We know there are huge concerns regarding the potential impact of COVID-19 and we’re doing all we can to support the business community through these challenging times. We’ve suspended our in-person events programme and moved online with some networking (see here), which will be reviewed in due course.
Alternatively, please call the team on 01202 714800. Please note that we are receiving high volumes of enquiries and we will respond to you as quickly as possible.
Dorset Chamber is affiliated to British Chambers of Commerce. Together we continue to lobby on behalf of businesses at a local, regional and national level. See the latest responses from Dorset Chamber and from British Chambers of Commerce.
You can join the conversation by becoming a Dorset Chamber member
Please scroll down to access advice and support on coronavirus, including Government financial support.
First of all check the guidance for England on which businesses must close and which can remain open, as well as the restrictions that apply to the latter. There are legal responsibilities you have as a business to protect employees and customers. Access the Government tool to carry out a risk assessment.
Organisations in certain sectors should collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors on their premises to support NHS Test and Trace. The resources include generating a QR poster to help people check in using the NHS COVID-19 app.
Download the notice to display at your premises showing you’ve made the workplace COVID-secure.
Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
If your business remains open, sector-specific guidance has been produced to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic (be COVID-secure).
Guidance for Employers and Businesses
This guidance assists employers, businesses and staff in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19). This guidance has been updated in line with the current lockdown and will continue to be updated – please refer back to it page for further updates.
Guidance for Employees
This includes guidance on if you have symptoms, sick pay, furloughed (laid off) workers, benefits and rent payments. This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation so please refer back to this page for updates. See here for holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus.
Until December 2, 2020 you must work from home if you can effectively do so. You should not go in to work if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, even if you cannot work from home. Use this tool to find out if you should go back to work during this phase of coronavirus lockdown, and what you can do if you should not be going into work.
Financial Support for Businesses, the Self Employed and Sole Traders
The Government has extended the support schemes and deadlines for businesses, self-employed people and sole traders to apply for job protection schemes, grants and loans. The deadlines and timelines have been extended to account for the new measures.
Use this tool to find which support you are eligible for.
NEW Local Restrictions Support Grant: the Government’s Press Release issued following the announcements on Sat 31 Oct states: “In addition, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3K per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Also, £1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.”
BCP Council and Dorset Council have launched the application process for businesses in their areas to claim a grant if they have had to close under the lockdown restrictions from 5 November 2020 to 2 December 2020. Please check eligibility and criteria before submitting your applications, as follows:
- For businesses in the BCP Council area, follow this link: https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Features/COVID-19/Employers-and-businesses/Financial-support-for-businesses/local-restrictions-support-grant-for-businesses-closed-from-5-november-to-2-december-2020.aspx
- For businesses in the Dorset Council area, follow this link: https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/emergencies-severe-weather/emergencies/coronavirus/business-and-employers/local-restrictions-support-grant-lrsg-for-premises-that-are-closed.aspx
Links to financial support:
Paying your employees
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) note: this has been extended to March 31 2021
- Apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant: 30 or more job placements. Dorset Chamber is an
- Apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant: 29 or less job placements
Support for the self-employed
Support for small and medium-sized businesses
- Apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Apply for the coronavirus Future Fund
- Apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan
Support for large businesses
- Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Apply for the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
Paying sick pay
- Deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Defer your Self Assessment payment on account due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- If you cannot pay your tax bill on time
Business rates relief
- Check if your retail, hospitality or leisure business is eligible for business rates relief due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Check if your nursery is eligible for business rates relief due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Innovate UK: There are currently 24 Funds available for companies to either compete for, or provide an Expression of Interest. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. Its web site helps businesses search for funding opportunities, provides support and advice for applicants, allows them to register for online funding webinars and find out about UKRI Covid-19 related funding and projects. Businesses can also connect with an innovation expert.
Note the current deadlines range from November and December 2020 to January 2021.
Crowdfund Dorset Business: Dorset LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) is offering existing micro and small businesses the opportunity to receive grant funding to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is aimed at businesses that can demonstrate how, with support of the funding, they’ll deliver direct economic benefit within the Dorset area.
See the latest updates and comments on COVID-19 from Dorset Chamber:
06.11.2020 – Dorset Chamber comment: Furlough scheme extension
03.11.2020 – Coronavirus lockdown update
31.11.2020 – Dorset Chamber and British Chambers response to Lockdown announcement
17.10.2020 – British Chambers letter to the Prime Minister asking for 5 business tests to be met (also signed by Ian Girling, Chief Executive at Dorset Chamber)
13.10.2020 – BBC South TV item on hospitality: Ian Girling comments
13.10.2020 – Dorset Chamber statement on local lockdown restrictions
22.09.2020 – Dorset Chamber comment – new Coronavirus restrictions
Following the Quarterly Economic Survey results for Q2 2020, we have a breakdown of responses from Dorset businesses
British Chambers of Commerce President, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister setting out principles for a phased restart of the UK economy.
The leading business group set out its integrated approach, the first step in a three-stage process, as the government prepares to ease initial lockdown restrictions.
Chambers of Commerce in Dorset urge Government to move quickly
Ian Girling, Dorset Chamber Chief Exec, has written to Boris Johnson regarding support for businesses during the COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak.
The NHS Test and Trace Guidance was updated on November 5th.
Specific COVID-19 testing guidance for employers and third party healthcare workers has also been provided.
Read the information below before booking a test
You can only get a free NHS test if at least one of the following applies:
- you have a high temperature
- you have a new, continuous cough
- you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed
- you’ve been asked to by a local council
- you’re taking part in a government pilot project
You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.
You may need to get tested if you’re due to have surgery or a procedure. The hospital will arrange this for you. Contact your hospital department if you have any questions.
When to get a test
If you have symptoms, get a test as soon as possible.
Book a visit to a test site to have the test today. Test sites are open 7 days a week. Order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.
In England and Northern Ireland you need to get the test done in the first 8 days of having symptoms. On days 1 to 7, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you’re ordering a home test kit on day 7, do it by 3pm. On day 8, you need to go to a test site – it’s too late to order a home test kit.
Download the app
You can help to protect your friends and family by downloading the NHS COVID-19 App which also provides the latest guidance for individuals.
In light of the very recent changes we will be updating this page shortly.
Business Support from HM Government has produced this FAQ guide on support available.
As a Chamber we are seeing additional FAQs so have outlined these and some answers, linking to credible sources of further information. We fully appreciate the support does not currently cover everyone therefore we are collating examples of such gaps and sharing with the British Chambers of Commerce who are lobbying Government. If you fall into such a gap, please contact us by completing the Dorset Gateway Business Support Form at the top of this page.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
I’m a director who takes a small salary and the rest as dividends, is there any support available for me?
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies but is only applicable to your salary that is subject to PAYE and NI. However, furlough requires the individual not to work during this period of absence. Where directors have particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company. Full details here.
I pay rent to a landlord so I’m not directly paying business rates. Am I eligible for business rate relief?
- The person who pays the rates would likely receive the grant so this is something to get in touch with your landlord about. The Government advice (Business Support Grant FAQs – section 31/32) states “In these cases we encourage landlords to support local government in ensuring the grant reaches eligible ratepayers.”
This is my first year of trading, how does this impact my ability to claim support?
- You must have submitted your Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019 (you must do this by 23 April 2020 or you will not be able to claim) and traded in the year 2019 to 2020. If you have not submitted Self Assessment tax returns for all 3 years find out how your eligibility is worked out here. Full details on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme here.
I joined/employee joined company after 28 Feb so I’m not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. What are my options?
- This has just been amended to 19 March, whereby your payroll details must have been submitted by your employer to HMRC by this date; full details here
I was made redundant because as my employer had to let people go. What are my options?
- This same employer can re-employ you, put you on furlough and claim for your wages here
I’m self-employed and want to claim a grant under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, but can I carry out any work while on this? And other questions about SEISS
- Yes, you can continue working or take on additional work. Full details here
Our B&B business doesn’t occupy more than 50% of the house so we don’t have a business account. Can we still claim for the grants?
- This is an example we’ve seen where upon contacting the Council, the business owners don’t seem to be eligible for support. We recommend discussing with your local rates office. We are also sharing such examples with the British Chamber of Commerce.