Support for local businesses

With the Chancellor today announcing further measures to support businesses, Ross Playle, Deputy Chair of Witham Conservatives & Witham Northern’s Conservative candidate for Essex County Council, gives a run through of what help is out there for local companies. 

...Today the Chancellor announced that the unprecedented Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme would go live, a new billion pound support package for innovative firms would be launched and a  new ‘support finder’ for businesses introduced.

With it being such a fast-moving situation, I thought I would take the opportunity to give a brief recap on the support that is already available to businesses to help get our local economy through this challenging period. Whilst I know many of you will have already utilised the information and support that is out there, I also know that it can at times be hard to navigate through the vast number of webpages on GOV.UK and keep track of all the help that is out there.

Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Many of us will have come to learn of the term furloughing over the past few weeks and from today this Scheme goes live. This means employers will be able to claim for 80% of a furloughed employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and Pension contributions. Once a claim has been made HMRC aims to Bacs the claim amount into your bank account within 6 working days. For more information and to make a claim click here.


The Government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme looks at first glance similar to the CJRS where employers are furloughed. The Government has announced that it will pay self-employed people affected by coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

The scheme has been designed to ensure support reaches those self-employed who are most in need so will only be open to those with trading profits up to £50,000. HMRC will also ask people to demonstrate that the majority of their income comes from self-employment, and, to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, and who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.

The Treasury have not shied away from saying this has been a far more complex scheme to develop than the CJRS and as such they expect self-employed people to be able access the scheme by the beginning of June. Once live, self-employed people who are eligible will be contacted by HMRC directly, asked to fill out a simple online form, and HMRC will pay the grant directly into their bank account.

If you are in immediate need of help, Universal Credit might be a more appropriate option for you. You can find more information on UC and how to apply by clicking here.

Business rates

The Government has announced that all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will have a 12-month business rates holiday. This means that every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant, and any other business in these sectors will pay no business rates for a whole year. The Government has since announced that estate agents, letting agencies and children’s nurseries will also be exempt. This rates holiday is being applied to all eligible businesses automatically so no further action is required.

Business grants

In addition to the rates holiday, the Government is also providing businesses, with a rateable value of less than £51,000, in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector with an additional grant of up to £25,000.

Funds have been given to Braintree District Council to distribute to local eligible businesses and 2,557 grant applications have already been sent out to companies across the District. It is a real credit to the team at the Council who have worked incredibly quickly in difficult circumstances to turn round these applications and have already paid out £21.14million to 1,822 companies in our area. If you are unsure about your business’s eligibility or would like more information about this support contact Braintree Councils’s Economic Development team at

Small businesses

The Government is also providing grants to the smallest of businesses of £10,000. These are also being administered by Braintree District Council so if you think you might be eligible please do contact them on the above email.

Loan Schemes

The Government has introduced two types of Coronavirus Interruption Loan Scheme to provide support for companies both large and small.

The Government is offering loans of up to £5 million, interest free for 12 months, to small businesses. The Government has also banned lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000. For the full information and details on how to apply click here.

For larger companies, firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million. For the full information and details on how to apply click here.

Innovations Fund

Businesses and start-ups focused on driving innovation will benefit from a new tailored package of support. Support will be given to those business looking at research and development as well as in the field of technology. For more information click here with further details and eligibility criteria to be published in due course. 

Further support measures announced

  • Planning rules for pubs and restaurants - These rules have been temporally relaxed in order to allow kitchens to operate as hot food takeaways. I know many local foodies have already taken advantage of this opportunity and it has been fantastic to see the demand from residents wanting to support their local restaurants and pubs.
  • Deferring VAT - The Government has deferred the next three months of VAT tax for all businesses. This means that no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June, and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
  • Rent - If you are a commercial tenant worried about paying the rent because of coronavirus, the Government has introduced emergency legislation to ensure you will not be be evicted if you miss a payment in the next 3 months.
  • Statutory Sick Pay support - Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to claim the extra costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a result of coronavirus. For full eligibility and to claim click here.
  • Support finder - As I mentioned at the start, the Chancellor has today launched a new tool which helps businesses easily access the financial support they are eligible for during the coronavirus pandemic. A simple 1 minute questionnaire gives business owners information on what financial support they are entitled to. To use the Support Finder, click here.


If you have any questions on the above or anything else, you can contact me at Alternately, our local MP is supporting businesses across the constituency and taking up cases with colleagues at the Treasury. As ever, you can contact Priti at

Best wishes and stay safe,


Ross Playle

Deputy Chair of Witham Conservatives & Witham Northern’s Conservative candidate for Essex County Council 2021


Further reading and support:

Braintree District Council’s Business support team:

Essex Chambers of Commerce:

South East Local Enterprise Partnership:

Businesses Support Helpline (England) 0300 456 3565