Support & guidance for business

Useful links for support and guidance for businesses...

on Monday, 08 March 2021. Posted in Support & guidance for business

Last updated: Monday 8th March

Free rapid tests for all businesses for regular workplace testing

All businesses in England are now able to sign up for the government’s free COVID-19 workplace testing programme. More info here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): disposing of waste

Find out how to dispose of your personal or business waste, including face coverings, personal protective equipment (PPE) and lateral flow tests by clicking here.

BUDGET 2021: Protecting the jobs and livelihoods of the British people

This is a release from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, presented his Budget to Parliament on Wednesday 3 March 2021. The three-point plan to protect jobs and strengthen public finances announced:

  • billions to support businesses and families through the pandemic;

  • investment-led recovery as UK emerges from lockdown;

  • future changes to strengthen public finances.

    Measures announced in the Budget include:

  • An extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to September 2021 across the UK. Employers will be expected to pay 10% towards the hours their staff do not work in July, increasing to 20% in August and September, as the economy reopens.

  • An extension of the UK-wide Self Employment Income Support scheme to September 2021, with 600,000 more people who filed a tax return in 2019-20 now able to claim for the first time.

  • £5 billion for new Restart Grants – a one off cash grant of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England.

  • A new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme to make available loans between £25,001 and £10 million, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10 million, to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery.

  • Extension to the VAT cut to 5%, for hospitality, accommodation and attractions across the UK until the end of September, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022.

  • 750,000 eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will benefit from business rates relief to continue for three months to the end of June. For the nine months after, the rate will be 66 per cent.

  • An extension to the temporary cut in Stamp Duty Land Tax in England and Northern Ireland until September will support the housing market and protect and create jobs.

  • A new mortgage guarantee scheme will enable all UK homebuyers secure a mortgage up to £600,000 with a 5% deposit.

  • Extension of the apprenticeship hiring incentive in England to September 2021, and an increase of payment to £3,000.

  • £7 million for a new “flexi-job” apprenticeship programme in England, that will enable apprentices to work with a number of employers in one sector.

  • Additional £126 million for 40,000 more traineeships in England, funding high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds in 2021/22 academic year.

  • Small and medium-sized employers in the UK will continue to be able to reclaim up to two weeks of eligible Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs per employee from the Government.

  • To further support the cashflow of businesses, the government is extending the loss carry back rules worth up to £760,000 per company.

  • The rate of Corporation Tax will increase to 25%, which will remain the lowest rate in the G7. In order to support the recovery, the increase will not take effect until 2023. Businesses with profits of £50,000 or less, around 70% of actively trading companies, will continue to be taxed at 19%, and a taper above £50,000 will be introduced, so that only businesses with profits greater than £250,000 will be taxed at the full 25% rate.

  • Beginning April 2021, the new super-deduction capital allowance will cut companies’ tax bill by 25p for every pound they invest in new equipment.

  • Fuel duty and alcohol duties will be frozen.

  • Eight new English Freeports will be based in East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

  • The £375 million UK-wide ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’ will invest in highly innovative companies, such as those working in life sciences, quantum computing, or clean tech, that are aiming to raise at least £20 million of funding.

  • Reforms to the immigration system will help ambitious UK businesses attract the brightest and best international talent.

  • A new Help to Grow scheme, to offer up to 130,000 companies across the UK, a digital and management boost.

  • Build Back Better: our plan for growth sets out the Government’s plans to support growth through significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation, and to pursue growth that levels up every part of the UK, enables the transition to net zero, and supports our vision for Global Britain.

    All Budget 2021 documents can be found here.


Further detail on some aspects:

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of September 2021.

The UK Government will continue to pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, up to the end of June 2021.

For periods in July, CJRS grants will cover 70% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. In August and September, this will then reduce to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875.

Businesses will need to continue to pay their furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work during this time, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. This means, for periods between July and September, employers will need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grants. Businesses can also top up wages above the 80% if they wish, but are not required to do so.

Employers must continue to pay the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions on subsidised furlough pay from their own funds.

CJRS eligibility from May

For periods from 1 May 2021 onwards, employers will be able to claim for eligible employees who were employed and on PAYE payroll on 2 March 2021. This means employers must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying HMRC of earnings for that employee.

Employers and their employees do not need to have benefitted from the scheme before to make a claim, as long as the eligibility criteria are met.

For more information on the extension to the scheme and the support available, search 'Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.

Employers can now make February CJRS claims

Employers can now submit claims for periods in February. These must be made by Monday 15 March.

Claims can be made before, during or after payroll is processed. If possible, it’s best to make a claim once sure of the exact number of hours employees worked so claims do not have to amended later.

Employers can check if they and their employees are eligible, can and work out how much can be claimed using HMRC’s CJRS calculator and examples, by searching 'Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.


 What employers need to do now


  1. If employers haven’t submitted their claim for January but believe that they have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline of 15 February, employers should check if they can make a late claim by searching 'claim for wages' on GOV.UK.

  2. Submit any claims for February no later than Monday 15 March.

  3. Keep records that support the amount of CJRS grants claimed, in case HMRC need to check them.

VAT deferral

If businesses deferred VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, businesses should pay by 31 March 2021 if they can.

If businesses cannot afford to pay by 31 March this year, they can now use the online VAT deferral new payment scheme to spread the payment.

The new scheme lets businesses pay their deferred VAT in equal monthly instalments, interest free. They can spread payments across a number of months depending on when they join – the earlier businesses join, the more months businesses have to spread their payments across.

  • 11 instalments if joined by 19 March

  • 10 instalments if joined by 21 April

  • 9 instalments if joined by 19 May

  • 8 instalments if joined by 21 June.

    Businesses can join the scheme quickly and simply online without the need to call HMRC. To find out more information, including the things businesses need to do before joining, go to GOV.UK and search 'VAT deferred'.

    The online service will close on 21 June 2021 – if businesses want to join the scheme online, they must do so before this date.

    If businesses are on the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme or the VAT Payment on Account Scheme, they’ll be able to join the new payment scheme later in March. HMRC will share more information on this shortly and I will send this to you as soon as I can.

    If businesses have a Time to Pay arrangement already in place for their deferred VAT, they cannot use the online scheme. If they need to amend their Time to Pay arrangement, they should contact HMRC to do this.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing guidance for employers 

Guidance for employers and third-party healthcare providers on the regulations and legal obligations of running testing programmes. Click here for more.

Coronavirus grant funding: local authority payments to small and medium businesses

Local authorities have received and distributed funding to support small and medium businesses in England during coronavirus. Click here for more.

Business grants data published

Data published for grant schemes providing urgent support to business through national coronavirus restrictions. Click here for more. 

The Government has launched a programme helping employers to undertake mass testing of employees

The offer is now open to all businesses in all sectors. 

The following criteria apply:

-           Businesses with over 50 employees

-           Businesses registered in England only (for the time being) 

-           Only for employees that cannot work from home for the period of lockdown

The website for businesses to register their interest in asymptomatic testing of employees is now live. You can find it at this link:

Bounce Back Loan – new payment flexibilities 

Bounce Back Loan borrowers will now have the option to tailor payments according to their individual circumstances. Pay as You Grow repayment flexibilities now provide businesses with the following options to:

  • Extend the length of the loan from six years to ten
  • Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan
  • Pause repayments entirely for up to six months

The scheme is open to applications until 31 March 2021. Apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): letters to the manufacturing sector, November 2020 to January 2021

Letters from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to those in the manufacturing industry and its supply chain. Click here to read more. 

£4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs

£4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs including furniture retailers - Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the Chancellor has announced.

National Lockdown announced 

National lockdown rules apply in England. Stay at home. Find out what the rules are in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The law requires employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace and this has not changed during the pandemic.

Good ventilation, together with social distancing, keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing, can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

This guidance will help you identify poorly ventilated areas of your workplace and provides steps you can take to improve ventilation. It will apply in most workplaces.

Click here for more information.

Using power tools: avoiding the need for RPE during the pandemic

We explain the control measures employers should consider when dealing with shortages of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in our guidance on PPE supply issues.

Click here for more information.

Financial support is available for businesses in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3:  

Income Tax and National Insurance contributions exemption for employer-reimbursed coronavirus antigen tests: This measure aims to ensure that there is no National Insurance contributions liability where an employer reimburses an employee for the cost of a relevant coronavirus antigen test. This measure will have effect from 25 January 2021 until 5 April 2021. For more on the detailed proposal click here

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

  • If you have missed the claim deadline: Check the updated section on “If you have missed the claim deadline”. Employers must contact HMRC to ask about submitting a late claim.  

  • Calculate how much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough and how much you can claim back: Guidance has been updated with examples of when the calculator cannot be used, click here. You will need to work out what you can claim manually using the calculation guidance or by seeking professional advice from an accountant or tax adviser.  

Information about holiday pay and unpaid sabbatical or unpaid leave has been updated. Click here.  

Tier posters: Medium, High and Very High: Tier posters have been updated to reflect the latest information. To access the posters click here

UK's furlough scheme to be extended 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced today (17 December) that the UK's furlough scheme will be extended for an extra month until the end of April 2021. Under the furlough scheme, employees placed on leave receive 80% of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.  

Businesses will also be given until the end of March 2021 to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. These had been due to close at the end of January. This announcement comes ahead of the Budget, which the Chancellor has confirmed will take place on 3 March 2021. 

Further information can be found here.

Guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of coronavirus

This page has been updated with a section ‘Early outbreak management action card example’. Check updated information contained within the “action card” here

Statutory Sick Pay eligibility for those self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus

  • If your employee is sick or incapable of work, you must pay them a minimum of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), where they are eligible.  

  • If your employee is clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work because they have received a notification advising them to shield, you can furlough them under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if you are eligible to do so. As a minimum, you must pay them SSP, where they are eligible.   

  • You must pay SSP from the first day of your employee’s absence from work if they are self-isolating due to COVID-19. This could be because:   

    • They are displaying symptoms of, or have tested positive for, COVID-19   

    • Someone in their household (including linked or extended household) is displaying symptoms of, or has tested positive for COVID-19   

    • They have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.   

  • Your employee may be required to self-isolate multiple times. Each time they are required to self-isolate “provided all eligibility criteria are met” they must receive SSP for the duration of their absence.  

Small and medium employers can reclaim up to two weeks of SSP paid per employee for absences related to COVID-19

Furlough Update

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to 31 March 2021. Click here to read more. 

PM Commons statement on coronavirus: 2 November 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on coronavirus to the House of Commons. Click here to read. 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension

The grant is being extended from 1 November 2020. Find out if you're eligible and how much you can get. Click here to find out more. 

Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides financial support to larger businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). The application deadline has been extended to January 31 2021. Click here to find out more. 

Apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. The application deadline has been extended to January 31 2021. Click here to find out more.

Apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). The application deadline has been extended to January 31 2021. Click here to find out more.

Prime Minister announces new national restrictions

From Thursday, everyone must stay at home, with a limited set of exemptions. Click here. 

Information on the new national restrictions

Including what they mean for working from home and business closures, why they are being introduced and the financial support available. Click here.

Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Find out which employees you can put on furlough and claim for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Click here.

Furlough information

  • Calculate how much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough, how much you can claim for employer NICs and pension contributions and how much you can claim back: Click here.
  • Find out what steps you need to take before you calculate how much you can claim for furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees: Click here.
  • Claim for some of your employee’s wages if you have put them on furlough or flexible furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19): Click here.

Plan for Jobs: Chancellor increases financial support for businesses and workers 

The government has announced it will significantly increase the generosity and reach of its winter support schemes to ensure livelihoods and jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months to come, supporting jobs and helping to contain the virus.

You can find out more here. 

Help with kickstart scheme 

The kickstart scheme is designed for an employer to provide 30 or more jobs placements for young people. New guidance for organisations who want to be a Kickstart gateway and help employers apply for the Kickstart Scheme is available.

See the arrangement BFM has made to help members gain grants for taking on less than 30 placements.

Create a QR code

Small businesses should create and display an NHS Covid-19 QR code with a physical location that is open to the public. This service is only available in England and Wales. 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).

Click here for more information. 

Job Retention Bonus

  • Check if you can claim the Job Retention Bonus from 15 February 2021 here.

  • Find an example of employees and the minimum income threshold for the Job Retention Bonus here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

  • Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan including replacement of Furlough Scheme

Rishi Sunak unveils the Government’s plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months. You can read more here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing guidance for employers

Some employers may want to introduce their own internal testing programmes outside of the NHS Test and Trace service. This guidance will help them ensure that their testing programmes are as reliable and effective as possible.  Further details can be found here.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

  1. Updated guidance for the visitor economy on social gatherings of more than 6 people and Test and Trace (section 2.1) and mandatory test and trace requirements (section 2.2.2). Find out here how to make your workplace COVID-secure.
  2. Changes have been made to the “Working Safely” guidance, with the 5 steps to working safely section now withdrawn.

DVLA - Heavy vehicle test exemptions – October 2020 

Find out more here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed – 9 September 

Find out more here. 

Competition and Markets Authority – Cancellation and refund updates

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) remains of the view that a consumer will generally be entitled to a refund when they have paid money in advance for services or goods that cannot be provided because of the coronavirus pandemic. Given the evolving situation, the CMA has provided more detail on issues such as the difference between lockdown laws and government guidance, and their impact on cancellations and refunds. Further details are available here.

Reporting outbreaks of coronavirus – Action Cards

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has developed Action Cards, which reflect the latest advice on how to identify, manage and report a COVID-19 outbreak. The cards are designed as a useful visual checklist for businesses and bring together guidance and useful contacts to support your organisation’s planning. This will help businesses and other organisations work effectively with their local public health teams.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance has been updated with information on routine funding audits, redundancy and the use of face coverings. Find out more here.

Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds. Find out more here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers

The guide has been updated to reflect changes to the scheme from Tuesday 1 September. You can read it here. 

North West of England: local restrictions – what you can and cannot do

Click here for more.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel corridors

Click here for more. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel

Click here for more.

Code of practice for the commercial property sector

Click here to view the Government's code of practice to encourage commercial tenants and landlords to work together to protect viable businesses.

MOTs for lorries, buses and trailers

Click here to view the updated page to show that lorry, bus or trailer annual tests (MOTs) will restart from 4 July 2020 but vehicles in June, July and August will be issued 3-month exemptions. 

Heavy vehicle testing: vehicle test exemptions

Click here to view the table that's been published to confirm when vehicles with exemptions will be due for a test.

Check if you can claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Click here to find out if you’re eligible and how much you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave ('furlough') due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Find out more here. 

Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Click here to find out which employees you can put on furlough and claim for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Decide the length of your claim period, find out what to include when calculating wages and work out your employees’ usual and furloughed hours before you calculate how much you can claim.

Find out more here. 

Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Click here to calculate how much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough, how much you can claim for employer NICs and pension contributions and how much you can claim back.

Reporting employees' wages to HMRC when you've claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Click here to find out how and when to report employees' wages to HMRC using the PAYE Real Time Information system.

Find examples to help you calculate your employees' wages

You can check examples to help you calculate your employee's wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions if you're claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by clicking here. 

Deferral of VAT payments as a result of COVID-19

As part of the government’s support for businesses during COVID-19, HMRC gave businesses the option of deferring their VAT payments if they were unable to pay on time, without incurring late payment interest or penalties. Payment of VAT falling due between 20‌‌ March and 30‌‌ June 2020 can be deferred until 31‌‌ March 2021.

You must continue to file your VAT return on time, even if you defer payment.

Find out more here. 

Parents returning to work after extended leave eligible for furlough before and after 10 June cut-off date

People on paternity and maternity leave who return to work in the coming months will be eligible for the government’s furlough scheme, HM Treasury announced today (9 June).

Click here to read more. 

Procurement Policy Note 04/20: Recovery and Transition from COVID-19

Click here to read the information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during the coronavirus outbreak.

Health and medical surveillance during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to read the guidance for occupational health providers, appointed doctors and employers from the HSE. 

Time to warn your EU and other workers about issues with travelling outside of the UK

Companies are advised to warn their employees of the implications of travel abroad (and this includes any worker that decide to holiday outside of the UK).  Apart from goods vehicle drivers furniture workers would not generally be covered by the exemptions. See here for exemptions.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Click here to view the document that sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus: MOTs due from 30 March 2020

Your car, van or motorcycle’s MOT expiry date will be extended by 6 months if it’s due on or after 30 March 2020 – but you must keep your vehicle safe to drive. Click here to read more. 

Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for business

Click here to read the guidance on how OPSS is supporting businesses and local authorities and protecting consumers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

DVSA Clarification: Vehicle Test Exemptions

Heavy vehicles due for a test in June will receive a three-month exemption from needing an annual test. Find out more here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators

Click here to read the safer working principles and risk assessment for transport operators and organisations.

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Click here to find out what financial support you can get for your business, which has been updated to include the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund.

Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: all sectors carriage of goods by road

Click here to read the update on the temporary relaxations of EU and GB drivers’ hours rules.

Exemptions from Devices regulations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Click here to find out how to get fast-track approval of medical devices during COVID-19.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Click here to read the updated section 2.2 of the HTML guidance, which includes details on test and trace. The PDF will be updated as soon as possible.

Help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

Watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

Furloughed drivers and recording mobile working time

Click here to read the information for operators and furloughed drivers on EU mobile working time rules and EU and AETR drivers’ hours and tachograph rules.

Using PPE at work during the coronavirus outbreak

Health and safety law says that employers must protect workers from injury or harm to health which could happen as a result of work-related activity. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. Click here to read more. 

Hand sanitiser products and surface disinfectants during the coronavirus outbreak – use, manufacture and supply

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there is increased demand for hand sanitiser and surface disinfectant products.

HSE has guidance for employers who are providing hand sanitiser for their workers and others to use in their workplaces, and for existing and new manufacturers of hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants. The guidance about choosing hand sanitiser may also be useful to members of the public.

Click here to read more. 

Government launches NHS Test and Trace service

Click here to read the new guidance for those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

NHS test and trace: workplace guidance

Click here to read the new guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers.

Reopening High Streets Safely Fund guidance

Guidance to help local authorities and partners to deliver activities supported through the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund.

Click here for more. 

The online service you’ll use to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now available - 26th May

If you're an employer, find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Click here to find out more. 

You can also view the HMRC guidance here. 

Reallocating road space in response to COVID-19: statutory guidance for local authorities

Click here to read the guidance for local authorities on managing their road networks in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

New public health measures for all UK arrivals at the UK border

You can view the full press notice here

UK Government sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June

It will come as a surprise to many retail shops that are already open that the Government announced on Sunday, a roadmap for reopening a broader range of shops, including furniture stores from 15th June.  

Updated guidance for the retail sector has been published alongside this announcement, detailing the measures retailers should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards.  You can find the guidance here.

Thursday 28 May, 11am: Shops and branches
Free business webinar – find out how to make your retail workplace COVID-secure

Other webinars including for factories.

Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 - companies to contribute towards furlough wages

This amendment from the Chancellor includes a new direction that 'From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time whilst still receiving support from the scheme. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. Employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May'.

This is expected to be between 20-30 per cent of the cost of furlough.

Click here for more.

How the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will help business

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to relieve the burden on businesses during the coronavirus outbreak and allow them to focus all their efforts on continuing to operate.

National Audit Office (NAO)- Overview of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Click here to read the full report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to view HSE's guidance to help you work safely and manage the risk associated with running your business at this time.

Apprenticeship programme response

Click here to read the updated information on training and assessing apprentices in line with the Government’s new safer working guidelines, calculating wages for furloughed apprentices, off-the-job training, and redundant apprentices.

BFM members – supporting the national effort during the COVID-19 pandemic

We’ve put together a short video to showcase how BFM members have been supporting the national effort in the fight against COVID-19. Click here to view the video.

HM Treasury has today published details of an update to the terms of the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) 

The aim is to promote the ability of companies to repay their borrowings from the facility in an orderly way after the Scheme closes to new drawings in March 2021. Click here to read the update.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch

Employers will be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May. Click here to read more. 

The Coronavirus Future Fund

The Future Fund will provide UK Government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be open for applications from Wednesday 20 May 2020.
These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

The Future Fund was developed by the UK Government and is being delivered by the British Business Bank.

Business Support Helpline

The Business Support Helpline number in England has changed to FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098. The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes business advice on Covid-19.  

You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local growth hub or speak to an advisor on webchat about support for your business.

The Business Support Scotland helpline is 0300 303 0660, Business Wales helpline is 0330 060 300 and the Invest Northern Ireland helpline is 0800 181 4422.

Department for International Trade Webinars

The Department for International Trade are running a series of webinars to help businesses through coronavirus.

Logistics and movement of goods during COVID-19 - 20 May

Risk management when considering new markets - 21 May

Managing disruption of supply chains during COVID-19 – 22 May

Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak

Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella. Find out further information here.

HSE - Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to view the guidance for employers and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. It may also be useful to workers and their representatives.

Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee

Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen has announced. Click here to read more. 

New ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely

New ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely. Click here to view. 

Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today (Tuesday 12 May 2020). Click here to read more. 

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidelines

Click here to view the guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

All Party Furniture and Furnishing Group (APPFIG) Update

1. Please note that a report on the Inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on the furniture and furnishing industry will be issued soon.

2. COVID-19: Strategy - Debate in House of Commons - 11 May 2020 - Mike Wood MP & Chair of the APPIFIG took the opportunity of the Prime Minister’s appearance in the House of Commons yesterday to ask him a question about the Job Retention Scheme.  Please find the transcript of their exchange below.
Mike Wood (Con): Many businesses restarting operations are unlikely to have order books full enough to sustain a full workforce for months after the end of formal restrictions. Will the Prime Minister look at how job support can be tapered rather than being withdrawn overnight, and how more flexibility can be added, such as being able to re-furlough for a week at a time to reflect a firm’s workforce needs?
Boris Johnson (The Prime Minister): I think that the furloughing scheme has been one of the most remarkable features of the Government’s response. It is unlike anything seen internationally, with 6.5 million people currently being supported. It is absolutely right that we should do it. I do not want to anticipate what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor is going to say; the House will hear more about that tomorrow.

New guidance published to ensure transport network is safe for those who need to use it

Click here to read the latest guidance for safer travel and safer transport operations during the next phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators

Click here to view the safer working principles and risk assessment for transport operators and organisations.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): transport and travel guidance

Click here to read the latest information for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the coronavirus outbreak.

Staying safe outside your home

Click here to view the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.

Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces

The public has been advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Read more by clicking here. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and parents and other educational settings

Click here to read the guidance and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students.

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

Read the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy by clicking here

Staying safe outside your home

You can find the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible by clicking here.

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)

The most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives. Read about staying alert and safe here. 

PM address to the nation on coronavirus: 10 May 2020 - the way forward

Click here to watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest speech the nation on coronavirus.

£2 billion package to create a new era for cycling and walking

Alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, could relieve the pressure on public transport. Click here to read more. 

Reallocating road space in response to COVID-19: statutory guidance for local authorities

Click here to read the latest guidance for local authorities on managing their road networks in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

BFM survey shows most furniture manufacturers expect to start operations again this month

A BFM survey conducted last week shows that 68% of companies expect to start production by the end of May.  A further 27% expect June to be their start date.  There is an underlying assumption by many that measures will be introduced soon to ease current restrictions.

We understand that shortly government guidelines will be available on how to operate safely in business and these are being produced by a well-known consultancy.

Click here to access the survey.

Working Safely under Covid-19 guidelines for business

The Government are producing ‘Working Safely under Covid-19’ guidelines for businesses. We are in discussion with Government through BFC/BEIS and the purpose of these discussions is to solicit constructive feedback from a large group of businesses, their representative organisations and trade unions. 

Ernst Young are supporting BEIS to engage with Industry and other stakeholders to develop the Working Safely guidance. 

Please let us know your questions/issues as soon as possible - these guidelines will be issued shortly. You can do this by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BFM looking for case studies on your help during COVID-19 crisis

We are looking for case studies of ways our members have supported the national effort in the COVID-19 crisis. From manufacturing PPE, supporting community initiatives, through to supplying furniture for emergency facilities, we’d really like to hear more. In these unprecedented times, we hope we can shine a light on some of the ways the furniture industry is working behind the scenes to support the national effort.

Therefore, if your company has helped in any way, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any stories you have.

Bank of England support to BBLS

The Bank of England has announced changes to the Term Funding Scheme with additional incentives for SMEs (TFSME) and the UK leverage ratio, in order to support HM Treasury’s Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS).

HMRC advice & support

This guidance looks at measures to support your business during coronavirus disruptions and covers the business support helpline, HMRC Helpline, available webinars, Growth Hubs and the Find a Job service.

£6.1 million funding boost to help high streets and town centres through pandemic

Business Improvement Districts to receive funding in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Top-up to local business grant funds scheme

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): business support grant funding - guidance for businesses

For the latest updated guidance regarding tax, please click here

Treasury Direction made by the Chancellor under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020

It sets out that HMRC are responsible for the payment and management of amounts to be paid under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, as set out in the Schedule to the Direction.

27 April - Update on coronavirus loan scheme – Bounce Back Loans

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, has announced a new coronavirus loan scheme – Bounce Back Loans.

For this scheme, the Government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan.

The details are:

  • Businesses can apply for new Bounce Back Loans worth up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000, with the Government paying the interest for the first 12 months. 
  • The loans will be available from banks from 9.00am on Monday 4 May 2020.
  • There will be no-forward looking tests of business viability and no ‘complex eligibility criteria’.
  • Businesses will have to complete a ‘simple, quick, standard form’.
  • For most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.

You can find more information on the scheme here. 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – first payments now being made

Wages for furloughed employees are now being paid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - six working days after claims opened.

Read more here.

Launch of SME Coronavirus (COVID-19) Webinar Series

The Department for International Trade (DIT) in partnership with Newable, Enterprise Europe Network and J.P. Morgan, has launched an SME Coronavirus (COVID-19) Webinar Series.

Click here to register.

HMRC Employer Bulletin - April 2020

Click here to view HMRC’s April 2020 Employer Bulletin.

New measures to protect UK high street and other businesses from aggressive rent collection and closure

High street shops and other companies under strain will be protected from aggressive rent collection and asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.


You can find updated information on furloughed apprentices, end-point assessment, functional skills apprentices and qualification certification by clicking here.

Vital routes for supplies and people kept open through coronavirus support package

Vital routes for supplies and people have been protected through a coronavirus support package to keep the flow of goods and services running smoothly in and out of the UK, and around the country, throughout the pandemic. Read more here.

MHRA guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance for industry covering the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Update

HMRC - To be sure payment comes through to employers before the end of the month, applications need to be made today (Wednesday 22‌‌ April).

More information here.

HMRC Webinar on Job Retention Scheme

During this webinar, we’ll be taking a look at:

  • furloughed workers
  • who can apply for the scheme
  • following the rules of the scheme
  • how much may be claimed
  • how to claim and what you’ll need to claim.

Choose a date and time.

Business Support Finder Tool

Find coronavirus financial support for your business. Find out if you are eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants.  The business support finder tool is intended to make finding help easier for businesses.

The online tool may be found here.

For more details - see here.

Members are encouraged to write to their local MP asking for more support and guidance for our industry

To help with this, British Furniture Confederation (BFC) has put together a template letter

Support and guidance was sought in the following areas:

  • a 12-month rate holiday for the furniture and furnishings industry
  • guidance for manufacturers on furniture deliveries of bulky items to homes
  • to begin lifting restrictions on the closure of furniture retailers given that social distancing can be easily achieved in most outlets
  • keeping the Job Retention Scheme in place beyond 1st June - the Chancellor has subsequently extended the scheme to at least the end of June.

Find your local MP.

See BFC Letter to Chancellor.

Billion pound support package for innovative firms hit by coronavirus

Last night, the Chancellor announced that UK businesses that are driving innovation and development will be helped through the coronavirus outbreak with a £1.25 billion government support package. 

Key points:

  • Chancellor announces new £1.25 billion coronavirus package to protect firms driving innovation in the UK
  • Package includes a £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by the crisis, made up of funding from government and the private sector
  • SMEs focusing on research and development will also benefit from £750 million of grants and loans

Read more here

Claim for wages under Job Retention Scheme up and running from 20th April

The access point to make a wages claim is the HMRC Gateway.

You can find more information here

HMRC - new and updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Joint statements from the HSE

HSE has issued two joint statements with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI); and with the Partnership on Health and Safety in Scotland (PHASS). The statements concern the safety and there is an emphasis on social distancing.  For more Coronavirus (COVID-19) – HSE latest advice and information - see here.

Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19

This PP Note sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): early years and childcare closures

Guidance for local authorities, early years settings and childminders about childcare provision following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here.

Help to claim – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

HMRC have advised on how & when to claim back wage costs, read more here.

Treasury Direction sets out legal framework for Job Retention Scheme

The Chancellor has made a Treasury Direction under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. It sets out that HMRC are responsible for the payment and management of amounts to be paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as set out in the Schedule to the Direction.

The Direction sets out the legal framework for the Scheme.

Further guidance for employers and employees can be found here.

Government invitation to business to help with the response to the coronavirus, including:

  • protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications

To access the site: or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If the offer of assistance that you send in is something that is required to aid the response to COVID-19, then the co-ordinators – the Cabinet Office - will get in touch with you. 

Action from The British Standards Institution

BSI, the UK National Standards Body, has made a suite of risk and business continuity standards publicly available to help businesses navigate the challenges they face as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The standards available include: Continuity and Resilience, Risk Management, Community Resilience and Emergency Management

Use of facemasks in the workplace

The guidance for employees, employers and businesses has been updated with guidance on use of face masks in the community. The UK does not currently advise use of face masks outside of care settings, in line with PPE guidance. Therefore, PHE does not advise masks in public places and for those working in supermarkets, waste collection, schools and similar settings. PHE recommends that employers should ensure that:

  • spaces in the workplace are optimised to allow social distancing to occur, wherever possible
  • signs are visible in the workplace reminding employees not to attend work if they have a fever or cough and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

employees are provided with hand sanitiser for frequent use and regular breaks to allow them to wash their hands for 20 seconds.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks 

Advice for employers carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Guidance for businesses and workers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Guidance for employers

Guidance for employees

Rules and regulations relaxed to support businesses

The Government has relaxed some rules and regulations to help businesses handle any disruption they are experiencing due to coronavirus.

Pay it forward campaign - Supporting businesses through the coronavirus crisis

The Business Support campaign is working with Crowdfunder to build awareness about the support provided to small businesses through the Pay it Forward campaign. Small businesses can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign to pre-sell their services and diversify trading now to ensure continuous cash flow. Crowdfunder is covering all platform and transaction fees making it free to small businesses. Enterprise Nation is providing access to free training and support for business, to help with online sales, marketing, cashflow, and diversifying, if necessary. This campaign is nationwide and you can someone who is self-employed, a micro or small businesses can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign here.

Write to your MP and lobby for a rates holiday

The BFM has put together a template letter you can use to write to your MP asking for a rates holiday. On 25th March, the British Furniture Confederation (BFC) did just this by writing to the Chancellor asking him to urgently consider extending the 12-month Business Rates holiday for retail businesses, to furniture manufacturing businesses.  A reply has yet to be received.

The industry needs to apply as much pressure as possible to get the Chancellor's ear. Please find the template letter here together with a list of MP's with furniture companies in their constituencies and a tool to enable you to find your MP.

There are 38 'Growth Hubs' that can help businesses with advice at a local level.  Growth hubs are local public/private sector partnerships backed by the Government, led and governed by Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Chancellor strengthens support on offer for business

Guidance for businesses setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).

Useful Links

'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme', available on HMRC’s YouTube channel.

Acas has published new guidance on carrying over holiday as a result of coronavirus.

COVID –19 and National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage - special circumstances - pay advances and loans

Note the Job Retention Scheme states that - 'Individuals are only entitled to the National Living Wage (NLW)/National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the hours they are working. Therefore, furloughed workers, who are not working, must be paid the lower of 80% of their salary, or £2,500 even if, based on their usual working hours, this would be below NLW/NMW. However, if workers are required to for example, complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised'.

Guidance for industry on flexible approaches on good distribution practices.

Moving goods through customs during the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Customs authorisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate has released an open letter explaining how coronavirus will impact their enforcement approach. 

Government - COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses

Support for businesses  

Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19

DIT support for UK businesses trading internationally

Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments

Guidance for employers and businesses on COVID-19 poster

Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Relaxation of drivers’ hours rules

Driving tests and MOTs for heavy vehicles suspended for up to 3 months

Guidance for staff in the transport sector

HSE - Homeworkers advice

Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: delivery of essential items to consumers

Advice for the freight transport industry

Procurement Policy: Responding to COVID-19

Further businesses and premises to close

Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks

Coronavirus (COVID-19): business support grant funding - guidance for businesses

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to the manufacturing sector

Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to the retail sector

Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID-19): sector guidance

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19 - guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers