Information for businesses during COVID-19

To receive the most up-to-date news for businesses you can sign up to our Business News e-newsletter. For the full national guidelines concerning coronavirus and guidance for businesses, you can view coronavirus information on GOV.UK. This includes information on ways to manage COVID-19 in the workplace and keeping it safe.


Last updated: 27 October 2020

The Government has issued guidance to public bodies (PPN 02/20) relating to payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current COVID-19 outbreak. The council has produced the following letter which sets out the approach we are taking in respect of paying and working with our suppliers during this challenging time.

Also included below is PPN 02/20 and the related FAQs

Government support  

From 5 November 2020, all non-essential shops, leisure and tourism venues, and close contact services (such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons) are required to close by law. Bars, pubs and restaurants must stay closed except for delivery or takeaway services. We'll update this page as and when restrictions change.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

There is a new ‘Workers Support’ package to help pay people’s wages. Employers who cannot cover staff costs can apply to HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of ‘retained’ employees who are not working which will enable them to be kept on the payroll rather than being laid off or made redundant.

The support package means:

  • Employers can apply for a grant to cover 80 per cent of a ‘retained’ employee’s wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month
  • Support will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and will be available for at least 3 months and will be extended if necessary
  • The scheme will be available to all employers across the UK including charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme

See more information and how to apply

Bounce Back loans

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.

See more information and how to apply

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

If you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) use this scheme if you're eligible to claim the grant.

See more information and how to apply

Further information

You can read the Government's information about the support available including grant funding, statutory sick pay measures, and reliefs on business rates. There is also guidance for employers and businesses including how you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and what to do if an employee becomes ill. 

Outdoor seating licence  

Last updated: 12 August 2020

To help with the post lockdown recovery of the hospitality sector, businesses can now apply for outdoor seating in a much quicker and cost-effective way. Southampton City Council is working in partnership with GO!Southampton to create more opportunities for outdoor dining. The initiative includes extending existing seating areas and introducing new ones but also opening up outdoor areas of the city for businesses that currently have no outdoor space.

To make things easier, the Government has introduced the Planning Business Act 2020 which caps the application fee for a pavement licence at £100 and reduces the minimum consultation period to seven days. The existing Tables and Chairs Consent continues its 28 days consultation period.

Essentially there are now two ways to apply for a licence for outdoor seating:

Paying the council during COVID-19  

If you can’t pay us your council tax, business rates, commercial rents or any other council bill, please get in touch to look at what options we have to support you. You can also read the information above about government support. For a temporary period until the end of May 2020 we suspended all recovery action to reduce the pressure you are experiencing and to give you time to get support e.g. from the Government’s furlough scheme and business grants. Now other support is available, from 1 June 2020 we will be starting recovery action again.

We still want to support you as much as we can and know that you may still be struggling financially because of Coronavirus. So we will be talking to you about affordable payment options that are based on your personal circumstances. We will be using a mixture of phone calls, letters and texts. We will avoid taking more formal action as much as we possibly can.

For those paying commercial rents please contact your case worker in the Customer Payment and Debt Team.

Building control  

  • Building control surveyors are working remotely but are available on their mobile phones and email – view contact details
  • All new building regulation applications should be submitted electronically at Submit-a-Plan
  • Site inspection requests will be risk assessed to determine whether a site visit is safe and necessary or whether compliance can be determined by alternative means such as photographic evidence

GO! Southampton  

All of GO! Southampton’s patrolling services such as their ranger, cleaning and security teams are continuing to operate and are available to assist their member businesses. Visit GO! Southampton for the latest information.

Looking after wellbeing 

As a manager or business owner you’ll be dealing with a lot business concerns as well as personal ones. Even so, your staff will still be looking to you for leadership. How you communicate, manage, motivate and support them now will affect how they cope with these changed times. It will also impact current and future business performance.

Wellbeing@Work gives information and links to help you to support staff health, wellbeing, motivation and performance so they can support your business.

You can find information and links, and sign up to our e-newsletter, on the Wellbeing@Work webpages.

Cash grants  

Last updated: 1 April 2021

Southampton City Council moved to the government’s new national lockdown restrictions on 5 January 2021.

All non-essential retail, hospitality and personal care services must close, or remain closed. Restaurants can continue delivery, takeaway or click-and-collect of food and non-alcoholic drinks, but venues will no longer be able to serve takeaway or click-and-collect alcohol.

Essential shops and garden centres can remain open. Entertainment venues and animal attractions such as zoos must close, but the outdoor areas of venues such as heritage homes and botanical gardens can remain open, to be used for exercise. Playgrounds may also remain open.

Indoor and outdoor sports facilities including sports courts, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools, and riding arenas must also close. Elite sport and disabled sport can continue, as can PE lessons for those children attending school.

Find out more information on the national lockdown measures on the GOV.UK website. 

Restart Grants

In the budget on 3rd March 2021 the government announced they will provide ‘restart grants’ in England of up to £6,000 per premises for non essential retail businesses and up to £18,000 per premises for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, gym and personal care businesses.

The primary principle of the Restart Grant scheme is to support businesses that offer in-person services, where the main service and activity takes place in a fixed rate-paying premises, in the relevant sectors.

More information on Restart Grants

Local Restrictions Support Grants (Closed) Addendum: national lockdown payment for the period 16 February 2021 – 31 March 2021 (44 days)

  • Scheme closes 31 May 2021
  • Final payments made by 30 June 2021

Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on the date of the commencement of the widespread national restrictions will receive a payment of £2,096 per 44-day qualifying restriction period.

Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on the date of the commencement of the widespread national restrictions will receive a payment of £3,143 per 44-day qualifying restriction period.

Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or above on the commencement date of the widespread national restrictions, will receive a payment £4,714 per 44-day qualifying restriction period.

Due to the volume of grant applications we have received and associated correspondence we kindly ask that you do not contact this office to chase these payments, we aim to contact you in the week commencing the 1 March 2021 with more information.

If you have not applied for the Local Restrictions Support Grants (CLOSED):

The Government is providing grants to businesses required to close in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. You must have business rating liability and be proving ‘in person services’ from your business premises.

To simplify the application process, we have created one application form. All you need to do is apply once and tell us the earliest date you were required to close, and we’ll use your application to assess your eligibility against the LSRG (CLOSED).

If you have already received a payment, please do not complete more applications.

Stay up to date with the latest grant and business information by signing up to our business mailing list.

Apply online for Local Restriction Support Grant

Local Restrictions Support Grants (CLOSED) for the period 5 November 2020 – 15 February 2021)

Key points:

  • Scheme closed 31 March 2021
  • Final payments made by 30 April 2021
  • Local Restrictions Support Grants (CLOSED) up to the 15 February 2021

Additional Restrictions Grant

This scheme is to provide support for those businesses that have been directly and adversely impacted by the new national restrictions effective from 5 January 2021 and are not being supported via the Local Restrictions Support Grant.

The purpose of this scheme is to support those businesses that have been most impacted by the local restrictions. Hospitality, hotel, bed & breakfast and leisure businesses should apply to the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open).

Please note this scheme is only open to eligible businesses. You are advised to carefully read the Additional Restrictions policy to ensure your business is eligible. If your business is not eligible you should not apply as your submission will automatically rejected and cannot be appealed.

If you have already applied to the Local Restrictions Support Grant you should not apply to this scheme. All submissions will be cross referenced. You can download the Additional Restrictions and Local Restrictions Support Grant policy.

Apply online for Additional Restrictions Grant

Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs (available to open wet-led pubs and closed wet-led pubs)

On 1 December 2020, the Government announced the introduction of additional support over the festive period for wet-led pubs in areas under Tier 2 or 3 restrictions. View full scheme guidance.

Key points:

  • Scheme closed 28 February 2021
  • The grant is a flat rate of £1,000
  • Pubs that derive less than 50% of their income from food sales will be eligible to receive funding through this grant scheme (available to open wet-led pubs and closed wet-led pubs)
  • For these purposes, the definition of a pub should exclude: restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, hotels, snack bars, guesthouses, boarding houses, sporting venues, music venues, festival sites, theatres, museums, exhibition halls, cinemas, concert halls and casinos
  • Businesses must have been trading on 30 November 2020 (the day before this scheme was announced) to be eligible to receive funding under this scheme. Where local restrictions are preceded by national ‘lockdown’ measures, requiring the closure of businesses that are otherwise eligible, it is accepted that those businesses are still trading

Applications for Local Restrictions Support Grants (Open) for the period (for the period 2 December 2020 - 25 December 2020). This is a discretionary scheme.

This scheme closed on 31 January 2021.

If your business needs support and you are not being supported via the Local Restriction Support Grant then please read about the Additional Restriction Grant scheme below to see if you are eligible to apply for financial support.