A Guide to Applying for UK Government Support

This guide provides information on how the UK government is providing support to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how that aid can be accessed.

This is an exceptionally difficult time for businesses across the UK. Many are experiencing drops in demand, disruptions to cash flow, and the sudden need to establish an online presence. The government quickly recognised these challenges and stepped in to ensure that businesses can access the financial support they need during this unprecedented crisis.

The government has announced a set of temporary, targeted measures to support small and medium-sized businesses facing the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19. This includes different financial schemes to give businesses an infusion of cash through loans and grants, paying salaries for furloughed workers, providing support for self-employed individuals, and helping business owners manage tax payments.

Following advocacy by the startup sector, supported by Stripe, the UK government has recently announced additional measures designed to provide support to startups and other innovative companies.

This guide highlights these measures and other schemes we think are most relevant for small businesses right now. We will continue to update the guide as new measures are announced.

Providing liquidity through loans and grants

For startups and scaleups that are ineligible for other government support schemes

The Government has launched a new investment fund—the Future Fund—to provide loans for innovative UK companies that have been unable to access funds from previously announced government schemes. Government loans must be matched by equal or greater investment from private sources.

The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and provide loans of between £125,000 and £5 million. These loans will be converted into equity on the next qualifying funding round or at the end of the term if the loan is not repaid.

The scheme will launch in May and run through to September. The loans involved will mature no later than three years after they are agreed.


Your business must:

If you are applying as a non-UK jurisdiction parent company, the company must also meet the following criteria:

For non-UK companies, to protect public funds, all applications will be assessed against UK government investment standards on specific jurisdictions.

For more details around the eligibility of investors please see the British Business Bank website.

How to apply

The British Business Bank operates the Future Fund through its Future Fund Portal. This is an investor-led scheme and so the Lead Investor applies on behalf of itself, the company and any other investors.

For small- and medium-sized businesses seeking smaller loans quickly

The Government has launched a new ‘micro loan’ scheme—the Bounce Back Loan scheme—to provide loans of between £2,000 and £50,000 to small businesses. Businesses can apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan online through a two page self-certification form. The scheme is designed to have the funds in your account within days.

The scheme is delivered through a network of accredited lenders, with the Government providing lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan and paying any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.


Your business must:

Businesses that do not qualify for the new loan scheme include certain financial, public sector and educational institutions, as well as businesses that have already received a loan under CBILS (larger loans up to £5 million)—although loans of up to £50,000 can be transferred to the Bounce Back Loan scheme up until 4th November as agreed with the lender.

How to apply

The British Business Bank operates BBLS via accredited lenders listed on its website. You should approach a lender directly, ideally via its website.

You will need to fill in a short application form online, which self-certifies that your business is eligible under BBLS.

Full rules and guidance on how to apply are available on the British Business Bank website.

For businesses that make less than £45 million in gross revenue

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides up to £5 million for smaller businesses across the UK that are experiencing cash flow issues due to lost or late revenue. You can apply for financing in the form of loans, overdrafts, asset finance and invoice finance from banks and other lenders. The government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any fees from the lender, so you have no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

Loans smaller than £250,000 can be approved without a personal guarantee. For loans larger than £250,000, personal guarantees are capped at 20% of the outstanding balance.

This scheme provides the lender with a government-based guarantee, which could potentially make lenders more likely to approve credit decisions. However, it’s important that you are aware that you, the borrower, will remain 100% liable for the loan. The CBILS guarantee is to the lender, not you.

This scheme went live on 23 March and will initially run for six months.


Your business must:

(A separate scheme has been established for larger businesses: the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility. Information about this scheme, including eligibility, is available on the Bank of England website.)

How to apply

There are more than 40 accredited lenders offering CBILS, including all major banks. To apply for financing, you need to work directly with one of these lenders. Stripe has spoken with the UK’s four largest banks who have provided the following information for applicants. The full list of accredited lenders can be viewed here.

For businesses that make between £45 and £500 million in gross revenue

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides loans with a government guarantee of 80% for larger businesses. Under the scheme, as of 26 May 2020, companies will be able to borrow up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £200 million. Accredited lenders who wish to offer larger loans will need to undergo further accreditation checks.

Companies receiving help over £50 million on terms of more than 12 months must agree certain restrictions (see below).


Your business must:

Restrictions in place for those borrowing over £50 million will include:

How to apply

The British Business Bank operates CLBILS via accredited lenders. You should approach a lender directly. The lender has the authority to decide whether to offer you finance.

Full rules and guidance on how to apply are available on the British Business Bank website.

For businesses that pay little or no business rates

The Small Business Grant Scheme provides a one-time grant of £10,000 to small businesses that occupy a property and already pay little or no business rates. It provides support for businesses with a physical premise, therefore businesses that are located in co-working spaces, for example, are not eligible for the scheme.

While other schemes are distributed by the central government, the Small Business Grant Scheme is provided by local authorities. The local authority in your area will distribute grants directly to eligible businesses.

Additionally, the Government has announced (2 May) its grant schemes will receive a 5% increase, equivalent to an additional £617 million for English authorities. The funding is being made available to local authorities, and is deliverable at their discretion. However, the Government has asked them to prioritise the following:


Your business must:

How to apply

You don’t need to do anything to apply. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Any enquiries or eligibility questions should be directed to your relevant local authority. Find your local authority.

For businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme offers a cash grant for businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure industries that occupy a property, like cafes, cinemas, live music venues, hotels, and others.

The grant amount depends on the rateable value of each property:

Like the Small Business Grant Scheme, the Retail and Hospitality Scheme is funded by local authorities. Equally, this grant is also included in the 5% top up outlined above. The Government has asked councils to prioritise businesses, such as Bed and Breakfasts, that pay council tax rather than business rates.


Your business must:

How to apply

You don’t need to do anything to apply. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Any enquiries or eligibility questions should be directed to your relevant local authority. Find your local authority.

Paying the wages of furloughed employees

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, UK employers with a PAYE scheme can continue paying part of their furloughed employees’ salaries. This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the payroll. HMRC will reimburse employers 80% of these employees’ wages, up to £2,500 per month.

For June and July the Government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. In the following months, businesses will be asked to make an increasing contribution, but with employees continuing to receive 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been previously furloughed, while still being able to claim the grant for their normal hours not worked. While claiming the grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. From August, the level of government grant provided will be tapered to reflect the return to work.

The government has announced that employers who bring back furloughed workers until the end of January will receive a one-off £1,000 payment for each employee. In order to receive this bonus, the employee must be brought back into continuous employment, and be paid at least the equivalent of the lower earnings limit on National Insurance each month. The bonus will be paid out in February 2021, providing these requirements are met.


Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies, and public authorities.

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020 and can be on any type of contract. This includes full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts, and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.

How to apply

You can apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the Government website. The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point on employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three weeks prior to 30 June.

To file a claim, you’ll need:

Supporting self-employed individuals

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) allows self-employed individuals to apply to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for March, April and May. If you are eligible you must have applied for this grant by 13 July 2020.

This scheme has been extended by the Government. This second and final taxable grant will be worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits. It will be paid out in a single installment, covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,750 in total.

The amount of money you’ll get depends on your average profits from the past three tax years. HMRC takes this total, divides it by three, and uses this to calculate a monthly amount.


You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:

Your self-employed profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income must come from self-employment.

How to apply

HMRC have contacted taxpayers who they believe to be entitled to claim the first SEISS grant. To check if you are eligible, or to make a claim, please see HMRC’s SEISS website. To apply you will need your Unique Tax Reference, National Insurance number, Government Gateway ID and UK bank details.  

Helping to manage tax payments

Deferring VAT payments

HMRC is supporting businesses by deferring VAT payments for three months.


Any UK VAT-registered business with a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

How to apply

If you choose to delay your VAT payment, you don’t need to inform HMRC. However, you do need to submit a VAT return as normal and must pay the VAT due on or before 31 March 2021.

Deferring income tax payments

Individuals who submit an annual Income Tax Self-Assessment may defer payments due on 31 July 2020 to 31 January 2021.


Individuals who submit an annual Income Tax Self-Assessment and are due to pay a second self-assessment payment on account on 31 July.

How to apply

You don’t need to do anything to apply. If you’re eligible, you can defer a payment until January 2021 with no penalty or interest on late payment.

Help making tax payments to HMRC

HMRC also offers additional support for businesses impacted by COVID-19 through its Time To Pay service. If you are in financial distress, have outstanding tax liabilities, and are concerned you might miss a tax payment, you can access tailored support through HMRC’s helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Additional resources

There are a number of resources to help your business adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, including:

We’ve seen optimistic results from businesses that have quickly added e-commerce capabilities. Learn how to accept your first online payment with Stripe and how to send one-time or recurring invoices.

You can also visit Stripe’s COVID-19 resources page for products, programs, and resources we are building to help your business adapt.