The government have issued coronavirus business support and guidance 

To help find out what support is available for your business, you can use the government's coronavirus support finder tool

There are also other areas of support available from the government that can help businesses.

Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grants (OHLG)

Harlow Council has received Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant funding from government to support hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses with a one-off grant. This is to recognise the impact of rising cases of the Omicron variant, which has affected some businesses.

The OHLG scheme will deliver grants of up to £6,000 to hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses in England. For full details of the eligibility criteria and grant levels please read our OHLG policy (pdf)

We reviewed our non-domestic rating records and sent emails and letters to businesses that may be eligible for this grant funding inviting applications on 20 January 2022. The communication provides details of how to apply for the OHLG funding.

If after reading our policy you believe your business may be eligible and you have not received an email or letter providing details of the application process, please email quoting “OHLG” and your business rates account reference in the subject line, and provide details of why you believe your business may be eligible.

The application window for OHLG will close at 1pm on Monday 21 February 2022.

Previous support schemes

Essex Business Adaptation Grants

Essex County Council (ECC) have reintroduced this grant scheme to support businesses that have been impacted by periods of local coronavirus restrictions.

The Essex Business Adaptation Grant scheme will provide capital grants of up to £5,000 for small and medium enterprises to adapt their premises and operations.

The grants will support these businesses to carry out adjustments to premises to enable them to continue to operate, improve or diversify their business and make sure it is COVID-safe. You must use this money to adapt your premises or operations so you can trade in a COVID-secure way.

ECC have provided funding to Harlow Council to allow us to distribute grants to eligible businesses. 

The grant is open to micro, small and medium-sized business in Harlow.

These grants are only available for any eligible spending that happened after 1 June 2021 and you must have been trading on 4 November 2020.

If you have already received an adaptations grant, you cannot apply for a second grant within 2 months of your first payment.

To be eligible, your business must have:

  • fixed property-related costs
  • been open and trading to visiting members of the public on 4 November
  • been required to close or been severely impacted by the restrictions imposed

You can find full details on the grant and eligible businesses in our Essex Business Adaptation Grant policy (pdf)

Applications closed for this grant on 30 November 2021.

No payments will be made after 31 December 2021.

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) is a discretionary grant scheme to support businesses severely impacted by the national lockdown and coronavirus restrictions.

Harlow Council have received a top-up of ARG funding which can be used to help those businesses who continue to be affected by the 4-week delay to step 4 of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, and the ongoing impact of this.

Funding is aimed at those sectors that had to remain closed due to the delay in easing of restrictions, or those impacted as a result, for example:

  • travel and tourism
  • wedding industries
  • wholesalers
  • events industries
  • freelance and mobile businesses
  • breweries
  • other businesses that may not have had grant funding

You can find full details on the grant and eligible businesses in our Additional Restrictions Grant policy (pdf) 

If you have applied and received funding from the Additional Business Support scheme, you may still be able to apply for more funding under the new ARG scheme.

You will need to provide evidence of how the delay in easing of restrictions has impacted your business as well as your business' ongoing fixed costs.

Applications closed at 5pm on 25 August 2021.

 On 14 June 2021 the government announced that Step 4 of the easing of coronavirus restrictions was being delayed by 4 weeks. Because of this, Essex County Council have provided Harlow Council with further funding to extend the ABS scheme.

The extended scheme will support Harlow businesses that have not been included in the existing national and local coronavirus financial support schemes or where income, including financial support, has been unable to cover business costs, especially as a result of the government’s delay in relaxation of the restrictions.

The funding provides grants of up to £5,000 depending on business size. Under the extended scheme any previous award of ABS funding will count towards this funding cap. 

To be eligible for Additional Business Support, your business must:

  • have been trading on 1 January 2020, before the start of the pandemic
  • have continued to be adversely affected by the pandemic (for example, reductions to customer or sale numbers and reduction in cash flow so that meeting day to day working capital requirements has become unaffordable and unsustainable)
  • be located within Harlow in Essex (no requirement to be occupying rateable premises)
  • have been excluded from accessing other coronavirus financial support schemes or income, including financial support and has been unable to cover fixed costs

You can find full details on the grant and eligible businesses in our Additional Business Support policy (pdf)

Applications for this support closed on 21 July 2021.

Support for businesses during the national lockdown:

  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum - for businesses that have been required to close due to national lockdown from 5 November to 2 December 2020, from 5 January to 15 February 2021 and from 16 February to 31 March 2021.
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) - for businesses in the highest band of local restrictions Tier 3 or Tier 4 which have been required to close during periods of local restrictions.
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) - a discretionary grant scheme to support businesses in Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions that were impacted by the restrictions, but not required to close.
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant (Sector) - for businesses like nightclubs that were required to close on a national basis since 23 March 2020.

You can check if your business is eligible for any of the schemes by reading our policies:

Applications have now closed for all of these support schemes. The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum for the period 16 February to 31 March 2021, closed on 31 May 2021.

This was a grant of up to £6,000 per premises for non-essential retail businesses, and up to £18,000 per premises for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses.

Eligible businesses do not have to apply for this grant, but if you believe your business is eligible and has not received a Restart Grant, you can check your businesses eligibility on GOV.UK

For more information on this scheme, you can read our restart grant policy (pdf)

Applications closed on 30 June 2021.

The government announced £4.6 billion in new lockdown payments to support businesses and protect jobs

There was a one-off top up payment for businesses that had been forced (mandated) to close in the national lockdown from 5 January 2021. 

The one-off top-ups were granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Applications closed on 31 March 2021. All payments have been made to eligible businesses.

For more information on how we issued these payments, read our Harlow closed business lockdown payment policy (pdf)

The Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs supported pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than provide food and had been severely impacted over the festive season due to temporary local restrictions.

Eligible businesses were entitled to a one-off cash grant of £1,000 from their local council in areas under Tier 2 or Tier 3 local restrictions.

Pubs were eligible if they:

  • derive less than 50% of your sales from food (before coronavirus)
  • are in an area subject to Tier 2 or Tier 3 local restrictions since 2 December 2020
  • were trading on 30 November 2020

You can find full details of the eligibility criteria in our Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs policy (pdf)

We sent emails to all publicans in Harlow inviting applications from December 2020.

Applications closed on 28 February 2021. 

The Discretionary Business Grant Scheme aims to support small and micro businesses that are struggling due to the coronavirus shutdown, but are unable to access other government grant funding. The scheme follows guidance from government.

The funding will be used to support small and micro businesses such as:

  • small and micro businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces
  • market traders with fixed ongoing costs
  • properties which are used as bed and breakfast that pay Council Tax instead of business rates
  • charities in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief
  • businesses that service the retail, hospitality and leisure industry but did not qualify for the cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure or Small Business Grant Funding schemes

You can find full details of the eligibility criteria and exclusions in our Discretionary Business Grant Scheme policy (pdf)

The grant application window opened on Friday 3 July and closed at 4pm on Friday 17 July.

We have reviewed all applications and notified you in writing or by email if you are eligible for the grant. We have also notified you if you are ineligible for the grant and the reasons why.

We have administered the two business grant schemes:

  • cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure
  • Small Business Grant Funding

The Small Business Grant Fund provided grants of £10,000 to businesses that had already qualified for small business rate relief. You can get more information on the grant funding scheme on the government website

The cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure provided businesses in these sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property, depending on the rateable value of the property. The grants were only be paid to businesses that were granted extended retail relief and had a property with a rateable value of less than £51,000. You can get more information on the cash grant scheme on the government website

There was no application process for these grants, but from 7 April we contacted all businesses we considered eligible for the grants, either by email (if we have one) or by letter to the billing address we hold on our systems. 

Both schemes closed on 31 August 2020.

For more information, you can read our cash grants and small business grant funding policy (pdf)

The government provided a 12-month business rates holiday to the following businesses in England (the scheme has been expanded to a wider range of businesses with no cap on the property's rateable value):

  • retail, hospitality and leisure
  • nurseries

Eligible businesses will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

You can check eligibility for the retail, hospitality and leisure scheme and eligibility for the nursery scheme on the government website.

Businesses do not need to apply for the holiday. We have updated the business rates system and issued new bills to all eligible businesses.

If you want to view your business rates account to see if relief has been granted, register for a My Revenues and Benefits account

When we processed the relief the government guidance did not exclude the possibility that State Aid would apply. However on 2 April 2020 it was confirmed that the relief is not a State Aid. We revisited the relief and applied it to all remaining businesses where the previous assessment was that State Aid may have applied. 

Government also announced a new retail discount and nurseries discount from 1 April 2021. All eligible ratepayers have been notified.

Running your business safely

All businesses and venues should follow national coronavirus guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Use working safely guidance to keep your workplace COVID-safe.

If your business needs help with carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment, you can use our risk assessment template (docx)

If you run a business with a physical location that is open to the public, you should create and display a QR code. Get visitors to scan the QR code when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app.

Reporting an outbreak

If you run a business, you need to know how to recognise and report an incident of coronavirus. 

Public Health England (PHE) have produced action cards that provide instructions on what to do in the event of one or more confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your organisation. You can download the action cards on the PHE website

More advice

Business support providers can also provide help, on top of government support. They can provide advice covering a range of support topics, including access to finance and loans, existing support grants, training, and business planning. Some key providers are:

You can also join the Harlow Business Forum - a monthly online forum, hosted by Harlow Council and Harlow District Chamber of Commerce which is open to all businesses based in Harlow and the surrounding area and offers the chance to hear from local support organisations and business professionals about the latest news and opportunities. To join the forum email, and to keep up to date with this event and the latest local business news and opportunities follow Harlow Business on Twitter and Facebook