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Support for business - City of York Council coronavirus update

Published Friday, 20 March 2020

We know that the start to 2020 has been extremely tough for the businesses that make York such a special place.

We want to help and support our local businesses, the services you provide and the jobs you create.  

We will be issuing regular updates to help you access the available support to respond to this unprecedented challenge. The council is working with York BID, Make it York, the LEPS and other representative groups to listen to our business community and understand what other support we might be able to offer to reduce the impact of Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Make it York will soon distribute a  survey for all the city’s businesses. Please make sure you complete it so we have the best insight to develop future support, and represent your interests nationally, particularly as the government considers further measures.

Last night we announced that the council will create its own emergency fund to support residents, businesses and communities, on top of measures announced by the government. Full details of this fund will be announced next week.

Signposting to support

We want to make sure that your business can access all the support available. 

There have been many national announcements, and we expect many more both nationally and locally, starting with the Chancellor’s statement later today.

We have detailed all the support below, and will update with the latest information as it happens.

Social distancing

All businesses and employers are recommended to introduce social distancing measures. These are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people which will help to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), ultimately saving lives. Read the current government advice, which includes recommendations for people to work from home wherever possible.

Business rates and grants

The Government has pledged to provide £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cashflow through this period. The package includes:

  • 100% business rates holiday for 12 months for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
  • £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000
  • businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) will receive a one-off £10,000 cash payment
  • £5,000 business rates discount for public houses (increased from £1,000)

We know that acting quickly is essential to support cash flow and protect jobs. We are working hard to make sure this support gets to those who need it as quickly as possible. This includes updating over 4000 business rates accounts by the end of this week, trying to stop any direct debits for qualifying businesses.

At the same time, we’re developing a new process to distribute the grants while we await further government guidance on how to administer them.

See further information about available business rates discounts and reliefs and further coronavirus information for businesses.

Government-backed loans

A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will launch next week (week commencing 23 March), to support businesses to access up to £5m bank lending and overdrafts. Full details of the scheme, including eligibility criteria, will be available on the British Business Bank website as soon as it is launched.

Support and ideas for adapting business models

York’s businesses are creative and resilient, and also supporting each other. Talk to your representative or member organisations for support and ideas to adapt your business models.

The York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership is sharing guidance as well as inspirational stories and guidance and diversification through the York and North Yorkshire Growth Hub.

Indie York is pulling together tips, ideas and good practice to support local businesses to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape and hopes to share them beyond its membership soon.

Food businesses advice

The council has prepared a letter with specific advice for the city’s food businesses. The government is also set to introduce legislation to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways


We’ll always talk to any business in one of our properties about support paying rent, and we’re now working with other landlords to try and make sure all commercial tenants benefit from a considered and supportive approach.

Advice for business paying tax

If you run a business or are self-employed, and you're concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, call HMRC’s Tax helpline to support businesses; telephone: 0800 0159 559.

Sick pay refunds

The government will enable employers with fewer than 250 employees to reclaim up to 2 weeks' Statutory Sick Pay that's been paid to employees absent from work because of COVID-19. You'll need to keep records of staff absences, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.

For access to all information relating to Corona, from what to do if an employee becomes unwell to health and safety advice from ACAS, visit

We will issue another update whenever there is important news or information to share.