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COVID-19 business support 

Latest updates

October 12, 2020

New three tier system of local lockdowns announced by Prime Minister: 

  • Tier One – medium risk: current social distancing measures, the rule of six and pub curfew at 10pm
  • Tier Two – high risk: same restrictions as Tier One, plus a ban on households mixing indoors and overnight stays. Two households can socialise within six-person limit, but only outdoors
  • Tier Three – very high risk: pubs and bars to close, with furlough-style compensation for staff, but restaurants and gastropubs allowed to open until 10.30pm and will be allowed to serve alcohol with ‘substantial’ meals. Ban on households mixing indoors and outdoors. No non-essential travel outside affected area and no overnight stays. Tougher restrictions in some areas, such as gym closures, if agreed with local politicians. Retail, schools and universities remain open

Currently, Liverpool faces a Tier Three lockdown, while places such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester face Tier Two restrictions. Somerset remains in Tier One.

October 9, 2020

The Government will expand the Job Support Scheme to support firms whose premises are legally required to close under local or national Coronavirus lockdowns. The Government will pay two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month from November 1. In addition, the Government is increasing the cash grants to businesses to support fixed costs. These grants will be linked to rateable values, with up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks, compared to the up to £1,500 every three weeks which was available previously. Full story here.

September 24, 2020 

A new Jobs Support Scheme will be launched to replace the furlough scheme when it ends on October 31. The Chancellor said the Government and firms would top up workers’ wages (up to a cap) covering up to two-thirds of their hours for the next six months. Employees will need to work for at least a third of their normal hours to qualify. So for someone on £2,000 a month working half their hours, they would receive £1,000 normal pay plus £333 extra from their employer and £333 from the Government.

The similar self-employed support scheme will also be extended by six months from November 1.

In addition, the Chancellor announced:

  • A new ‘Pay as you Grow’ Scheme enabling firms which took Government-guaranteed loans to extend them from six to 10 years to lower monthly repayments. Six months payment breaks also introduced
  • VAT cut for hospitality and tourism companies will be extended until March. The cut from 20% to 5% VAT – which came into force on July 15 – had been due to expire on January 12 next year
  • Companies that deferred their VAT bill will no longer have to pay a lump sum in March. They will have the option to repay it in smaller amounts over 11 months

Full official Government guidance can be found online here.

September 22, 2020

A raft of new measures have been announced by the Government including:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 10pm
  • They will also be restricted to table service only and legally required to take contact details
  • People should work from home wherever possible
  • Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters
  • Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15; funerals can still be attended by 30 mourners
  • Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events in October paused
  • “Rule of six” applies to indoor team sports
  • Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence

The British Chambers of Commerce called for more support for businesses in the wake of the new restrictions. Read Director General Adam Marshall’s comments here.


Somerset Chamber of Commerce is supporting local business throughout the Coronavirus crisis.   

On this page you will find links to key Government Coronavirus grants and loans, as well as the latest advice for businesses and employers.

We are working closely with the British Chambers of Commerce and other leading business organisations to ensure our members’ views and concerns are heard at the very highest levels.

We are also working with our members to run remote, online workshops to provide professional and expert advice for businesses on topics such as HR, furlough and financial support. Please see our Chamber events page for more information and our webinar section for the latest expert advice.

Our Chief Executive, Stephen Henagulph, is also holding a fortnightly webinar at 10am every other Wednesday to discuss the latest developments and support packages available to businesses across Somerset. To join the call, please email Alistair Tudor at for dial-in details.

A downloadable COVID-19 Secure 2020 notice is now available for businesses to display once they have carried out the necessary risk assessments and their workplace is COVID-19 Secure. Download a copy here.

Your guide to Government-led business and employee support, advice and grants

The Government has set out a package of temporary and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses. Full details can be found on the dedicated Government COVID-19 Business Support website by clicking here.

The package of measures to support businesses includes:

If you are not sure what financial support your business may qualify for, use the Government’s online business support finder by clicking here.

  • Additional Government Coronavirus help pages can be found here. The site includes guidance for both employers and businesses, including symptoms, travel advice, sick pay, how to certify absence from work, employees having to take time off to care for relatives, limiting the spread in the workplace and handling post.
  • The Government has set up a dedicated Business Support Helpline – 0300 456 3565 – to enable businesses to find the right help and support across a wide range of topics, from business rates relief, grants and employee advice.
  • HMRC COVID-19 Helpline 0800 0159 559 is available to support businesses and self-employed people who are worried about paying their tax bills due to Coronavirus.
  • Official Government online tool to help companies find the relevant guidance needed to enable them to re-open safely is available online here.
  • Guidance to help employers calculate workplace pension and National Insurance contributions in-line with phased changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will allow workers to return on a part-time basis is available online here. 
  • Government workplace safety guidance for the retail sector can be found online here.
  • Somerset County Council and partners have published a detailed Coronavirus local outbreak management plan. The plan is available online and more information can be found in our news section here.
  • The Government list of ‘key workers’ – those who can keep their children at school or college – can be found online here.
  • Apprenticeships guidance for apprentices, employers and assessment organisations is available here.
  • The Government’s full ‘COVID-19 Recovery Strategy‘ can be read here or a three page executive summary has been produced by the British Chambers of Commerce and can be found on our specialist COVID-19 advice page by clicking here.

British Chambers of Commerce Coronavirus Hub

The BCC has a dedicated site with the latest COVID-19 advice for business. It can be found here.

Additional information

Our members specialise in a wide range of  industries and disciplines and many are offering free support and advice on a range of Coronavirus-related topics. More information can be found on our members’ Coronavirus news page by clicking here.

Chamber Contact

For more info please contact:

Alistair Tudor

Operations Manager

Tel: 01823 444924

Email Alistair >


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