COVID-19: Government announces range of new measures to help businesses

PUBLISHED: 21 March 2020

Date issued: 21 March 2020

The Government announced a package of measures last night (Friday) designed to help businesses in Colchester and across the country mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect jobs.

The announcement also includes further steps to help some of the most vulnerable in the community.

Among the Government measures outlined are:

  • A Job Retention Scheme – support to help all UK employers help pay salaries for workers who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for at least three months
  • Government grants covering 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month. The Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for at least three months
  • making the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme interest free for 12 months rather the six months as originally announced
  • VAT payments – deferred for a quarter, meaning business will not pay VAT until the end of June and will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills
  • Universal Credit and the Working Tax Credits increased by £1,000 a year

The details of the announcement will be added to the council’s new digital information directory launched yesterday (Friday 20 March) to help signpost businesses across the borough to vital information to mitigate the impact of advice to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses can access the latest advice and information about the range of help available by visiting  the council’s digital directory at This forms part of the council’s online COVID-19 information at

The council is also setting up a special telephone line for businesses wanting to get a greater understanding of the help and support on offer through business rates reliefs and grants. Any companies wanting advice can call 01206 282333

Councillor David King, Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, said: “It is crucial that businesses large and small are given the support they desperately need. We want to ensure they make it through this crisis. We want to ensure their staff can keep their jobs and get paid.

“We will play our part to ensure businesses across the borough are aware of the range of support available. We are working with partners to ensure they understand that support that is available. We urge businesses to call us if they need to. 

“These are tough times unprecedented in our lifetimes.  We will do all we can to support our residents and businesses through them, so that we are in as strong a position as possible when we start to rebuild our national and local economies once this crisis is over.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Mark Cory, added: “This is an ever-changing situation, but we will do all we can to ensure businesses get to grips with the measures announced by the Government.

“I would urge all companies to keep checking our website pages for further updates. We must help all businesses to support their workers so that they can stay at home. All but key workers should now follow strict social distancing.”

Page last reviewed: 21 March 2020


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