Financial support for businesses

This information was last checked on 22 May 2020.

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The Government had announced a new discretionary fund for certain small businesses in England previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

Financial support from Government

The Government's ‘support finder’ tool helps businesses and self-employed people to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the Coronavirus pandemic.

They have also created a Business Support Hub which brings together information and guidance on the range of finance and support available to businesses.

If you can’t find the information that you need from the published information, advice and guidance, you can speak directly to an adviser on the Government's Business Support Helpline call FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098.

Financial measures to support businesses through the economic uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus (COVID 19): 

Discretionary fund

The Government had announced a new discretionary fund for certain small businesses in England previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme (see Existing Business Grants section below). This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.

Further guidance on the new fund has now been published. We are currently working to establish the eligibility criteria for the grants and to develop processes for distributing them. Please keep an eye on future issues of our newsletter and on our website for more information. To register your interest in the upcoming discretionary grant scheme, please email

Financial assistance for employers unable to pay statutory redundancy payments

If as an employer you cannot afford to pay your employees redundancy pay, you can apply to the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) (part of a government agency called the Insolvency Service) for financial assistance. If approved, the RPS will make statutory redundancy payments directly to the redundant employees on your behalf.

The Government has issued guidance to help employers understand whether the scheme is right for them.

PPE VAT free for three months

From 1 May 2020, PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against COVID-19 is free from VAT for a three-month period until 31 July 2020.

Other potential financial support

COVID-19 Micro Capital Grant Scheme

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have launched their COVID-19 Micro Capital Grant Scheme. Eligible applicants are sole traders, partnerships and employers employing no more than 5 FTE employees in the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority area. The maximum grant request is £5,000.

The Grant can only be applied to the outright purchase of capital equipment, this can be equipment you have already purchased between January 2020 and April 2020. They cannot accept applications for equipment that will be purchased using Hire Purchase, Lease Purchase or any type of Credit Sale.

Loans for small businesses

Small firms who have been in business for less than two years and who are unable to secure finance from other sources could be eligible for a Start-up Loan, a government-backed personal loan available to individuals looking to start or grow a business in the UK.

In addition to finance, successful applicants receive 12-months of free mentoring and exclusive business offers to help them succeed. The loan is unsecured, so there’s no need to put forward any assets or guarantors to support an application. All owners or partners in a business can individually apply for up to £25,000 each, with a maximum of £100,000 available per business.

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund

The £5 million Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business. In conjunction with cash grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future. Find out more on their website.

Improving broadband connectivity

Rural Gigabit Vouchers are available for new applications until 31 March 2021 (or until funding runs out). Gigabit broadband vouchers help eligible homes and businesses in rural areas install a full fibre connection to their premises as part of a group project.

Gigabit-capable means that the connection can handle speeds of 1,000 megabits per second but users only sign up to speeds they can afford. 

Find out about Rural Gigabit Vouchers and to check if you are eligible for a Rural Gigabit Voucher using the postcode checker.

Sector-specific support

A 12-month business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Council has now applied business rates holidays for eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality, leisure sectors. If you think you should qualify for the relief, please email and we will look into your situation individually.

Business rate reliefs for nursery businesses

South Cambridgeshire District Council has now applied business rates holiday for nurseries to all eligible premises. Properties that benefit from the relief are those occupied by providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Community pharmacies

On 2 April 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that £300 million in funding has been announced to ensure community pharmacies can continue to carry out essential services during the coronavirus outbreak.

Waste sector

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Fund (WEEE Fund) has announced its “WEEE Support Grants and Loans Package” to help support the electrical waste reuse and recycling sector as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.  

The package will help support the continuation of the UK WEEE reuse and recycling system as the sector deals with the impact of the coronavirus.  The funding will provide £5 million of interest free loans to electrical waste treatment facilities and £0.6 million of grants to charity sector reuse organisations.

Applications for the loans are open from until end May 2020. Loans are available to all registered commercial AATFs based on the evidence they issued for the treatment they undertook in 2019. The application process for the grants will be confirmed shortly.


England’s dairy farmers will be able to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The new funding from Government will help support dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have had to close.

Eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible to access this funding for those qualifying months, with no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support or on the total funding available.

Zoos and aquariums

Licensed zoos or aquariums in England that are experiencing severe financial difficulties because of lost revenue, can apply for a grant from Government of up to £100,000.

The amount of money organisations will receive will be based on their animals’ needs. Grants can be used to cover animal-care costs that cannot be lowered such as:

  • keepers’ wages
  • animal feed and bedding
  • veterinary care and medicines
  • electricity and heating
  • waste removal

If Defra approves an application, payments will be made over a maximum of 3 months.

The fund is:

  • not a guarantee to save every zoo and aquarium business or job
  • intended for smaller zoos at immediate risk
  • in place to protect the welfare of animals living on site or by rehoming

Heritage Sector

Heritage Lottery Emergency Fund

The Heritage Lottery Emergency Fund is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.

Funding of between £3,000 and £50,000 (from 15 May) or £50,000 to £250,000 (from 21 May) is available. You can find out more about who can apply, how they will prioritise applications and what they will fund on Heritage Lottery Fund’s website. Organisations will be able to apply until 30 June 2020.

Cultural sector

Emergency funding for artists and freelancers in the visual arts sector

The Freelands Foundation has committed a total of £3m in emergency funds to support artists and freelance creative practitioners in the visual arts sector in urgent need of financial support as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fund supports grants of £1500 to £2500 per person, assessed by need.

The Authors' Emergency Fund

Funding is available to help support authors impacted financially by the Coronavirus crisis. Applications are open to all professional authors who are resident in the UK or British subjects – including all types of writers, illustrators, literary translators, scriptwriters, poets, journalists and others – for whom author-related activities make up a substantial amount of their annual income. Grants are likely to be up to £2,000 and designed to meet urgent need with the possibility of review as the situation continues.

Funding from the British Film Institute (BFI)

Through their new COVID-19 Production Continuation Fund the BFI have made up to £2m available to independent British productions interrupted by COVID-19. The Fund is open for applications for a period of 4 weeks from 29 April 2020.

You can find the full list of the BFI’s open funding programmes on their website.

Sports sector

Funding for Community Sports Organisations

Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund aims to deliver immediate funding to those most in need. It's specifically targeted at organisations who have a role in supporting the nation to be active but who are experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the ongoing crisis.

The types of organisations eligible include local sports clubs forced to close at short notice but who are facing ongoing costs around maintenance and utility bills, and voluntary and community sector organisations who deliver or enable sport and physical activity.

This fund is now paused to new applications.

Active Together

Sport England have committed £1 million to combating the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on sports clubs and community activity groups, in the form of match funding through Crowdfunder.

Through their Active Together programme they will be matching crowd funds of up to £10,000 raised by clubs and organisations hit by the coronavirus crisis.

To be eligible, organisations must be:

  • Local sports clubs
  • Charity, community, voluntary and social enterprise sector organisations that deliver sport and/or physical activity in their community – including organisations that are not solely or primarily sports organisations
  • For the benefit of people residing in England.

Small swimming and aquatics organisations

The Swimathon Foundation has launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to help support small swimming and aquatics organisations which need and may not have access to financial support to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Charitable sector

Funding for charities

The Government has announced £750 million of funding for frontline charities to ensure that they can continue their work. This will include:

  • £360 million directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis, for example:
    • Hospices, to help increase capacity and give stability to the sector
    • St John Ambulance, to support the NHS
    • victims’ charities, including domestic abuse, to help with potential increase in demand for charities providing these services
    • vulnerable children’s charities, so they can continue delivering services on behalf of local authorities
    • Citizens Advice, to increase the number of staff providing advice during this difficult time
  • £370 million for small and medium-sized charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund for those in England, to support those organisations at the heart of local communities which are making a big difference during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice
  • Matching donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser – pledging a minimum of £20 million


Crowdfunder: Pay it forward

Through their Pay it forward initiative, Crowdfunder are offering 100% free fundraising for businesses during the Coronavirus crisis. Small businesses who may be worried about the future due to COVID-19, can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign offering customers the option to book meals, a room for the night or a ticket to an event for example, now, based on a promise to deliver in the future. Crowdfunder will cover all platform and transaction fees. Take a look at the businesses already raising funds.

Community groups meeting residents' needs during the Coronavirus crisis

Information about the financial support available to community groups responding to the needs of residents during the Coronavirus crisis can be found on our dedicated page

Search for a business grant

Search a database for information about a grant that may be suitable for your business. Please note that by no means is the information available via the search tool exhaustive, but it may help to find some funding that you were not aware of. Please contact our team for support if you do not find the help you need using this tool on

Scam awareness

HMRC have published guidance to help businesses recognise when contact from them is genuine, and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages.

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