Funding sources for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

Blogs 1 Oct 2021

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

This guide was last updated on 1 October 2021. 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. 

What was announced in the Budget 2021?

In response to the Budget announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on 3 March 2021, FSB said "the Budget will help many with final push, but much more needed on employment costs and those overlooked".

Read our full response here.

  • The furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September 2021. Employees will continue to receive 80%. As businesses reopen, they will be asked to contribute 10% in July, rising to 20% in August and September.
  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will continue until September, with a fourth grant from February to April, and a fifth grant from May onwards. The fifth grant will be open from late July. Those whose turnover has fallen by 30% will continue to receive the 80% grant. For those whose turnover has fallen less than 30% will receive a 30% grant.
  • Newly self-employed that have filed a tax return can access the fourth and fifth SEISS grant.
  • Increases to the National Living Wage, which will rise to £8.91 for 23+ from April 2021.
  • Doubling of the employer apprentice incentive to £3,000 for any age apprentice.
  • A new restart grant fund of £5bn to help businesses reopen. For businesses reopening in April in England, grants of up to £6,000 per premises will be available. For hospitality, leisure and personal care businesses, this will be up to £18,000.
  • A £700m fund for arts, culture and sporting institutions to help them reopen.
  • A new recovery loan scheme. Businesses of any size can apply for loans from £25,000 to £10m through to the end of this year. The government will provide a guarantee to lenders of 80%.
  • The 100% business rates holiday will continue for the first three months of the year until the end of June. For the remaining nine months, they will be discounted by two-thirds, up to a value of £2m, with a lower cap for businesses who have been able to stay open.
  • 5% reduced rate of VAT extended until 30 September 2021. It will then be 12.5% for a further six months, returning the standard rate in April 2022.
  • Corporation tax will increase to 25% from April 2023. A Small Profits Rate of 19% for small businesses with profits of £50,000 or less.
  • A new Help to Grow initiative for small businesses will commence in the Autumn.  This will provide opportunities to small businesses to allow them to access discounted software and advice as well as subsidised training in areas such as financial management and marketing. Register your interest here.
  • Planned increases for alcohol duties will be frozen.

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 Job Retention Scheme (Furlough Scheme)

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

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ended on 30 September 2021.

Claims for September must be made by 14 October 2021. Read our guide to the end of furlough to learn more.

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

Deadline: 31 December 2021
Available in: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

Applications for CBILS and BBLS closed on 31 March 2021. The Recovery Loan Scheme has replaced CBILS and BBLS, with loans of up to £10m, applications are now open.

Finance terms are up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities, providing support as businesses recover and grow following the disruption of the pandemic and the end of the transition period. Find out here how the FSB Funding Platform can help FSB members access lenders that participate in the Recovery Loan Scheme in minutes and check their funding options in one place. The Co-operative Bank will be on the panel of lenders.

FSB Funding Platform's guide to the scheme has further information. 

Businesses can get access to other types of funding such as Business Loans, Asset Finance, Invoice Finance, Growth Capital, Pension Finance, Property Funding, or Trade Finance. Innovative businesses can also get funding for R&D and claim back up to 33% of their R&D costs.

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.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

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

Employers can only claim for employees coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees who were off work on or before 30 September 2021. Check the government guidance for more information here.

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.

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.

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


Visit our coronavirus hub

Find advice, guidance and resources to help small businesses navigate the current climate

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