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COVID-19: Guidance for employees, employers and businesses

In response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, Cumbria LEP has collated Government, National and Local resources and guidance, below, to help Cumbria's employees, employers and businesses feel supported to mitigate the impacts of the outbreak. There is also a list of initiatives businesses can support to help in the fight against COVID-19.

From speaking to our business community we are aware that different sectors are being affected in different ways and tailored support is needed for each, therefore, we have collated a COVID-19: Sector-specific Support page on a separate webpage.


  1. Support offered directly by Cumbria LEP
  2. Official Government Guidance and Resources
  3. National Guidance and Resources
  4. Local Guidance and Resources
  5. How your business can help


Support offered directly by Cumbria LEP

One-to-one guidance and advice

Our business support team are your first port of call for guidance and advice. They can provide up to 3 hours of support, which is specifically targeted at the needs of your business – be that help applying for grants and loans, adapting to new customer behaviours and reconfiguring your routes to market, financial accounting and sources of funding, marketing, sales and pricing product/services, legal advice, international trade, or skills and leadership development. CLEP provides this service hand-in-hand with local professional service businesses and other business advisory organisations, to ensure that the package really does meet the need of your individual business. To discuss your needs, in confidence, with one of our expert advisers, please email Helen Atherton, Project Manager (Business Support) at CLEP,

Peer Networks

We have launched the Peer Networks programme in Cumbria to offer local businesses the opportunity to participate in cohorts that will help them to build resilience, develop their capability and grow. Find out more and register here

CLEP Workshops and Masterclasses




May 27th

'The Way We Work Now – An Interactive Workshop on Adapting to Hybrid Working'

The pandemic has resulted in significant changes to the way that we work, with more people than ever working from home or doing a combination of home and office working – hybrid working, as its increasingly known.

Join us to share your experiences, hear from other businesses and receive some legal advice.


More Workshops and Masterclasses will be published here shortly - please check back.

Cumbria Jobs Fuse

A new service, Cumbria Jobs Fuse, is helping those made jobless as a result of Coronavirus in Cumbria get back into employment – while supporting key regional employers with gaps in their staffing due to the pandemic. If you’re facing an employment challenge, find out more here. This service is a joint partnership created by the National Careers Service, the Department of Work and Pensions and Cumbria LEP.

Cumbria Opportunities

Employment, apprenticeships, and training courses are among the opportunities to be found on a newly launched website, which is specifically designed to support people in the North who have lost their job as a result of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Cumbria's dedicated website is:

Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources Pack

As a result of stressful and uncertain times that Coronavirus has presented, the need to consider the mental wellbeing of you and your employees has never been more important. Drawing upon resources from the NHSMind and other recognised bodies and organisations, our guide will help you to navigate the support that is available and preventative techniques that individuals can use to manage their mental health. Download it here.

If you cannot find the information or support you require, either here on our our Sector-specific Support Webpage, Cumbria's Business and Economic Response and Recovery Group (BERRG), Chaired by Jo Lappin, Chief Executive of Cumbria LEP, is in direct contact with Government and will continue to make your voice heard, seeking the help you need. BERRG is keen to hear from businesses that want to provide intelligence or need support - please email us at 

This page is kept under continuous review and will be frequently updated. Please follow us on Twitter @cumbrialep for the latest information.


Official Government Guidance and Resources

With the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, information and advice from Government can change quickly.

  • The Government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’, setting out the roadmap out of the current lockdown for England.
  • In a Budget which ‘meets the moment’, the Chancellor has set out a £65 billion three-point plan to provide support for jobs and businesses as we emerge from the pandemic and forge a path to recovery. Read more
  • The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown that supersedes the four-tier system of COVID restrictions that had been in force. Non-essential shops, close-contact services such as hairdressers and indoor leisure venues must close, as must accommodation providers (with limited exceptions) while restaurants and pubs can operate only as takeaways.  Everyone must work from home unless they are unable to do so. Schools will remain open only for the children of key workers. To coincide with this, the Chancellor has announced that businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure can receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000.
  • All Government business support information can be found at This includes details of funding and support, your responsibilities as an employer, how to run a business safely and what businesses should be closed. Guidance for businesses trading internationally can be found here.
  • Guidance to help with running your charity during the Coronavirus outbreak, including financial support, can be found here.
  • NHS Test and Trace will test anyone who have symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. Increasingly, it will also test people who do not have symptoms, prioritising those who cannot work from home. In addition, the Government is offering businesses access to rapid-flow tests enabling them to test the whole of their workforce. Businesses can also set up their own test programmes to ensure their workforce is COVID-free. Here is a list of private test providers. The Government is offering all businesses access to lateral-flow tests enabling them to test the whole of their workforce (previously the offer was restricted to those with 50 or more staff). These are free until June 30 if you apply before March 31. As an alternative, Cumbria County Council is offering free lateral-flow tests as part of its community testing programme. Businesses can access testing in the workplace by emailing or employees can access testing by sending employees to a community test centre.
  • On 24 September, the Chancellor announced the Winter Economy Plan. The plan covers a new Job Support Scheme, tax cuts and deferrals, giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans and investment in public services.
  • The Government has released guidelines for employers on working safely and a tool to help businesses in England to reopen safely during Coronavirus here. This tool will help businesses to easily find out what they should do. Employees can also use this tool to check what their workplace needs to do to keep people safe.
  • This Workplace Pack has been developed to help businesses develop a plan for managing a COVID incident in their workplace. The intention is for businesses to read this before they are in an emergency situation so that they have thought through what they would do in such a scenario and smoothly implement their plan if/when a situation arises. 
  • The Government has developed a tool to help employees in England easily assess if they can return to work here. The tool guides employees through questions that may influence their ability to go back to work safely.
  • JETS (Job Entry Targeted Support) is dedicated to supporting those left jobless due to COVID-19 and is set to support hundreds of thousands of job seekers. More here
  • Guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service for employers, businesses and workers is here. From September 18, it is mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days. These businesses are also being instructed to download QR codes to prepare for public rollout of new NHS Covid-19 app from September 24. More information on this can be found here
  • From September 28, it will be a legal requirement for people who have been told to self-isolate to do so, supported by payments of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home. New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 up to a maximum of £10,000 for repeat offences and the most egregious breaches including for those preventing others from self-isolating. This could include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work.
  • Face coverings are mandatory in many settings  including shops and public transport. 
  • Those returning from abroad may be subject to quarantine restrictions and be required to self-isolate for 10 days. The Government has issued on guidance on the employment rights of individuals required to self-isolate on returning to the UK. There are exemptions from the quarantine requirement and a list of countries exempt from the requirement to quarantine. Before travelling abroad, check the latest advice from the Foreign Office, including a list of countries where the Foreign Office has lifted its advice against all but essential travel. There is also useful guidance on safe air travel and travel insurance.
  • This guidance outlines how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the Coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations, in terms of workers who: continue to work; have been placed on furlough as part of the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 
  • Safe travel guidance for passengers walking, cycling, and travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the coronavirus outbreak is here.
  • Domestic abuse: open letter from the Business Minister to employers.
  • The Financial Conduct Authority won a test case on the legal clarity of business interruption cover. The case outcome should help policyholders and insurers identify which business interruption policies provide cover for the coronavirus pandemic and which do not.
  • The Government has extended protections for businesses that struggle to pay their rent. They will be protected from eviction until the end of the year. In addition, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a code of practice to encourage commercial tenants and landlords to work together to protect viable businesses.
  • On 8 July the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a Plan for Jobs, including the Kickstart Scheme which is now live.
  • This guidance, for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations, outlines the changes that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is making to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Department of Work and Pensions has launched jobhelp and employerhelp. jobhelp content offers essential advice about which sectors are recruiting now, transferable skills and how to secure a role. Meanwhile, employerhelp focuses on recruiting, and encourages use of the Government's Matching Service 'Find A Job', a free service with more than 1.8M registered users.
  • The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched Digital Boost which offers free digital advice for small businesses and charities impacted by Coronavirus, provided by expert volunteers.
  • HM Revenue & Customs has launched a Tax Helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to Coronavirus. The number is 08000 241222. 
  • Companies House has produced guidance for if Coronavirus has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts. Find all the information here.
  • This Universal Credit webpage provides information about claiming for benefits as a result of COVID-19.
  • The Office of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) can provide advice and help on late payment issues for small businesses with under 50 staff. Contact them here
  • ACAS has published information for employees and employers with advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice and specific advice in relation to COVID-19 such as sick reporting and pay, self-isolation, and work absence including due to caring for someone. 
  • How to dispose of your business waste, including face coverings and PPE can be found here.

Additional guidance from Government: 

  • Businesses of all sizes can contact the Government's Business Support Helpline for free advice: 0800 998 1098The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes business advice on COVID-19.  
  • The Government has also launched a Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp. To use the free service, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started. Further information can be found here.
  • HM Revenue & Customs is running a series of webinars to help employers and their staff in addressing Coronavirus. These webinars will provide an overview of the support available for businesses. To sign up for the webinars and for further information, click here.
  • The Department of International Trade are also running a series of webinars to help businesses through the Coronavirus. More here.

We also reccomend that you sign up for Government email alerts on Coronavirus here and the Department for Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Daily Coronavirus Business and Employers Bulletin here.


National Guidance and Resources

  • The British Business Bank is delivering the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), the Future Fund and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).
  • A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.
  • The Bank of England also announced a comprehensive package of measures to help UK businesses and households bridge across the economic disruption that is likely to be associated with COVID-19. This includes a new lending facility for larger firms called the Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
  • Institute of Directors (IoD) has guidance on remote wellbeing, professional development, staying inspired and more here
  • KPMG provide a checklist which will enable you to understand the impact of COVID-19 on your organisation, crisis manage and plan business continuity. You can find this resource here
  • Be The Business shares themes such as supporting your staff and communicating with customers, how leaders are reacting right now and more of the best of what the web has to offer. Visit their website here
  • The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has the latest advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed
  • The British Chambers of Commerce’s advice on preparing for and responding to Coronavirus is here.
  • The Business Growth Hub has a suite of resources including a series of webinars and guidance on keeping your business operating and managing cash-flow here.
  • The National Cyber Security Centre has released guidance on moving your business online here.


Local Guidance and Resources

  • Information is available from each Local Authority Area on the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed Businesses), The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open Businesses), Additional Restrictions Grant and the one-off £1,000 grant available to wet-led pubs: 
  • The Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has a Coronavirus Business Toolkit and other resources including Chamber Connect which matches people available for work with businesses looking to recruit staff to plug gaps in their workforce. 
  • Cumbria Business Growth Hub can offer remote one-to-one adviser support to help you to plan through and beyond the crisis. Make contact here.
  • The Family Business Network has family business-related guidance and help for businesses across our region. Going forwards, they will also be hosting free business support opportunities, and sharing a regular feature that showcases some of the constructive and creative initiatives that family businesses are adopting to manage the crisis, as well as the good news stories and messages of hope. Visit their website here
  • Cumbria Jobs Fuse is helping those made jobless as a result of Coronavirus in Cumbria get back into employment – while supporting key regional employers with gaps in their staffing due to the pandemic. If you’re facing an employment challenge, find out more here. This service is a joint partnership created by the National Careers Service, the Department of Work and Pensions and Cumbria LEP. 
  • The Edge continues to support SMEs wishing to access high quality skills support for their workforce, including those accessing the Government COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme or who have recently been made redundant. A wide range of skills support delivered by 9 Cumbrian providers of education and learning. Additional flexibilities have been arranged to support businesses affected by COVID-19, in addition to a move to online and remote learning. Please register your interest for support on The Edge website here
  • The Key programme links employers and unemployed residents, providing high quality skills and employment support. If employers are recruiting and would be interested in flexible support please register interest with Inspira here.
  • Journey 2 Work is a voluntary employment programme that gives you personalised support to help reignite your employment goals and help you transfer your life and work experience into new opportunities. More here
  • Digital Cumbria is offering free support for businesses, valued at £5,000 each. The support is to help you understand how technology can benefit your business, making you more productive, more profitable, and freeing you up to do the things that really matter to you. Visit their website here
  • Community Learning and Skills deliver excellent employability courses. Find out more here
  • Cumbria Coaching Network is offering free coaching to the leaders and employees of businesses, charities and public sector organisations in Cumbria that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.  The group of professional coaches can help people who are experiencing distress, anxiety and business challenges. Find out more here.
  • Digital Tech Cumbria is an initiative to help Cumbrian businesses identify how digital technology can support the achievement of their goals. It is open to SMEs that sell to other businesses. More here
  • Baines Wilson LLP has a number of useful blog articles on the likes of Statutory Sick Pay, short-time working and lay-offs here
  • Burnetts Solicitors has various legal updates for businesses affected by COVID-19 here
  • Cumbria Community Foundation has set up a fund to help charitable groups support vulnerable people affected by COVID-19. For those that are able and would like to donate to the Fund, or if you want to inquire about receiving funding, click here
  • Lancaster University has a range of business support programmes designed to enable companies to innovate, develop and grow. You can find out more here.


How your business can help

National Initiatives

  • The Government is looking for businesses from a wide spectrum of industries to assist in a number of key areas, including:

    • medical testing equipment;
    • medical equipment design;
    • protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser;
    • hotel rooms;
    • transport and logistics, for moving goods or people;
    • manufacturing equipment;
    • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage;
    • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications;
    • social care or childcare.

    Offers of support can be made here

  • HMRC have said that manufacturers of hand sanitisers and gels and businesses that want to begin manufacture of these products will have their applications for denatured alcohol fast-tracked during the COVID-19 outbreak. Guidance can be found here
  • The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is calling on the public to help farms feed the nation and save this year’s harvest. Find out more here.
  • The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has launched a ‘Pick for Britain’ website to address the fact that we are likely to only have about a third of our normal labour force for this year's harvest. As such, we will need to rely on British workers to lend a hand to help bring that harvest home. Opportunities are available across the UK for those seeking a second job, particularly those that are furloughed. 


    As such, we will need to rely on British workers to lend a hand to help bring that harvest home. Opportunities are available across the UK for those seeking a second job, particularly those that are furloughed. 

Local Initiatives

  • Support Cumbria are looking for volunteers of all levels to support local charities and organisations in local communities. Find out more and register as a volunteer here
  • Speakers for Schools, in partnership with Cumbria LEP, is inviting businesses of all sizes throughout Cumbria to support an ambitious virtual work experience programme aimed at providing 3,000 placements for young people throughout the county. Find out more here


Additional information and guidance on the COVID-19 outbreak can be found below: 

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