• COVID 19 Business Support

    As we move to the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, updates will be provided on this page designed specifically to support County Durham businesses. Information provided here will include the latest announcements from the government.

    Please make sure you’re following our social media accounts for advice and information on support as it becomes available:

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    £10 million kick-start tourism package

    The Government has announced a new package to support small businesses in tourist destinations.

    Grants of up to £5,000 will be available to help adapt businesses following the pandemic, with funding to be used for specialist professional advice, new technology, equipment, and online systems.

    Announcement details

    Businesses in the countryside and coastal areas – guidance

    The government has provided advice and guidance to support businesses in the countryside and coastal areas to help them welcome visitors back.

    Click to find out more

    Eat Out to Help Out Scheme – promotional materials

    To support businesses taking part in the scheme, a selection of posters, images and other promotional materials are available.  Business must register for the scheme – registration is now open.

    Promotional items

    Summer Statement 2020

    The Chancellor’s statement provided an update on some of the support already announced and introduced some additional measures though details will follow, visit Gov.uk: A plan for jobs 2020 for more information.

    In summary:

    • A one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021
    • A new Kickstart Scheme, a £2 billion fund to create 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24
    • Funding for employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee
    • A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021
    • A £2 billion Green Homes Grant, providing at least £2 for every £1 homeowners and landlords spend to make their homes more energy efficient, up to £5,000 per household
    • A new ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to encourage people to eat out. This will be a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on meals, at any participating restaurant, café, pub or other eligible food service establishment
    • From 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021, to support businesses and jobs in the hospitality sector, the reduced (5%) rate of VAT will apply.  Further guidance on the scope of this relief will be published by HMRC in the coming days.

    Starting a business

    Starting a business can be an exciting process at any time and it always has an element of risk. However, with the right advice and guidance, you can capitalise on new opportunities and reduce some of the risks. Business Durham has developed programmes to help support those who want to establish a new venture or reinvigorate an existing project. To help you find the support you need we have brought all of the links to resources together in one place. You can find everything here 
    This page will link you to the full range of support available to businesses in County Durham.

    The first half of 2020 has been especially challenging for all of us. It has been particularly difficult for entrepreneurs. Business Durham aims to support you and your business as we move into recovery. It may be that you need to re-examine your business structure and you may need to make some difficult decisions as we move ahead, Business Durham endeavours to be your trusted partner, helping you navigate through these uncertain times.

    Supporting businesses through recovery

    Many business support programmes have been repurposed to support businesses come through challenging times due to the COVID19 crisis.

    Digital Drive County Durham
    Fast-tracked funding to purchase IT equipment, SMEs in Co Durham, grant of up to £2000 (40% intervention) for capital equipment, software and consultancy. Digital Drive County Durham offers a programme of digital support for SME’s in County Durham. Businesses can access a range of fully funded resources and activities to help them become more digitally resilient, productive and competitive.
    Click here for more about Digital Drive County Durham

    DBOP (Durham Business Opportunities Programme)
    Helping County Durham businesses grow and prosper by linking them with tangible opportunities, like a new contract, finding new premises, a new supplier or perhaps some investment.
    Click here to find out more about DBOP

    County Durham Growth Fund
    The County Durham Growth Fund was launched in April 2019 and is an £8.9m capital grant scheme for small and medium-sized businesses in County Durham.
    Click here to find out more about the County Durham Growth Fund

    Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP)

    The Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) has been designed to help County Durham SMEs make financial savings through energy efficiency. The Project provides fully funded (zero cost to the participating SME) energy audits which include using smart monitoring equipment and data analysis to provide informed recommendations as to the most cost-effective energy investments available. The Project also offers a Grant fund which can be used to support the purchase of energy-efficient equipment.
    Click here to find out more about BEEP


    Helping businesses to start, grow and succeed, NBSL had grants to support for County Durham businesses through COVID, with £300,000 of funding still available to County Durham Businesses. Join over 3000 small businesses who’ve grown and developed with a grant from the North East Business Support Fund.
    Click here to find out more about NBSL  

    Supply Chain North East

    As the North East responds to the impact and demands of COVID-19, Supply Chain North East is poised to help businesses respond directly to supply chain demands in healthcare. We are also here to ensure that businesses have the right support to help them build resilience and put them on a path back to growth.
    Click here to find out more about Supply Chain North East

    Supply Chain North East Exchange 
    This Exchange has been developed to create a community platform for businesses engaged with the Supply Chain North East support programme to enable inter-trading opportunities between member businesses.
    COVID 19 – If you have a business need in relation to the COVID 19 situation, or if you are able to provide goods or services which may assist the NHS, Care Sector or other businesses, our Opportunities page enables you to promote your offer, or need, within the Supply Chain North East business community.

    North East Growth Hub

    Business programmes are being adapted by the week, and whilst we endeavour to keep the information up to date see also the North East Growth hub for other programmes.

    Redundancies and County Durham JobsFuse

    JobsFuseRestructuring is an inevitable consequence of COVID19, especially during this period of furlough. Help is at hand for employers and employees through the Jobs Fuse service in County Durham. The service is run in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, (DWP) National Careers Service (NCS) and Durham County Council.

    The offer for those at risk of redundancy, or made redundant includes:
    Help with compiling/updating a C.V
    Support with job search including the use of Social media ie., LinkedIn, Twitter
    Interviewing Skills
    Support for those considering self-employment as an option
    Careers Advice & Guidance to include identification of transferable skills
    Job matching – sharing of local opportunities and in some cases matching individuals directly to opportunities we are aware of (BD helps here)
    Access to short job focussed training.
    Advice and information on benefits. How to make a claim and what is expected.
    Money & Pension Advice

    The County Durham Jobs Fuse is a free service which helps employers and job seekers in the area by promoting local vacancies to those who are immediately available to start work.

    Employers affected by the Corona Virus seeking assistance please telephone NCS on 0808 196 3596
    Employees whose jobs have been affected by Corona Virus please telephone NCS 0800 100 900

    Creation of five business-focused groups

    The Government has announced five business-focused groups to support growth and create jobs to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic:

    • The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
    • Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
    • Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
    • Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
    • The UK open for business: How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK

    Click to find out more

    Changes to the Job Retention Scheme

    From 1 July, employers can bring employees back to work who have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

    The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June.

    This means that the final date by which an employer needs to agree with their employee and ensure they place them on furlough is 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

    Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June. Information on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing can be found here  

    Advice for accommodation providers

    The government has updated guidance and advice for businesses providing hotel and other accommodation in England, which can be found here

    Business Rate discretionary grant scheme

    Durham County Council is administering £5 million support for small businesses.

    The government has allocated funding to develop a local grant scheme to help specific businesses who have not be able to access previous schemes.  Your business may be eligible, find out here

    Working safely

    The government has issued guidance on working safely to support the safe reopening of businesses.  This includes 5 steps and 8 sector guides like shops and branches, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, factories, plants and warehouses.

    Find out more


    Support from business representative organisations and trade associations

    A list of organisations for sector-specific information on their websites. Many of these organisations will respond to non-member queries related to coronavirus.  This list does not cover all trade associations and business representatives.

    Click here


    Farmers, landowners and rural businesses

    The latest information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Find out more


    Government guidance

    The Government has produced a range of information tailored to cover various subjects as we recover, here are some of those links:

    Government webinars

    A comprehensive series of webinars have been produced by government covering many topics on supporting businesses, some of the subjects include:

    • Vehicles
    • Construction and other outdoor work
    • Labs and research facilities
    • Offices and contact centres
    • Homes

    To see these and many more click here


    Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

    Applications for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme have opened today.  Those eligible will receive a government grant worth up to £7,500 and money is expected to be in bank accounts by 25 May.  Self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits.




    Click here