There is a huge range of support and advice available to businesses – some of it is generic, some of it very specific. The links below should take you to useful organisations that will be able to deal with most of your queries.
COVID-19 - Advice for Businesses
This is a confusing and disturbing time for everyone but businesses are facing particular difficulties. However, there is some support and practical advice available. Please use the links below to access up-to-date information from reliable sources.
Local Authority Discretionary Grant Scheme
The second round of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Scheme is now open for applications. Follow the link to check eligibility requirements and to access the application form. The scheme has been extended by the Council and will now close on Monday, June 29 at 9am.
NOTE: This grant funding is for businesses that are not eligible for other support schemes. Businesses that have received cash grants from any central government COVID-related scheme are ineligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund, apart from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. You are not eligible to apply for this grant if you/ your business is based at home, you operate a mobile business or your business is based mainly on online trade/sales.
Business Support Grants
In order to assist businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak, the government has announced two grant funds.
The Small Business Rate Grant Fund (SBGF) is applicable to any business which was in receipt of Small Business Rates or Rural Rate Relief on 11 March, 2020. This will pay £10,000.
The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG) is payable to qualifying businesses with rateable values under £51,000. Business with a rateable value £15,000 and under will receive £10,000. For businesses with a rateable value of over £15,000 but under £51,000, a grant of £25,000 is available.
Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property. Recipients cannot receive both SBGF and RHLG on the same property. Please note that certain exclusions apply. See business guidelines for details
The Business Rates Team has written to all businesses that we believe are eligible for a business support grant. If you receive a letter from them, you will need to complete a Coronavirus Business Support Grant application (link below). This will ensure that we have all of the information needed to release funds promptly. If you are an eligible business which has completed the application form and has not yet received payment, it it is possible that there is a query with your application, in which case the Business Rates Team will be in contact with you in due course.
Funds will only be transferred by BACS payment and can take up to three working days to reach your account. We will not be able to process payments until you have completed the Coronavirus Support Grant Application.
If you have not received a letter and believe your business should be entitled to a grant, you should e-mail Business Rates and a member of the team will contact you. Please do not call the Business Rates team directly as they will not be able to deal with your query any sooner.
Further guidance is available from the Gov.uk website (external site).
Small Business Rate Relief
The Council will shortly be issuing revised Business Rates bills for any businesses that are affected by the recent changes to Small Business Rate Relief scheme.
You do not need to do anything regarding these changes - all qualifying businesses will be re-billed as soon as possible. If you have any queries regarding your revised bill once you have received it, please e-mail e-mail Business Rates.
Other Support Information
Please check back regularly for updates - information is changing daily.
The Government's Bounce Back Loan scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there will be no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders. You can apply for a loan if your business is based in the UK, has been negatively affected by coronavirus and was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019.
A range of business support measures have been made available to UK businesses and employees. BusinessSupport.gov.uk provides information on how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply (external site).
Emergency Grant Scheme for Staffordshire’s Micro Businesses -Staffordshire County Council have launched a limited £500,000 businesses fund, to support micro-businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic. This grant fund is targeted at small, micro and one person businesses that are not eligible for the grants and rate relief packages offered by the government. A total of £500,000 is available, with the maximum grant being £1,000. The grants will be awarded to eligible applicants on a first-come-first-served basis. Visit Staffordshire Means Emergency Business for more information on who is eligible and how to apply.
A useful fact sheet for retail businesses has been produced by the Chamber which outlines a range of potential support available in these difficult times.
Self-employment Income Support Scheme will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. NB: You cannot apply for this scheme yet. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online. You must have submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19 by 23 April 2020. In the interim the self-employed will still able eligible for other government support including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans.
COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses - Guidance to assist employers and businesses in providing advice to their staff (external site). You can also sign up for a regular COVID 19 update bulletin straight to your inbox from the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
ACAS advice for employers and employees on self-isolation and sick pay, flexible working, closing the workplace and more (external site).
Sadly, criminals are exploiting current fears related to COVID 19. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has advice on how to ensure your organisation is prepared for an increase in home working, and advice on spotting coronavirus scam emails.
The Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Growth Hub is also able to offer guidance on Government support for business, including interruption loan schemes and grants. Sign up for their regular newsletter containing up-to-date advice on a variety of business matters, including COVID 19 information (external site). Call 0300 111 8002 or e-mail business enquiries .
Advice for tourism and event businesses affected by COVID-19 can be found on the Visit Britain website (external site).
Note: Events listed below are set up by external organisations. A mention here does not imply endorsement by the Council.
Due the current COVID 19 advice from government regarding events and meetings, this section is suspended until further notice.
General business advice
The Stoke and Staffordshire Business Helpline is a good first point of contact for any queries relating to business advice. Tel: 0300 111 8002 or e-mail business enquiries
Another general site for information about running and growing a business is the Great Business website.
If you are looking to take your business to the next stage and need help with any aspect, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce run a business mentor scheme which can provide experts in a variety of fields to work with your business on the issues where you need help.
If you are thinking about starting your own business, see the information on the ‘Business Start up’ page.
Specific help for...
Innovation and diversification (products and services)
The Business Innovation Centre (BIC) provides advice and support for innovative ideas from all business sectors. It also runs a range of innovation workshops throughout the year.
The Innovative Product Support Service programme supports existing small businesses through the early stages of developing a new product or process aiming to bring it closer to the market. Examples of the type of funded support include: Product Design, Engineering analysis, Market Research, Intellectual Property Advice, Electronics Development, Commercial Reviews, New Product Development & Planning, Development & Implementation of Sensor Technologies. For further information please contact Project Manager Mike Shields on 01902 321105 or e-mail Mike Shields.
The Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships (SDIPs) programme is designed to drive transformation through digital innovation in the region. The programme will create 36 Partnerships between Staffordshire SMEs and Staffordshire University. Projects will improve business processes and support the development of new to market products and services through the use of innovative digital technologies. There are three strands - Digital Innovation Partnerships (DIPs) supporting development of new processes, services or products; Business Intelligence Partnerships (BIPs) helping businesses to unlock the power of the data they collect; Social Challenge Innovation Partnerships (SCIPs) focussing on prototype solutions to social challenges
The Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP) brings academics, professionals and students from Keele University together with local businesses to develop new products, services and processes. The second phase will enable a further 200 local businesses to be supported between June 2019 and December 2021. To find out how your business can benefit, contact 01782 733001 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"Businesses who understand the environment are businesses with bright futures" according to the Staffordshire Business & Environment Network (SBEN). SBEN provides a range of services to businesses to help improve competitiveness, profitability and environmental performance.
All businesses produce waste in various quantities. However, no matter how much is generated from commercial premises it is classified as trade waste. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 a person that requests the collection of waste other than from a domestic household is liable to pay a reasonable charge for the collection and disposal of the waste to the organisation which arranges for its collection. Find out more about trade waste collection services from the Council.
Training, apprentices and other human resource issues
Training courses for businesses from Newcastle-under-Lyme College.
Fully funded training courses to help your business grow are available through Skills Support for the Workforce. Eligibility criteria apply but both basic skills and higher level skills are included in the programme. For more information contact skills support.
Learndirect business offers a range of courses for your staff, leading to nationally recognised qualifications. You can also assess your leadership and management skills and create your own tailored plan for personal development.
Explore ways of improving the effectiveness of your security and crime prevention arrangements with the Secured by Design interactive guide.
Businesses in and around Newcastle town centre may be interested in joining the Partnership Against Business Crime (PABC) a unique partnership dedicated to reducing the impact and cost of crime against businesses in both daytime and night time economies.
The Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme offers a first class location for your business, whatever its size. Excellent communication links, a mixed land and property portfolio and a great quality of life adds up to a superb opportunity for the future of your business. The Council has different types of property and land available and a range of sizes to accommodate businesses in different stages of growth. Details of other land and premises available in the area, using an interactive database, can be found on the 'Make it Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire' website.
For additional information to help with investment decisions, for example area profiles and census data, details about local education establishments, see the ‘Useful Links’ section.
Health and Safety Issues
The Environmental Health team make over 800 pest control visits each year to local businesses, including factories, offices, shops and school. They regularly treat ant infestations, wasps’ nests and control rats and mice for commercial clients.
Certain workplace injuries, accidents and dangerous occurrences must be reported to the relevant health and safety enforcing authorities. These accidents are called ‘reportable’, and can now be reported directly to the HSE Incident Contact Centre.
Sector specific support
Destination Staffordshire is a dynamic partnership of visitor attractions, accommodation, eating establishments, artists, tourism businesses and councils that are working together to drive tourism in Staffordshire. Working in partnership with Winning Moves they are able to offer a specialised package of support for tourism businesses in Staffordshire.
Exclusively for small to medium tourism businesses across Staffordshire, the programme will provide tailored support for businesses to help improve your bottom line. Eligible businesses will have access to services under the programme including 1-2-1 consultancy, as well as a series of inspirational workshops and masterclasses that will give you practical tips and actions that you can apply in your business straight away. Check out Destination Staffordshire Support for Tourism Businesses delivered by Winning Moves Ltd for the full programme.
The creative sector continues to grow and develop in the area. Factory is Staffordshire’s dedicated business support programme for the creative sector, delivered through a series of bespoke support activities including: one to one business advice & guidance, business development workshops, sector driven events, networking opportunities, experienced mentors, tradeshow exposure and competitive market intelligence to help drive your business forward.
The Rural Enterprise Programme operates across Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire’s rural areas which includes a large part of Newcastle-under-Lyme borough, grant applications for Rural Enterprise Programme are now closed.
Medical technology and healthcare businesses
Opportunities, events and networking for medical and non-medical companies wanting to grow their business from Medilink West Midlands.
Professional and business services
Finest - The North Staffordshire professional services network.
Town centre businesses
Businesses in and around Newcastle town centre have recently voted in favour of making the town a Business Improvement District (BID). This will generate around £280,000 a year for the next five years which will be used to fund activity identified in the business plan. The Newcastle BID website provides information about the BID and details of the support activities available for town centre businesses.
Food related businesses
Confused about the implications of Brexit on your business. Bresilience.com has been developed by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce to provide companies with information, resources and a detailed checklist to help understand the issues surrounding international trade after Brexit. It’s also a resource with the latest news and details on planning international business needs post-Brexit, at both the operational and boardroom levels.
When problems arise
If you feel your business is getting into financial difficulties, contact the Stoke and Staffordshire business helpline as soon as possible on 0300 111 8002 or e-mail business enquiries to be put in contact with organisations that may be able to help you.
If you are struggling to pay rent, talk to your landlord as soon as you realise this is an issue - they may be willing to offer more favourable terms. For issues with rates contact the Council's business rates team on 01782 715500
Last updated 16 June 2020