice Service: Coronavirus and your Money
Advice on if you need to take time off work or face a drop in income, including a step by step checklist and other considerations relating to coronavirus.
Money Advice Service: Coronavirus – what it means for you and what you’re entitled to
This guide looks at your rights and what benefits you’re eligible for.
Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19)
During this time, you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it. This guide provides advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The British Chambers of Commerce outlines the need to prepare for the impacts of Coronavirus/COVID-19 transmission
The British Chambers of Commerce has outlined steps that Chambers and members can implement to minimise impact on local communities and support the UK government’s strategy. Their dedicated web page is based on official guidance and will be updated as and when updates are released.
Coronavirus, Contingency Planning, Processing Coronavirus Data And GDPR
As part of your business continuity management, you may be considering staff working from home. This may pose some challenges regarding GDPR implications, however, this can be overcome by taking advice from experts and careful preparation. Please refer to this article by Mark Gracey, from Digital Compliance Hub, for some free guidance, checklists of things you should consider to implement, an information sheet you can download and share around your business about working from home, and also considerations if you’re processing Coronavirus related data.
Mark is also offering some free advice for local businesses and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Resilience Service
In response to the developing economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, Dorset Business Mentors have launched a new service to help Dorset’s small businesses with immediate and ongoing support through an unprecedented period of uncertainty. Up to 3 months free of charge.
Our unique proposition offers business owners confidential mentoring and ongoing personal support provided by a team of over 120 highly experienced, volunteer business professionals with a strong reputation for working with small businesses.
The service will provide business assessment of critical priorities including: Financial, Staff, Suppliers and Turnover implications; and match a mentor who will calmly guide a strategic response, offering an invaluable and experienced sounding board for the main Director’s decision making, and who will support well-being during a time when many individuals may feel isolated and under pressure.
Following the Quarterly Economic Survey results for Q2 2020, we have a breakdown of responses from Dorset businesses
British Chambers of Commerce President, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister setting out principles for a phased restart of the UK economy.
The leading business group set out its integrated approach, the first step in a three-stage process, as the government prepares to ease initial lockdown restrictions.
Chambers of Commerce in Dorset urge Government to move quickly
Ian Girling, Dorset Chamber Chief Exec, has written to Boris Johnson regarding support for businesses during the COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak.