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Business Support

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated 23.12.20

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.

If you have a business related enquiry about COVID-19, please complete the Dorset Gateway Business Support Form and return to [email protected] to help us respond to you as quickly as possible.

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 updates below 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.

COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses

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 current measures. Please check the links for further information on upcoming deadlines.

Use this tool to find which support you may be eligible for.

Links to financial support:

Local Authority grants (including Local Restrictions Support Grant and Additional Restrictions Grant)

Paying your employees

Support for the self-employed

  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (Details for 4th grant TBC)

Support for small and medium-sized businesses

 Support for large businesses

 Paying sick pay

Paying tax

Business rates relief

Further funding

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.

Check the business support website for answers to frequently asked questions.

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.
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