Reopening your business

If you are reopening your business, read the government guidance on how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic

To help find out what your business needs to do, you can use the government's reopening safely tool

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

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


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.

As a local authority, we are involved in administering the following government schemes:

  • Discretionary Business Grant Scheme
  • cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure
  • Small Business Grant Funding
  • business rates holidays (including the expanded retail relief scheme)

Discretionary Business Grant Scheme

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 will review all applications and notify you in writing or by email if you are eligible for the grant. We will also notify you if you are ineligible for the grant and the reasons why.

We will contact you shortly after the closing date.

Cash grants and Small Business Grant Funding

We are administering the two business grant schemes:

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

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

The cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure will provide 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 will only be paid to businesses that are granted extended retail relief and have a property with a rateable value of less than £51,000. You can check eligibility and get more information on the cash grant scheme on the government website

If your business has already received Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) (this will be shown on your 2020 to 2021 bill), it will qualify for the Small Business Grant of £10,000.

For businesses that fall into the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that did not qualify for SBRR they will qualify for a cash grant of either £10,000 or £25,000 - subject to eligibility criteria and property rateable value.

Only one grant can be paid per property under the government schemes.

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

We are contacting businesses because we need to get certain details as part of the grant process. Businesses will need to complete our online form to provide us with the details we need to verify and pay the grant.

Warning text

You will only be able to complete this form if you have received an email or letter from Harlow Council telling you that you are entitled to the grant.

Please check your emails and postal address we use for your business rates bills to make sure there is not a delay in you accessing the form and ultimately the payment to your business. 

If making contact with businesses to confirm the details proves difficult under the current circumstances then it could create a delay in payments being processed or the payment method may be changed.

If you have not received an email or letter and believe you should be entitled to the grant, email explaining why you think you are eligible and we will get back to you.

These grants will be subject to State Aid limits.

Business rate holidays

The government have 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 now updated the business rates system and are issuing new bills to all eligible businesses this week (30 March 2020).

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 will revisit the relief and will now apply it to all remaining businesses where the previous assessment was that State Aid may have applied. We expect this work will be delayed whilst the government grant schemes detailed below are being dealt with, but any payments that have been made by eligible businesses will be refunded as quickly as possible and new bills will also be issued.

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: