Coronavirus guidance and support


South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are committed to supporting all local businesses. We are working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to understand the UK Government’s support available and when it will be


• Two new leadership programmes to help small business leaders grow their companies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic have been launched today (3 August). Read more on the government website

• A new online and telephone support service for apprentices who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak was launched on 1 August. Find out more here

• On 23 July, the government released important guidance on the new rules on face masks in England, coming into force on Friday 24 July. Coverings must be worn in shops, banks, building societies, post offices and ‘travel hubs’, such as trains stations and airports

• Full guidance can be found on the government website. Details for how to make your own face covering can be found here

• New guidance on how to dispose of your personal or business waste, including face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), during the coronavirus pandemic has been published here

The full list of restaurants that have registered for the scheme can be found here.

Restaurants and establishments can used the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme:

  • all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August 2020
  • to offer a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to diners for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in
  • to claim the money back from the governmentFind out more information on the scheme here.

Establishments can find out how to claim the reimbursement for discounts given to diners here.


Please note that South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council grants are FREE to apply for.


On 25 July, the following businesses are permitted to open:

  • Indoor gyms
  • Indoor pools
  • Leisure centres

The following businesses must remain closed until further notice:

  • Nightclubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Indoor play areas, e.g. soft play
  • Waterparks
  • Conference centres

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced a significant COVID-19 package that builds on and bolsters the existing support offered by jobcentres. Read it here.


Wednesday 8 July, The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his ‘Plan for Jobs’ to outline how the government will boost job creation in the UK, with the aim to support and protect existing employees. This consists of:

Jobs Retention Bonus

The Government will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. Employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 a month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021. Further detail about the scheme will be announced by the end of July.

Eat Out to Help Out

The Chancellor announced the introduction of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out scheme’ to encourage people to return to eating out. This will entitle every diner to a 50 per cent discount of up to £10 per head on their meal, at any participating restaurant, café, pub or other eligible food service establishment. The discount can be used unlimited times and will be valid Monday to Wednesday on any eat-in meal (including on non-alcoholic drinks) for the entire month of August 2020 across the UK. Participating establishments will be fully reimbursed for the 50 per cent discount.

Temporary VAT cut for food and non-alcoholic drinks

From 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021, the reduced (5 per cent) rate of VAT will apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises across the UK. 

Temporary VAT cut for accommodation and attractions

From 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021, the reduced (5 per cent) rate of VAT will apply to accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK. 

Payments for employers who hire new apprentices

The Government will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.

Kickstart Scheme

A new ‘Kickstart Scheme’ will be introduced – a £2 billion fund to create six-month work placements aimed at those aged between 16 and 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding available for each job will cover 100 per cent of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

High quality traineeships for young people

An additional £111 million will be provided this year for traineeships in England, to fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24-year olds. The Government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee. The Government will improve provision and expand eligibility for traineeships to those with Level 3 qualifications and below.


support infographic

Download the Financial Support infographic here.


Not sure which grant is right for your business? Check if you are eligible for a grant using the Business Support Finder.



The online service to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now available.

To use the online service you will need the Government Gateway user ID you got when you registered for PAYE Online. If you did not register online you will need to enrol for the PAYE Online service.

Find your lost Government Gateway user ID if you do not have it.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:

  • have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
  • cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks

You can claim for periods of sickness starting on or after:

  • 13 March 2020 – if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • 16 April 2020 – if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus

The weekly rate was £94.25 before 6 April 2020 and is now £95.85. If you’re an employer who pays more than the weekly rate of SSP you can only claim up to the weekly rate paid.

Find out more here.



  • Commercial tenants unable to pay rent because of Coronavirus will be protected from eviction
  • Measures support ongoing conversations between landlords and tenants about voluntary arrangements
  • Latest measure builds on the unprecedented package of support for businesses already announced

These measures will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.

As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the government is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them.




HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need, and they may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. 

HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.



Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim.

Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.



The Government’s Business Support Helpline is available for businesses in England, of all sizes, who wish to speak directly to an advisor about the impact of Coronavirus. The number to call is 0300 456 3565.

Government is also advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity, developing an understanding on the potential impacts to their supply chains, customers or other factors critical to their operations. 

This is a rapidly evolving situation, which we are monitoring carefully. The situation is kept under constant review and any change in guidance will be based on scientific evidence. The advice is based on the expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer for England, the NHS and Public Health England. 

Businesses should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.