Support for Businesses, Self-Employment and Charities


The Ways2Work Network is a community of education, support and training organisations keeping each other updated about opportu

See Bristol City Council’s Coronavirus Business Support page for a comprehensive list of support for your business.

BCC Coronavirus Business Support

Organisations that are offering information, resources and support to different sectors include

Voscur has announced that all their services will be free until the end of April 2020. They also have a lot of resources on their website (select ‘coronavirus’ from the dropdown).

nities for supporting people in Bristol and the West of England into work. This enables course providers to advertise their skills or support to case workers who can then refer people to the best provision available.

The Employment Support team at Bristol City Council achieve this through daily and weekly emails, social media, this website, networking meetings and jobs fairs and other events across the West of England.

Our latest updates page will keep you updated with current training opportunities, jobs fairs and more.

If you would like to receive email updates, see below for details on how to sign up. We are happy to send out information on any opportunities or vacancies you would like publicised. Please send any jobs or training information to and as long as it’s relevant we will circulate it for you.

From Items of Interest

Updated 19/05

Business Support

  • Earlier this week HMRC began contacting people who may be eligible for the UK Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits), paid in a single instalment; more here.
  • Up to £600m of repurposed money from the National Lottery is being made available to charities and organisations affected by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The funding, spanning the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors, will be distributed over the next few months to help projects most impacted by coronavirus and which support some of the most vulnerable; more here.
  •  Business in the Community’s National Business Response Network is a platform to connect business to urgent local community need across the UK during the Covid-19 crisis. If you’re a business who can help or a community group who needs help please get in touch here.
  • The UK Government’s new 100% government backed loan scheme for small business is now live. Through the Bounce Back loan scheme, Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days, and loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, with an online application process through a short and simple form; more from the official site here, and further guidance from Enterprise Nation here.
  • Following a UK Government announcement late last week, a discretionary fund is being set up for certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the coronavirus business grant funds schemes. This additional fund – with grants of up to £25,000 – is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs and will prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. Full details of the scheme are to be confirmed by UK Government, and BCC will communicate more on it in due course; more here.
  • An emergency business resilience support service in Bristol is now live, providing assistance to micro businesses (less than 10 employees), including the self-employed/freelancers, in business sectors/activities across the city facing particular difficulty as a result of the current coronavirus lock-down. The website can be accessed here, or phone the helpline 0800 917 9324 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri) or email
  • The UK Government is hosting a series of live webinars on aspects of business support available during the coronavirus outbreak. A number of YouTube videos are also available; more here.
  • Power to Change, the independent trust that supports community businesses in England, is launching up to £12 million of emergency support to provide both immediate and medium-term help for community businesses facing a loss of trading income during the coronavirus crisis; read more here.
  • Business can source social distancing advice posters for their premises here and here
  • The University of Bristol is considering running a series of short (one hour) online courses, at least one being on the theme of retailing and consumer behaviour in uncertain times. Initial feedback from our business impact survey (which, if you haven’t already done so, you can take here) suggests that there is an appetite for this type of support in the context of economic recovery from the pandemic, and in terms for instance of marketing and advertising. Please let us know if you think this would be useful and whether you’d be likely to participate, and we will continue to work on the proposal with the University.
  • The UK Government has announced a new 100% government backed loan scheme for small business. Going live on Monday 4 May, businesses will be able to borrow between 2,000 and 50,000 and access the cash within days, and loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, with an online application process through a short and simple form; more here.
  • Please note that the Ocean fund offering advertising support to retailers and SMEs most severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis, mentioned in the last bulletin, is currently closed. There is a possibility that registration for it will reopen, and anybody interested is advised to follow Ocean on Twitter; more here.
  • The UK Government has recently announced new measures to protect the UK high street from aggressive rent collection and closure. High street shops and other companies under strain will be protected from aggressive rent collection and asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic; more here.
  • Advertising company Ocean has launched a 10m fund to offer advertising support to the retailers and SMEs most severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis. It will give businesses and brands access to advertising space across Ocean screens in 12 UK cities, including Bristol; further details here.
  • Better By Bike has been dropping off its fleet of bikes to NHS Key Workers across Bristol to help them get to work. Watch the video here and if you are or know a key worker interested in a free loan bike visit the Better By Bike website for more info here. And Sustrans have launched an interactive map for key workers across the UK, which shows offers and discounts that they’re able to access at bike shops; more here.
  • An emergency business resilience support service in Bristol is now live, providing assistance to micro businesses (less than 10 employees), including the self-employed/freelancers, in business sectors/activities across the city facing particular difficulty as a result of the current coronavirus lock-down. The website can be accessed here, or phone the helpline 0800 917 9324 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri) or email
  • Bristol City Council is carrying out a short survey of the city’s businesses and organisations to gain a more detailed understanding of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While we fully appreciate this is a challenging time, any information you provide will help inform any future business support we might develop, either as a council, or with partner organisations, to work alongside that offered by the UK Government. You can access the survey here, and please circulate amongst your networks. With thanks to those who have already contributed.
  • SETsquared Bath is continuing to support SME and startup companies virtually through the ERDF Business Acceleration Hubs (BAH) – the Sustainable Technologies BAH, Advanced Engineering BAH and Digital Innovation BAH. Companies from across the West of England innovating within these sectors can therefore continue to take advantage of the free support available; click here for more.
  • Read Mayor Marvin Rees’ recent blog on how businesses are being supported during the COVID-19 outbreak here.
  • The UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme officially opened today (20 April); further details here.
  • And a new package of funding tailored for firms in some of the most dynamic sectors of the UK economy – ranging from tech to life sciences – will help them through the current crisis so they can continue to develop innovative new products. The package includes a new 500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms called the Future Fund, and 750 million of targeted support for SMEs focusing on research and development; more here.
  • The UK Government has issued guidance for various sectors on social distancing in the workplace during the current outbreak; more here.
  • And the UK Government has published a list of the rules that have been temporarily relaxed to make it easier for businesses to continue working through the disruption caused by COVID-19. The list includes annual leave, delivery driver’s hours, filing accounts and annual statements, and destroying spoilt beer; read more here.
  • Are you an early stage social enterprise looking to make your business more resilient and increase your trading potential? Could you use a match trading cash grant of up to 4k for your business? Then the School for Social Entrepreneurs/Lloyds Bank Trade Up Programme may be for you. Further details, including how to join virtual information sessions before applying, here. Application deadline Thursday 30 April.
  • See a flowchart designed (by a financial services company based in Cornwall) to help find the support available to people in the current situation, depending on their employment status – employee; self-employed/partnership; director.
  • The UK Government has announced that certain businesses must close during the current COVID-19 outbreak; please see the guidance here. Please ensure your business complies to limit the spread of the virus. Should you have concerns about businesses not following this guidance or general guidance on social distancing in the workplace please contact or call 0117 9222500 to report issues.
  • Guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – for both employers and employees – has recently been updated. It includes: more detailed information on scheme eligibility; further information on the employees you can claim for; further information on how to calculate a claim; and clarification of what constitutes wages. Click here and here for more.
  • And Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network with of over 750 companies in membership –  have launched the National Business Response Network, a platform to connect business to urgent local community need across the UK during the Covid-19 crisis. If you’re a business who can help or a community group who needs help please get in touch here.
  • The UK Government announced yesterday a financial package for the charity sector; read more here, and further guidance for the sector here.
  • Bristol Food Network has created a dedicated COVID-19 section on its website, including updates on how the network is responding to the outbreak; click here to view it.
  • Enterprise Nation have partnered with Crowdfunder to enable small businesses to pre-sell services now to help trade through the Coronavirus crisis; find out more here.
  • The UK Government has announced its package for the self-employed – the Self-employment Income Support Scheme; find out how to claim here.
  • If you think the impact of COVID-19 will cause delays in filing your company accounts you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension. You must apply for the extension before your filing deadline; more here.
  • Avon & Somerset Police have issued guidance on keeping empty commercial property secure during the current situation; see here.
  • The 5m Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business. In conjunction with cash grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future; more here.
  • The UK Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme aims to make it easier for businesses and homes to get future-proof gigabit-ready broadband. Vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable connection. Businesses can claim up to 5k against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth 500 as part of a group project. But the offer is time-limited; businesses can find out more here. There’s never been a better time to take advantage
  • HMRC has produced a video to help you learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus. You can also register for live and recorded webinars; more here.
  • Food redistribution organisations across England will benefit from 25m of government funding to help them cut food waste and redistribute up to 14,000 tonnes of surplus stock during the coronavirus outbreak. All food redistribution businesses and charities will be encouraged to bid for grants over the coming month, including those whose volunteer programmes have been affected by social distancing measures or those that cannot access their usual commercial support network; more here.

Information hubs

  • Following a webinar last month, the Sustainable Restaurant Association via its Food Made Good website has published a guide for the food service sector on how to reopen right; more here.
  • Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, have been compiling regional and national lists of platforms selling and delivering products and produce from small food organisations, and a webpage with useful resources for food enterprises wanting to move/sell/deliver online; more here and here.
  • The UK Government has updated its coronavirus guidance for apprentices, employers and training providers; more here.
  • Visit Bristol has a list of restaurants, cafes, bars, breweries and tea rooms delivering food and drink to the city’s homes; view it here.
  • The UK Government’s High Street Taskforce’s website has a range of resources, including a four-stage coronavirus recovery framework for impacted towns and cities here, and a short podcast from Professor Cathy Parker reflecting on the challenges of a return to high streets here.
  • View a range of information for retailers from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) here.
  • Visit the new Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) employment and benefits support website here to keep up to date with the latest guidance and messages on sick pay, existing benefit claims, new claims to benefit, self-employment, housing and more.
  • Click here for an official list of business representative organisations and trade associations providing coronavirus related support for specific sectors; and here for a UK Government-compiled list of organisations outside government offering support for businesses.
  • Voscur have created a digest of coronavirus emergency grants available in the voluntary sector, which is being regularly updated; view it here.
  • Information for businesses relating to COVID-19 – including links to the latest UK Government guidance – can be found on BCC’s website here.
  • Tech Nation has a Coronavirus info hub for tech businesses on its website. It includes the dedicated email addresses the UK Government have set up that businesses in a position to can use to help with vaccines, ventilators and innovative solutions; more here.
  • In light of the COVID-19 situation, Bristol Media are compiling positive news and a variety of offers of support to help businesses and individuals through these testing times; click here for more. Bristol Media are also offering free advertising on their Jobs board for local businesses who are offering a short-term or freelance role for people working within the creative industries (until the end of April, perhaps longer depending on how the situation progresses).
  • Visit the FSB’s regularly updated Coronavirus Advice & Guidance Hub here.
  • Click here for a list of business representative bodies offering support, together with other potential sources of help available during the COVID-19 outbreak, compiled by the UK Government.
  • Here is a compilation of the support available to businesses, the self-employed and individuals put together by Bristol City Council.
  • The Money and Pensions Service has added specific pages to its website which will be constantly monitored and updated to provide direct guidance to the public about money in general and then more specific financial guidance and actions that people can take to help themselves as the current situation develops; click here and here.
  • And Business West has an extensive Q&A list relating to COVID-19 here.
  • Charity Bank has a COVID-19 Resource Hub for Charities and Social Enterprises; view it here.
  • Following its most recent (virtual) meeting, the Bristol@Night Panel have produced a list of sources of support for those involved in the night time economy; see here.