Chelmsford City Council

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Coronavirus help and guidance for businesses and employers

Find financial support

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents a significant challenge to businesses around the globe.

The UK government have planned extensively over the years for an event like this. The UK is therefore well prepared to respond in a way that offers substantial protection. 

If your business has been (or is likely to be) affected, we urge you to seek advice. The government has supplied a series of resources to: 

  • inform employers on the latest developments 
  • give advice on protecting you and your employees

The government has also launched a business support finder tool. You just complete a short survey, and you will then be signposted to loans, grants and other schemes you could be eligible for.

We have now received guidance and details about the amount of money we can give to businesses, under the discretionary business support grant fund.

We are currently working on a policy which will explain the criteria businesses will need to meet to be considered for the support grant. 

You will need to complete an application form and supply some supporting evidence before we can consider your business for a grant.

We will only consider your business for a grant if you apply through the official application form on our website.

We will update this page at the beginning of June and provide a link to the application form.

In the meantime, our Business Rates team will not be able to provide updates on individual cases.

Leisure, hospitality and retail grant

If your business is within the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, the government is now offering a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

If your rateable value is up to and including £15,000, you will receive a grant of £10,000.

If your rateable value is over £15,001 or over and less than £51,000, you will receive a grant of £25,000. 

Apply now

Small business grant

If your business already pays little or no business rates under Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), Rural Rate Relief (RRR) and tapered relief, the government is providing additional funding through local authorities. 

This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Apply now

We can issue two dispensations to park within Chelmsford, to any food delivery services. 

The dispensations will not be vehicle specific, so you don't need to provide any vehicle registrations. The permits will be valid three months and we will then review them after this period.

To apply for a permit, you will need to tell us:

  • your business name and address
  • a description of the business
  • a contact telephone number, name and an email address

You need to then email your request to 

We will email dispensations to the company for you to print off and place on/in the vehicle.

The Chancellor has announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses through this period of disruption caused by coronavirus.

Whilst grants and business rate relief will be administered by us, there is a range of other support provided by the Government.

Self Employed Support

The government has announced the new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). If you’re self-employed, your Income Tax payments will be delayed.

The new income support scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months. This may be extended if needed. There are some conditions for applications. 

HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. The government has produced a step by step guide for employers wanting to claim their employees wages.

Employers can use the calculator and claim for wages.

Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

The government will support businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for three months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period.

Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

Small and medium sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee and apply to employers with fewer than 250 employees.

The Government is currently developing a rebate scheme. Further details will be provided in due course once the legalisation has passed.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new business interruption loan scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank will support small and medium sized business to access bank lending and overdrafts. The scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value and the Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan.

The Scheme is available from 23 March and is available via all major banks. There are 40 accredited providers in all.

Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

On Friday 3 April, the Treasury announced the introduction of a new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). This provides a government guarantee of 80% to enable loans of up to £25m for firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m.

You can find further information on the CLBIL scheme.

Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

You can find more information from the Bank of England.


Time to Pay Service

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.


The Association of British Insurers have issued a statement on business insurance cover.  

They have a COVID-19 Q and A, which includes business insurance, trade credit, income protection and pensions and investments information.

We will continue to update this page as information becomes available.

Support for charities

The government has announced that charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support. This is to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.

You can find more information about the package of support for charities.

Future Fund

The government has announced a new £500 million loan scheme for high growth firms, called the Future Fund. 

Delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank, the Future Fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the government. Private investors will at least match the government commitment.

The scheme will launch in May 2020. You can find more information on the Future Fund, including eligibility requirements.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The government have announced that a new Bounce Back Loan scheme will be made available to small businesses from Monday 4 May. 

These loans will be 100% government-backed. Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months.

You can find details of the eligibility criteria and further information about the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

You can visit the government website for the latest guidance businesses. Employers and businesses owners should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.


Business closures

The government has issued advice to certain businesses that they should stop trading.

The government have provided a list of businesses and premises that can remain open and those which must close.

Protection from eviction for commercial tenants

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction.

These measures will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months. You can find out more about the eviction ban.

Relaxed rules to support businesses

The government has temporarily relaxed rules and regulation to help businesses handle any disruption they are experiencing due to coronavirus.

Social distancing in the workplace

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has published guidance for a range of sectors on social distancing in the workplace during the coronavirus outbreak.

The guidance covers a range of sectors including construction, waste management, transport, fishing and many more. You can read more about social distancing.

Working safely

The government has produced a range of guidance to help employers get their businesses back up and running and their workplaces operating safely.

You can view the eight guidance documents, based on workplace setting.

You must assess the risk of coronavirus on your employees, contractors and visitors. You can find more information about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak on the HSE website.

We recognise the pressures that Chelmsford businesses are facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

You can help us to help you by completing our quick, confidential Chelmsford Business Recovery Survey to help us better understand the challenges you are dealing with.

Business Support Helpline

You can contact the government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice. 

You can call them on 0300 456 3565. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. 

Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea)

Colbea provide business advice, training and counselling to new and existing businesses. This service is now also available online.

To book a slot visit or call 01206 489351


BEST Growth Hub

The BEST Growth Hub will regularly be updating its webpages to provide information on the support packages available and how to access them.

There is also a short survey to help understand more about how coronavirus, and the government’s response to the crisis, has impacted businesses.

Essex Chambers of Commerce

The Essex Chamber of Commerce offers a wide range of support to local businesses. It’s webpages provide businesses with the latest information and guidance available in relation to coronavirus.


The Federation of Small Businesses

The FSB provides advice and guidance to small businesses on reducing the risks from coronavirus.

If your income has been affected by coronavirus and you need help with your rent, we want to provide you with some information to help you at this difficult and uncertain time.

You can view our Coronavirus guidance for Council Tax and benefits. 

Thursday 26 March 2020

Dear Chelmsford business, 

We wanted to let you know that Chelmsford City Council is backing Chelmsford businesses and recognises the great challenges you face.

We appreciate that this is a very difficult period for you and we want to reassure all businesses that we are working closely with our partners, both local and national, to provide advice, guidance and targeted support to ensure that our businesses get the right help at the right time. 

At Chelmsford City Council we are: 

  • suspending business rate direct debits so that no payment is taken from businesses that benefit from the 12-month business rates holiday announced by the government
  • applying the 100% discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for 12-months automatically and will write to you shortly with a revised bill.
  • speaking to the Chelmsford Business Board and engaging with Chelmsford businesses and business networks about the support needed and understanding how we can facilitate that support.  
  • issuing parking dispensations to park within Chelmsford, to any food delivery service.
  • sending regular communications to our businesses via e-bulletins and ensuring our webpages are up-to date so that you receive timely business support information and advice.

We have received further guidance on the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund available for some businesses, announced by the Government. We are working as quickly as possible to set up processes to make these grants available. 

The business advice service, delivered in partnership with Colbea, is now also available online. To book a slot visit

In addition, the government has announced a number of measures to support local businesses across the country.


This is what the Government is doing:  

  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, enabling businesses to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees who would otherwise have been laid off.
  • The Government have deferred VAT and Income Tax payments.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be available from day one, and if your business employs fewer than 250 people, the Statutory Sick Pay will be refunded in full by the government.
  • A new Business Interruption Loan Scheme delivered by the British Business Bank will support small and medium sized business to access bank lending and overdrafts. The scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. 
  • The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies under the new COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility.
  • Support for businesses with outstanding tax liabilities can call the HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559 and may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.


The situation is constantly changing, with new advice and guidance being issued daily. Please do regularly check this page for the most up-to-date information, guidance and support. Please also share the link with your colleagues, networks and contacts.

We know that the impact of COVID-19 will be enormous for many of our businesses. We will need to work together to get through this and to ensure our business community is able to recover together. Chelmsford’s business community has always stood out for being strong, resilient, and diverse; today these traits are more important than ever.

We are here to support you as much as we can.

Please do make contact with our Business Rates Team if we can help in any way ( / 01245 606805).  

With very best wishes,  

Stephen Robinson, Leader of the Council 

Nick Eveleigh, Chief Executive

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced extra help for some businesses in his Budget and there have been a number of updates since then.

As we have already printed and posted the business rate bills for 2020/21, it is too late to alter them to reflect the changes. We will be sending new bills out as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we are suspending direct debit so that we don't take payments from businesses that benefit from the changes the government has announced.

As the government is announcing frequent changes, we may have missed out some newly-eligible businesses. We will refund any direct debits we have taken incorrectly.

You can find a list if eligible business types below.

Leisure, hospitality and retail businesses

The Chancellor said that no business in the retail, leisure or hospitality sector will pay rates this year regardless of their rateable value. 

Retail properties are already defined in our discretionary rate relief policy, but 'leisure and hospitality' is a new category. 

This has now been defined as properties used for the provision of sport and leisure facilities, assembly of visiting members of the public and, the provision of living accommodation as a business. This includes:

  • sports grounds and clubs
  • museums and art galleries
  • nightclubs
  • sport and leisure facilities
  • stately homes and historic houses
  • theatres
  • tourist attractions
  • gyms
  • public halls
  • clubhouse, clubs and institutions
  • hotels, guest and boarding houses
  • holiday homes
  • caravan parks and sites
  • employment agencies
  • estate agents and letting agents
  • betting shops
  • wellness centres, spas and massage parlours
  • casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls

Properties must be occupied and not empty. Properties which are temporarily closed due to government advice on coronavirus will be treated as occupied for the purposes of this help.

The government has applied to the EU to advise that they intend to offer this help. In many cases, the assistance is large enough to count as 'State Aid'. We are preparing to award the help to large businesses, but will have to wait until the government gives the go-ahead. 

You can read the  full guidance regarding the business rates holiday

Private nurseries

Private nurseries which are occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and which are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage will pay no business rates in 2020/21. 

You do not need to do anything. We will send you a new bill to confirm as soon as possible. 

We understand that food businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.

If there are any significant changes to your business, you should contact us and tell us about the changes.

This includes services like click and collect, delivery and significant changes in how you prepare your food. For example, cooking, chilling and selling the product.

By telling us about any changes to your business, it means we can support you to operate your business in a safe way.

If your business is now looking to provide takeaway deliveries, you must be registered as a food business with us.

You can visit the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for advice about how to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery. 

If you are considering reopening your business, you can view a check list on the Food Standards Agency website for guidance on how to reopen your business safely. You should use the checklist to ensure that your kitchen is clean and ready, and your food is safe.

You can read coronavirus guidance for businesses on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health website.

The government has also issued some guidance to employees and businesses on coronavirus. You can view this on the GOV.UK website.

If you are reopening your business during coronavirus, you must ensure that hot and cold-water systems are managed properly to minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

If your business has been closed since March due to coronavirus, you must ensure you are aware of the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.  

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by inhaling small droplets of water in the air that contain the Legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria is naturally present in water systems and the closure of buildings and warm weather can result in an increase in the bacteria, especially if the water systems are not maintained.

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to coronavirus symptoms. You can find out what the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are on the HSE website.

If you are worried you have not maintained the water systems in your business, you will need to follow the guidance on the HSE website.

If you need any further help or advice about health and safety for your business, you can contact our Business Compliance Team.

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Last updated: 22 May 2020

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