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Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Latest health advice and information on service disruptions.

Advice for businesses, self-employed and employers

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We understand this is an extremely difficult time for businesses, the self-employed and employees, who are all facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the impact of Covid-19. We want to reassure all businesses that we are working tirelessly with partners locally, regionally and nationally to ensure that you can access the right help at the right time. 

On this page you'll find information and links to keep you up to date with this fast-moving situation. 

The Government's new business information campaign is now live. Visit the website 

We would encourage businesses and the self-employed to sign up to our Business Gateshead newsletter and follow our social channels for regular updates, as and when they arise.

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We're here to help 

If you believe you would benefit from one-to-one advice, have a question, suggestion or offer, the council's Business Gateshead Team are on hand to help, so get in touch with us today: 

  • Email us: (this inbox is monitored daily 9am-5pm. We are receiving a high number of enquiries but we will get back to you as soon as possible. Please include a contact telephone number in your email).

North East Growth Hub Business Survey  

The North East Growth Hub is looking to capture information on how COVID19 may be impacting your business. Please help them to do this by completing this short survey - it shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. 


Should my business open and should I be going to work?

Please view our business safety page for advice and information about enforcement.

Financial support 

COVID-19 Business Support Grants: Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund 

This is an additional fund to the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) or the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), and it is aimed at certain small and micro businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund, and which have relatively high ongoing, fixed property-related costs, and which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Further information and how to apply

Support for Business Rate payers  

The council's business rates team has contacted each business who it believes will qualify for a grant based on the guidance received by government. 

An online form to request the payment is also now available at

You will need your business rate account number to complete the form. If you have multiple properties you will need to complete a separate grant request for each one of these quoting the unique business rate account number for each property. 

If you don't have your rate account number and you don't have access to your business premises to retrieve it, please email the our business rates team at and our team will be able to help you with this. Please quote Grant Relief in the subject title of your email.

Small Business Grants Fund

The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs. 

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund

A grant of £25,000 will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with rateable values between £15,001 and £50,999. To qualify for the above grants you must have been already registered as the ratepayer on 11 March 2020.

Gateshead Council will be issuing letters to all ratepayers who may be entitled to the grants shortly. A brief online declaration will need to be completed.

Retail discount

The Government has announced that from 1 April 2020 retail discount will be increased to 100%.

This has now been extended to estate agents, letting agencies, bingo halls and hospitality and leisure properties (such as gyms, theatres, hotels and museums) and is awarded to occupied properties that are predominantly retail and have a rateable value under £51,000. Properties that have now closed due to Government guidance are still entitled to the relief. If you are already in receipt of this we will be updating the award on your account and issuing updated bills in due course.

We will be contacting properties to confirm entitlement shortly. 

Business Rates - retail holiday 2020 to 2021

The Government has proposed a retail holiday for all retail, private childcare nurseries, hospitality and leisure businesses for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. We will be updating accounts shortly. The intention of the grant is to assist with business continuity and is not a rates reduction.

You do not need to employ a third party to apply for the grants and any application will only take a few minutes.

Bounce Back Loan

The Government announced a new Bounce Back Loan to help small and medium-sized businesses borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won't be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme

This scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will support businesses with a turnover of less than £45m per year to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the 

Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments. All the major banks will offer the scheme once it has launched so businesses should talk to their bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible or you can apply below through Transmit Startup. 

Apply for the loan

Coronavirus job retention scheme

Workers of any employer who is placed on this scheme can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80% of a furloughed worker's wages, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. These will be backdated to 1st March and will be initially open for 3 months, to be extended if necessary. 

Support for the self-employed 

Self-employed individuals will receive direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month. 

The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.

To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.

Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support a company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze and allow them to finance their short-term liabilities. The facility is open to firms that can demonstrate they were in sound financial health prior to the shock; this means companies that had a short or long-term rating of investment grade, as at 1 March 2020, or equivalent. 

Deferring VAT & Income Tax payments

VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be deferred. No VAT registered business will have to make a VAT payment normally due with their VAT return to HMRC in that period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021, benefitting up to 5.7m self-employed businesses. 

Support for businesses paying tax

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. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. 

HMRC have set up a help line 0300 456 3565. They will give you advice on your tax and any benefits you are eligible to claim.

Statutory Sick Pay package of relief

The Government will bring forward legislation to allow small-and medium-sized businesses and employers (less than 250 employees) to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The refund will cover up to 2 weeks' SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. Employees who are self-isolating are now able to get SSP from the first day they are off work. 


Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered further to confirmation from government and the insurance industry on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met. Businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are however unlikely to be covered as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics. 

Employee benefits

The standard rate in Universal Credit and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from 6 April, meaning claimants will be up to £1,040 better off.

Business support events  

We have taken the decision, following Government guidance, to cancel our forthcoming business support events. We hope to reschedule these events at a later date.  

However, our partners are continuing to deliver a series of webinars and online business support services, for more information please see Business Gateshead events

Further support and information 

Other online support and advice can be found: 

Gateshead Council supplier invoices

If you are a business who works with Gateshead Council and needs to submit an invoice please email them to in pdf format. Please only include one invoice in each pdf. Wherever possible please clearly quote a purchase order number as failure to do so could significantly delay the processing of the invoice.

Once you have emailed an invoice please do not send a hard copy.

Any queries about outstanding invoices should be sent to

The Government Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launches COVID-19 taskforce

The CMA is launching a taskforce today (27 March) to tackle negative impacts within its remit of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The outbreak of COVID-19 is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge that has prompted many concerns that businesses might exploit the situation to take advantage of people, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about their products.

Read more about the taskforce and report any concerns about a business exploiting the current situation

Gateshead Estates tenants

We are very concerned about the potential impact of Covid-19 on our tenants. 

We want to offer long-standing small businesses experiencing short-term cashflow problems, particularly those in the hospitality, leisure, retail and overseas travel sector, the opportunity to defer their rental payments for at least a month, until UK government support, outlined above, is in place.

If tenants are severely affected and currently pay quarterly, they will be able to switch their payment to monthly. The situation will be monitored and if, in a month's time, they need to defer their rent further because the government support has not yet arrived, they will be able to do so again, up to a maximum of three months. In addition, we will work on a case by case basis to support tenants who, even after government support, may still face extreme hardship.

We have responded to a number of tenants who have already contacted us about their concerns in relation to the Coronavirus outbreak, and we expect to speak to many more over the coming days.

We are keeping the situation under close review and we will do our best to support our tenants.

If you require further information please contact Karl Thompson on 0191 433 3455.

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