Funding sources for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Blogs 21 Dec 2021

National and local grants and schemes available to small businesses and the self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This guide was last updated on 10 February 2022. It contains information regarding national grants and schemes available to small businesses and the self-employed.

Grants and funding are also available at local authority level to help support businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. To find out what help and support is available in your area, we strongly recommend you contact your local council.

This information is updated regularly and is correct to the date shown above. We always recommend checking with your local authority for sources of local funding in addition to those mentioned here. 

FSB members should log into their dashboard to find details of their local FSB contacts, who can outline local support available.

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Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Available in: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

This scheme was reintroduced on 21 December 2021. Under the scheme, small and medium-sized employers with fewer than 250 employees can claim reimbursement for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences on or after 21 December 2021. This can be for up to 2 weeks per employee. 

Check the government guidance for more information and eligibility criteria. 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Deadline: Ended 30 September 2021
Available in: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

Claims for the fifth SEISS grant have now closed. The last date for making a claim was 30 September 2021.

If you received a grant payment, you must report this on your tax return. Find out how to report SEISS grants.

Recovery Loan Scheme 

End Date: 30 June 2022
Available in: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

At Autumn Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Recovery Loan Scheme would be extended until 30 June 2022.

From 1 January 2022, the following changes came into force for all offers made from 1 January 2022:

  • The scheme will now only be open to small and medium sized enterprises
  • The maximum amount of finance available will be £2 million per business
  • The guarantee coverage that the government will provide to lenders will be reduced to 70%

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more and apply.

VAT rate reduction for hospitality, holiday accomodation and attractions.

End Date: 31 March 2022
Available in: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

A new reduced VAT rate of 12.5% will be in place for a further six months, with the standard rate of 20% returning in April 2022.

Check which businesses are eligible for the temporary reduced rate of VAT

VAT Deferral Payments Scheme

Businesses that deferred VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 were able to either:

  • pay in full by 31 March 2021
  • join the online payment scheme by 21 June 2021 to spread payments of deferred VAT over smaller, interest free instalments
  • contact HMRC to make an arrangement to pay by 30 June 2021

If you are unable to pay your VAT bill you must contact HMRC to discuss your options.

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)

End date: Dependent on local authority
Available in: Check with your local authority

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) provides local councils with grant funding to support businesses that are severely impacted by restrictions.

Local councils have the freedom to determine the eligibility criteria for these grants. However, the funding should be used to help businesses that are severely impacted by the restrictions.

Find out more about the ARG in your area via your local council's website

Other Discretionary Grants and Funding

Other business grants are being administered by local authorities - any queries should be addressed to them directly. All businesses can speak to their Local Authority about business rates payment deferrals.

You can find contact details for your local authority on the GOV.UK website.

Scotland Specific Funding

In addition to the UK-wide initiatives, there are a number of schemes specific to Scotland. Find out how to apply for the Strategic Framework Business Fund and more information here.

Business Rates

The business rates holiday in Scotland has been extended for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with the occupied property. You will need to apply to your local council.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief to 31 March 2022. From 1 April 2022, a 50% relief will be available for the first three months of 2022-23, capped at £27,500 per ratepayer. To get this relief, a property has to be occupied. Properties that have closed temporarily due to the government's coronavirus advice will be treated as occupied. 

Local Authority Support

Some councils in Scotland are also providing additional help for local businesses. Approach your local authority about their discretionary fund or your Development Manager to find out what’s available. More information can also be found on the find business support website.

Wales Specific Funding

The Business Wales Government portal contains a fully searchable database of funding currently available to Welsh businesses during the pandemic. An eligibility checking tool for the ERF Phase 3 Business Development Grant is also available.

Business Rates

The business rates holiday in Wales has been extended for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of under £500k until March 2022.

Non-Domestic Rates Relief for Businesses in 2022-23 

The Welsh Government will be providing an additional £116m package of non-domestic rates relief for businesses in the sectors most directly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Retail, leisure and hospitality ratepayers in Wales will receive 50% non-domestic rates relief for the duration of 2022-23. For further information visit Gov.Wales  

Sectoral support

There are various different sectoral support packages for agriculture, childcare, culture, creative and sports sector, life sciences, social business sector and taxi and private hire. Full details can be found on the Business Wales website.

Northern Ireland Specific Funding

NI Business Info provides links to the availability of funding for businesses based in Northern Ireland. 

Business Rates

Properties used for certain purposes will not be charged business rates from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 in Northern Ireland. The sectors are listed below, with examples of some of the qualifying uses:

  • Hospitality – including restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, public houses.
  • Tourism – including B&Bs (which pay business rates), guest houses, hotels, privately run caravan & camping sites, self-catering holiday accommodation, tourist attractions and facilities.
  • Leisure – including cinemas, theatres, leisure centres and facilities, museums, sports premises, sports grounds and associated sport clubs, clubhouses, and music venues.
  • Retail and retail services – shops of all types and sizes (excluding retail premises with retail floor space greater than 500m² Net Internal Area (NIA) and which is wholly or mainly used for the retail sale of food and household goods; and off-licences). Examples of services include hairdressers, barbers, nail and beauty services, fast food outlets, garden centres, travel agencies, car showrooms, auction houses, retail estate agents, and clothing, shoe or electrical goods repairs.
  • Childcare – children’s day-care and nursery premises.
  • Airports – Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport and City of Derry Airport.
Sectoral support

While the main COVID-19 support packages have closed for new applications, some sectoral support packages are still available. Check the NI Business Info website for an up to date list of grants and supports.

Resources and links

UK wide

HMRC coronavirus helpline for businesses and the self-employed
Call: 0800 024 1222
Lines Open: Monday - Friday, 8am to 4pm

HMRC Time To Pay helpline:

Call: 0300 200 3835
Lines Open: Monday - Friday, 8am to 4pm

You can also use the dedicated coronavirus business support finder.


The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has launched a dedicated business support helpline, where small business owners in England can get advice on how to minimise/cope with the impacts of coronavirus.

Call 0800 998 1098
Lines open Mon - Friday 9am - 6pm
Email [email protected]


The Scottish Government coronavirus helpline
Call 0300 303 0660
Lines open Mon - Friday 8:30am - 5:30pm

Scottish Government COVID-19 hub

Wales Business Helpline

Call 0300 060 3000
Lines open Mon - Friday 8:30am - 5:30pm
Welsh Government COVID-19 hub

Northern Ireland

NI Business info
Call 0800 181 4422
Lines open Mon - Friday 8:30am - 5pm

NI Government COVID-19 hub