How to reopen your business safely

If your business can reopen, you must follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers. We have put together this guide and poster to help you to open your business safely. The reopening your business safely guide steps you through the safety measures that need to be in place both inside and outside your business. This includes: social distancing and how to manage queues, signage, planning and licensing guidance, as well as information on NHS Test and Trace and what you need to know, both as an employer and a worker, to help protect yourself and others.

The Government recommends that you carry out a risk assessment and make sensible adjustments to the site and workforce. You can use the Government’s COVID-secure risk assessment tool.

Listed below are the current key resources that all businesses should refer to:

  • New planning and licensing guidance to assist businesses in Camden to reopen can be found here..
  • Can your business reopen? Check the instructions on the government website.
  • New guidance helping employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. There are 12 new guides for different types of workplace. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.
    1. Close contact services: Guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.
    2. Construction and other outdoor work: Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
    3. Factories, plants and warehouses: Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
    4. Heritage locations: Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations.
    5. Hotels and other guest accommodation: Guidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation.
    6. Labs and research facilities: Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments.
    7. Offices and contact centres: Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
    8. Other people's homes: Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes.
    9. Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services: Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes or takeaways.
    10. Shops and branches: Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
    11. Vehicles: Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
    12. The visitor economy: Guidance for people who work in hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows.

Additional resources:

Keeping your business safe

The National Cyber Security Centre has created a scam reporting service so you can flag any suspicious emails. They also have advice on hosting online video conferences .

You can also find out more keeping aware of fraud and scams on the Business Against Scams website which has some practical steps to reduce the risk of scams and fraud.

Financial support for businesses under lockdown and other restrictions

On Thursday 5 November, a new national lockdown expected to last until 2 December came into effect. The Government have announced a new package of financial support to help businesses through this. 

You can sign up to our Camden business e-newsletter to receive the latest announcements and this webpage will be updated with the latest information. If you have further questions about financial support packages, contact us on businessgrants@camden.gov.uk

Please also refer to the Government guidance to check your eligibility and the business support finder to find out what support is available for you and your business.

Business grants

This section sets out what to expect from grants covering the period of national lockdown (currently 5 November to 2 December 2020).

Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) - for businesses required to close during lockdown

As part national restriction measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Government has announced grant funding to be paid by Councils to businesses that have, as a result of the lockdown, been required to close. See here for a list businesses that are required to close. 

Businesses required to close under the new lockdown will be able to apply for a grant of up to £3,000 for the period 5 November to 2 December. These will be paid as a one-off grant to cover the 28-day period. The size of the grant will be based on rateable values:

  • Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under would receive a grant of £1,334.
  • Properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 would receive a grant of £2,000.
  • Properties with a rateable value over £51,000 would receive a grant of £3,000.

If you have more than one qualifying business property, you will receive a grant for each property. Separate applications will be required for each business property.

Where possible, we are looking to pay eligible businesses proactively without an application process, using data already held by the Council. We have been contacting these businesses directly to confirm eligibility and all proactive payments have now been put through. If your business does not receive a payment by Thursday 26 November and you meet the criteria you should fill in an application at camden.gov.uk/business-support-grants. Separate applications may be required for each business property.

To qualify for this grant, you must meet the following eligibility criteria, as set by Government: 

  • You must be based in Camden and pay business rates 
  • You must have been required to close by Government*
  • You must have been trading as usual until the day lockdown came into force (Thursday 5 November 2020) and not in the process of liquidation
  • You must not be in breach of State Aid limits

*Restaurants that have started providing takeaway service and businesses that have set up a click and collect service are still eligible as their substantive business has had to close. Businesses that have chosen to close but are not required to or new businesses opening after 5 November will not be eligible for a grant.

Local Restrictions Support Grant (Sector) - for sectors required by Government to close 

These payments are for businesses in sectors required to close since 23 March, namely; nightclubs, dance halls, sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars.

To qualify, businesses must have continued trading but their venue remained closed and not repurposed into another type of business allowed to stay open during that time (e.g nightclub to a bar). The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) supersedes this grant and business in impacted sectors will receive closure grants as set out above for the period of lockdown as well as a pro-rata backdated payment from the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Sector) for the period 1 November to 4 November. 

The Council is expecting to award these payments to businesses automatically and without an application process.  If these businesses are still required to be closed at the end of lockdown they will then receive the payments set out below every 14 days:

  • Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive a grant of £667 (per 14-day qualifying restriction period)
  • Properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £1,000 (per 14-day qualifying restriction period)
  • Properties with a rateable value over £51,000 will receive grant of £1,500  (per 14-day qualifying restriction period)

Local Restrictions Support Grant (open) - For businesses remaining open but impacted by tier restrictions

This grant scheme is available when an area is in Tier 2 or 3 COVID-alert restrictions. You can find information explaining the Government’s updated COVID alert system and what it means for Camden businesses at gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) supersedes this grant during the lockdown. This means eligible businesses will only be awarded Local Restrictions Support Grants (Open) for the period 17 October to 4 November 2020, when Camden was under Tier 2 restrictions that banned households from mixing indoors.

After lockdown, if Camden returns to Tier 2 or 3, this scheme will re-open for every 28 days of these restriction and businesses will be entitled to one payment per 28 day cycle. These will be based on the following rateable values:

  • Properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive a grant of £934 (per 28-day qualifying restriction period)
  • Properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £1,400 (per 28-day qualifying restriction period)
  • Properties with a rateable value over £51,000 will receive a grant of £2,100 (per 28-day qualifying restriction period)

The Council's Local Restrictions Sector Grant (Open) scheme is now open for applications at camden.gov.uk/business-support-grants 

Camden’s scheme will provide support to businesses in the hospitality, hotel, B&B and leisure/culture sectors who have all been impacted by the inability to mix households, with the following exceptions:

  • B&Bs should be premises established as businesses, registered for Business Rates and operating throughout the year.  As such premises operating in private residences and paying Council Tax will not be eligible.
  • Meeting rooms, kitchens and communal spaces within shared office buildings will not be eligible
  • In the event that they are allowed to reopen, sexual entertainment premises and hostess bars will not be eligible for a LRSG open grant.

As there is likely to be significantly more demand than available government funding, we need to prioritise applications based on acute need and hardship.  In assessing applications, the Council will focus on the following factors and will target funding towards businesses “scoring” highly in relation to both categories. This will not be on a first come first served basis, but based on an assessment of all eligible and complete applications submitted:

  • Firstly applicants who can demonstrate “hardship” i.e. those applicants who, based on the information provided, can show the highest level of burden in ongoing fixed building-related costs and with the most significant fall in income
  • Secondly those applicants who can demonstrate insofar as possible a) how the funding will support the survival of a  business that might otherwise go under and (b) that the business’s survival  will make ongoing positive contribution to Camden’s economy, such as supporting local employment, sustainability and health and wellbeing.

Payments will be made directly into bank accounts once approved and businesses will need to comply with post payment assurance checks and advise how they are using the payments to enable the Council to provide data returns to Government.  As a discretionary scheme there is no appeal process.  Again State Aid limits will apply and businesses no longer trading will not be eligible.

Additional Restrictions Grant 

In addition, we will be receiving funding for a local discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant for businesses. We are working out the details of this scheme and will share this with you as soon as we are able to. 

Extension to the furlough scheme

The Government have announced that they are extending the furlough scheme through to March 2021. This means businesses that previously furloughed employees will continue receiving support to pay wages up to £2,500 per month. Employers can also enrol any staff that were added to their payroll before Saturday 31 October. Find out more at gov.uk/government/news/government-extends-furlough-to-march-and-increases-self-employed-support 

Self-employed grant

The Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended to provide an additional grant for the three-month period covering November 2020 to January 2021.

The grant will cover 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid in a single instalment covering three months of profit up to £7,500. HMRC will provide details of how to claim via gov.uk in the coming weeks. Read more at gov.uk/government/publications/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension

We understand that many businesses want certainty as to whether they qualify as soon as possible and we are working as quickly as possible to get this information. 

Culture Recovery Fund

On Sunday 5 July 2020, the government announced a 1.57bn recovery package for the arts, culture and heritage sector, with 1.15bn available for England. 

Visit Camden Arts for more information.

Coronavirus Business Loan Schemes

The government have announced a number of schemes for businesses affected by coronavirus to access loans more easily. 

Bounce Back Loans: Open to small and medium-sized businesses through a simple application process to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. No fees, interest or repayments to pay for the first 12 months, and loan terms will be up to 6 years. 

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS): access to loans, overdraft, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years. No fees, interest or repayments to pay for the first 12 months. 

Applications are no longer limited to businesses that have been refused a loan on commercial terms, extending the number who benefit. Banks will be banned from asking company owners to guarantee loans with their own savings or property when borrowing up to £250,000.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS): aimed at larger firms with a turnover of between £45m and £500m, providing state-backed loans of up to £25m.

What you need to do

More information on the scheme can be found on the government website including how to check if you are eligible.

Rent support for business tenants in council owned properties

Camden Council is committed to supporting business tenants in our commercial properties during this difficult time.  

What we are doing

We are contacting commercial tenants in Camden Council-owned properties and will provide support where we can to those who are facing difficulty in paying their rent.
For those businesses in our properties who have contacted us (or wish to contact us) about their rent, we are proposing to defer collection and are speaking to tenants over the course of the next few days and weeks to discuss individual circumstances.
 
Whilst business tenants will still be liable for this rent, this will give you time to plan ahead and ensure the future continuation of your business in the premises leased to you by the Council. In order to ensure we provide a coherent business support package, when we call we will be asking for some further information around how your business has been affected, for example, your drop in trade, any forced closure, reduced staff and what government grants you may have applied for etc. We are also likely to ask for the provision of supporting financial documentation.

What you need to do

If you are a business tenant in a Camden property and would like to talk to us about you rent you can get in touch via 020 7974 6459 or email us at commercialrents@camden.gov.uk

Past business grant support

For information on the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) for the November lockdown, visit camden.gov.uk/financial-support-for-businesses-and-employers1

There were two grant funding schemes available until 28 August 2020:

  • the Small Business Grant Fund; and
  • the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund

Unfortunately, applications received after this date cannot be processed as we do not have discretion to make payment to late applications once the scheme ended.  

If we received your application by 28 August 2020, we will be in touch regarding the outcome shortly.

More information on the two grants is available on the government website.

What we are doing

As of 23 August 2020 we have issued 3,850 awards to eligible businesses under the two government business grant schemes, totalling £72.4m, with more processed in the final week and we will continue to process those received before the deadline of 28 August 2020.  We have exceeded our original funding by £1.26m to date.

Throughout the duration of the scheme attempts were made to contact potentially eligible businesses to apply through letters to the property, any forwarding address or registered office, emails sent inviting application where we held email addresses and our property inspectors visited a number of properties to try encourage applications face to face.

Discretionary grant fund

The application window for Camden Council’s Discretionary Grant Fund scheme was open from 9 June to midday on 19 June. We received a significant number of applications and we are currently reviewing and prioritising the cases for payment.

If you have any related general queries on doing business in Camden please direct them to the economic development team.

Business resilience - free online courses

The last few months have been a difficult time for business in Camden. As part of our ongoing support for local business and workers we’ve partnered with the Pop-up Business School to deliver two free pop-up business courses.

  1. Camden online business resilience course 10-12 August

  1. Camden online business start-up course 7 – 18 September

Both courses are free and will be of particular interest to those who want to start or restart their own business, or who are looking to build on their business skills as an owner or employee.

The courses will be tailored specifically for the post-COVID-19 business and working environment. Topics include:

  • starting a business with no money
  • sales
  • building a website,
  • social media
  • search engine optimisation
  • tax and accounting,
  • motivation & networking

Register your interest by sending an email to: jobhub@camden.gov.uk

Other support available for businesses

There is a host of additional support available during this time including the following:

  • Social distancing support and advice: Camden’s frontline presence team are out across Camden 7 days a week providing support and advice to businesses. You’ll recognise our officers as they’ll be wearing Camden high visibility jackets with ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ on them. It’s really important that everyone follows social distancing guidance to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to save lives. As part of their role the team are providing posters (which you can also download here) and advice to local businesses to make sure that they are maintaining 2m distancing to protect customers and their workforce. You can find more information on the teams here.
  • Finding support: The government has launched a Coronavirus Business Support Finder tool, to support businesses easily find the support they’re eligible for
  • Tackling cash-flow: The Mayor of London has launched the PayItForward campaign, to support London businesses in the Retail, Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism sectors to pre-sell vouchers, goods and services for delivery once the restrictions are lifted
  • Paying tax:  If you or a member of your workforce are worried about being able to pay tax as a result of Coronavirus, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. You are now able to choose to defer any VAT payment due between the 20th March and 30th June. Find out more about deferred VAT payments the government website.
  • Support for workers: If you or your staff have concerns on financial support you can find out more via our page on financial support for workers. Camden Job Hub can also provide direct support to any Camden resident on employment matters including links to vacancies, support for CVs and applications and access to financial support. You can register for Camden Job Hub's help via our website.  If any of your employees have a zero-hours contract, please let them know they’ll be able to access Universal Credit and the new Employment Support Allowance. More information on zero hours contracts and Universal Credit is on the government website.
  • Statutory sick pay: Statutory Sick Pay will be available from day 1 rather than day 4 and if you employ fewer than 250 people, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded in full by the government. Find out more about statutory sick pay on the government website.
  • Some mortgage lenders will support customers who are experiencing financial difficulties by giving them mortgage holidays for up to 3 months. Contact your provider for information

Newsletters and email updates

Newsletters and email updates

We send regular information for businesses by e-newsletter. Sign up to receive future editions.

Our new frontline presence teams are also out daily supporting businesses on high streets and markets across the borough with advice and support on social distancing. You can see what the teams have been up to on our news page.

We need your help

Laptops and iPads needed to help vulnerable pupils learn at home

We know that times are tough for businesses right now, but we are calling for any businesses who might be able to donate spare laptops and iPads for vulnerable students to get in touch. We are looking to support children who don’t have a device at home to help them to access vital online learning while schools are closed.

The Council is also working with Camden Learning, schools, community groups and local businesses to find ways to ensure pupils have a Wi-Fi connection in their homes.

If your business has any laptops or iPads that you can donate to a school in Camden that are less than five years old and in good condition, we will collect them from you and work with schools to distribute them to children who most need them.

Companies can also make financial donations and sponsor schools to help purchase or repurpose laptops for students.

Use the short form here to tell us about your laptops or iPads.

Can you support young people with virtual work experience?

We are calling on Camden employers to be part of a pioneering Virtual Work Experience Programme, providing local students, with their first experiences of work this June/July.

We know that many Camden students will have had their crucial first experiences of work cancelled. Work experience has a significant positive impact on young people’s outcomes, particularly on those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This is why Camden has partnered with Speakers for Schools – a national educational charity backed by employers including the Bank of England, BP, Marie Curie and Spotify – to offer STEAM Pledge employers the opportunity to provide Virtual Work Experience (VWEX).

For further information on how to get involved contact Steampledge@camden.gov.uk