COVID-19 Business Support for 2020/21

 Covid-19 Hospitality Business Grant

An emergency fund of up to £40million was launched recently in a bid to protect Liverpool City Region’s vital hospitality and leisure businesses from the huge economic impact Covid-19 restrictions are having on the sector. Find out if your business is eligible for the grant on this page.

InvestSefton is Sefton Council business support service, we offer free information and advice – for all non rates enquiries please go to

Find out how the latest restrictions that were introduced by the Government on 14 October 2020, affect businesses in Sefton.

Business Rates payers whose business has been instructed to close on or after 14 October 2020 as a result of the latest Covid-19 restrictions will be eligible for support for each complete two-week period the measures are in place. If you are a hospitality and leisure business, you can apply for this grant even if you have applied for the LCR Hospitality and Leisure Sector Grant. See Local Restrictions Support Grant below for more information.

Contacting The Business Team

Telephone and e-mails

There remains an exceptionally high volume of work created by the Business Support Grant work. Consequently, the Business Rates Team have had to introduce temporary restrictions to telephone calls to enable the team to resolve outstanding queries as quickly as possible.

Telephone calls can only be taken between 9.00 am and 4.00 pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

If you have an enquiry about payment, eligibility for a discount, or a general question about business rates e-mail is currently the quickest method of resolving a an enquiry. You can e-mail the team at

When contacting us by e-mail please include details of the property your enquiry relates to, an account or property reference if you have it, and a contact telephone number. If we need to speak to you a member of the team will call you.

Please note that we are unable to respond to emails asking for progress updates.

Businesses subject to Tier 3 Local Restrictions (from 14 October 2020)

As a result of Tier 3 local restrictions being put in place to manage the spread of COVID19, the following business premises will be required to close:

  • public houses and bars - unless they require customers to purchase a substantial meal alongside the purchase of alcohol
  • soft play centres
  • betting shops
  • casinos
  • adult gaming centres


A Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) will be available to eligible businesses for each complete two-week period that a premises is required to be closed following the implementation of localised restrictions.

Those businesses that have applied for the Local Restrictions Support Grant as a result of Tier 3 restrictions do not need to re-apply as a result of national restrictions.


Business subject to National Restrictions (from 5 November 2020)

To further reduce the spread of COVID 19, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close or restrict how they provide goods and services. These include:

  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm; and not including alcohol), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites. Except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where they cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, archery, driving, and shooting ranges
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, soft play centres and areas, circuses, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks, theme parks. Indoor attractions at botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. It is also prohibited to provide these services in other peoples’ homes
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities as set out below Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services - for example for people who do not have it at home - and for click-and-collect
  • Places of worship, apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, and service broadcasting and funerals


These businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:

  • education and training (including for schools to use sports and leisure facilities where that it is part of their normal provision)
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for children
  • blood donation and food banks
  • to provide medical treatment
  • for elite sports persons (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), professional dancers and choreographers (in fitness and dance studios)
  • for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
  • for the purposes of professional film and TV filming


A Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) will be available to eligible businesses for the period of the national restrictions.

The level of grant paid will depend on the rateable value of the business premises.


Business subject to National Restrictions (from March 2020)

The Government has announced plans to provide support to businesses that have continued to be closed due to national restrictions implemented in March 2020, for example, nightclubs.

From the 1 November 2020 these businesses will be eligible to apply for the Local Restrictions Support Grant.

Eligibility criteria

  1. A business was open and providing in-person services to customers prior to restrictions being applied
  2. It is occupying a property appearing on the local rating list and is shown on the Council’s record as liable for Business Rates on the date restrictions were imposed.
  3. It has been required to close for a consecutive period of no less than two weeks because of regulations made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984



Other businesses are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines and will not qualify for a grant under this scheme. This includes those providing essential goods or services, including:

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences.
  • Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • Funeral directors
  • Launderettes and dry cleaners
  • Medical and dental services
  • Vets and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Storage and distribution facilities
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Outdoor playgrounds


A business will not qualify for a grant in the following circumstances:

  • if it was in administration, insolvent or a striking off order was made at the time local restrictions started
  • the period of the restriction is less than two weeks
  • the business can continue to trade and is not required to close despite the restrictions, as it does not depend on providing direct in-person services from the business premises
  • the business has only had a restriction placed on its opening times
  • the business premises are located outside the restrictions area, as defined by Government
  • it has chosen to, rather than has been required to, close
  • it has already received grant payments that equal the maximum levels of state aid permitted under the de minimis limit or the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework


How Much is the Grant?

How much a business receives will be calculated according to the rateable value of the business premises on the date that restrictions are imposed, but will also depend upon the length of time a business is required to remain closed. Retrospective adjustments to the Rating List are to be ignored for the purposes of determining a grant. It is expected that businesses will receive multiple payments while restrictions remain in place but will only be required to apply once.

Businesses are eligible for grants for each complete two-week cycle they remain closed. It is understood that in some cases, for example soft play centres, restrictions imposed result in some periods of less than two weeks in a cycle. The Council is awaiting more guidance from the Government. We will write to you and explain to you what payments you will receive when your application has been verified.

The basic grants are:-

  • £667 for each complete two weeks where the rateable value of your premises is exactly £15,000 or lower.
  • £1000 for each complete two weeks where the rateable value of your premises is between £15,001 and £51,999
  • £1500 for each complete two weeks where the rateable value of your premises is exactly £51,000 or more.

If you do not occupy a business premises and subject to Business Rates you are not eligible to apply


How to Apply

If having read the criteria you think you are eligible for a grant you will need the following to complete the application online.

  • The Business Rates account number and property reference from your bill. Please note that if you do not have your reference numbers we cannot provide them by telephone or e-mail. You can request a copy of your bill to be sent to the contact address we already have on record. This is for your own security to prevent fraud.
  • Bank Details. This must be the bank account for the business not your personal bank account. The name you enter as the account holder must be that of the business account as shown on your bank statements.
  • VAT Registration Number if VAT registered
  • Companies Number if a Limited Company

If you think you will be eligible for a grant please complete the following online Restrictions Support Grant Application Form 


State Aid

The Local Restrictions Support Grant counts towards state aid limits.

Applicants are required to confirm that by accepting a grant, the business will not exceed the allowable limits of State Aid. 

Currently these limits are the de minimis limit of €200,000 of State Aid over a three-year period, or, if this limit is exceeded, €800,000 of State Aid permitted under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework, which imposes limitations and exceptions.


In November 2020, the Government announced additional Covid 19 grants to support local businesses, the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) and the Additional Restrictions Grant.

The Liverpool City Region has combined these 2 grants to create the Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grant (Expanded Scheme).

Who can apply?

You can apply if you meet one of the 3 descriptions below. You can only apply for one grant per business.

1. A Retail business that:

  • operates from commercial retail premises
  • has been forced to close due to national restrictions
  • is not eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed)

2. A business that directly supplies to the Hospitality and Leisure sectors that:

  • operates from commercial premises
  • is not eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed)

3. A home-based business (for example, a self-employed person, sole trader, or a limited company) that:

  • predominantly works in or supplies to the Hospitality and Leisure sectors
  • can no longer generate income through usual channels, e.g., meeting customers
  • has ongoing business-related costs
    Licensed Market traders (in any part of the Retail sector) are eligible to apply under this category.

Further details on eligibility can be found in the Guidance Notes and Checklist document that can be found at the bottom of this webpage. PLEASE READ BEFORE APPLYING. 

How much will I get?

Please refer to the grant payment amounts in the Guidance Notes and Checklist document which you will find at the bottom of this webpage.

How will the Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grant (Expanded Scheme) be paid?

Grants will be awarded as a one-off payment paid by BACS bank transfer.

Important information before you apply:

Before applying for the Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grant (Expanded Scheme) we would urge you to read the Guidance Notes and Checklist document. You will find this document at the bottom of this webpage. By reading this document first you will have a better understanding of the application process and the EVIDENCE that you will be required to provide and upload with your application.  Your application will not be processed if you have not supplied the correct evidence.

How to apply

The Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grants (Expanded Scheme) will be open for applications that meet the eligibility criteria from 11am on Monday 30 November 2020 and close at 5pm on Friday 11 December 2020.

Follow this link to complete the application process: 


The Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grant (Expanded Scheme)is being administrated by a small team within Sefton Council. This grant is NOT part of Business Rates or InvestSefton and therefore please do not call either of these teams if your query relates to this grant.

Enquiries for the Hospitality and Leisure Grant (Expanded Scheme) are being dealt with by email only and can be sent to

IIMPORTANT NOTICE: The application window now closed, it is likely to open again so please sign up to InvestSefton mailings list by email to be notified

In response to the variety of business restrictions that are currently impacting upon the Liverpool’s hospitality and leisure businesses, Sefton Council, in conjunction with our neighbouring local authorities and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority are launching the Liverpool City Region Hospitality and Leisure Support Grant. 

The fund will offer grants focused on helping businesses to retain jobs and meet operational costs during these difficult periods of trading and is designed to be complementary to additional measures provided by the Government such as the Jobs Support Scheme and the Local Restrictions Support Grant.


Who can apply?

These grants are for businesses in the Leisure & Hospitality industry whose activities have been significantly affected by Covid-19 restrictions.  The grant will support businesses that are able to continue trading through these difficult times, or that have been forced to close as part of the Government’s Tier 3 Lockdown.

Detail on eligibility can be found in the attached guidance.


Payment of the Hospitality and Leisure Grant

Grants will be awarded based on the number of Full Time Equivalent people that businesses employ as well as the rateable value of the commercial premises occupied.  Grants will be paid on a phased basis and future payments will be subject to the satisfactory receipt of relevant information that shows that the business is still trading, that it is employing the number of staff claimed for and that it is able to receive the grant as per State Aid rules.


Important Information before you apply

Before applying for the Hospitality and Leisure Grant we would urge you to read the Guidance Notes and Checklist – you will find this document further down this webpage. By reading the document first you will have a clearer understanding of the process and evidence that you will be required to provide and upload with your application.

The Hospitality and Leisure Grant is being administrated by a small team within Sefton Council – this grant is NOT part of Business Rates or InvestSefton and therefore please do not call either of these teams if your query relates to the Hospitality and Leisure Grant.  Enquiries for the Hospitality and Leisure grant are being dealt with by email only and can be sent to


How to apply

Please note, the deadline for applications was 30 October - the grant is currently closed.


How much will I get?

If your application is successful, the amount you get depends on the number of Full Time Equivalent staff in your organisation, whether your business is continuing to trade and the Rateable Value, or level of rent payments associated with your property.  For further information on this, please refer to the full guidance notes.


Further FAQs

Since launching the fund, we have received a wide range of questions from local businesses when they apply. There were too many to put on this page so we've created the Liverpool City Region Hospitality and Leisure Sector Fund FAQs document for you to read (see below).

The Discretionary Business Grant Fund

The Discretionary Business Grant fund was launched on Thursday 11th June 2020 and as of Wednesday 23rd September 2020 all available funds have been allocated. 

All successful applicants have been notified. If you have any queries in relation to the Discretionary Grant, please email stating your business name and the application reference number in the subject line of the email.

The Discretionary Business Grants Fund aimed to help those small businesses with fixed commercial property costs which were not eligible for other existing Government cash grants schemes. It was for businesses who have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Businesses who were eligible for other existing Government support grant schemes  were not eligible for the Discretionary Business Grant.

Funding for the Discretionary Business Grant was limited and the funding was allocated on a first come first served basis when all of the required evidence had been submitted.

To ensure that you are notified of any future business grant funding, please subscribe to the InvestSefton mailing list by emailing your business details to and ask to be added to the mailing list.



In response to the Coronavirus the Government announced there would be support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This support will take the form of two grant funding schemes, the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

This Scheme is now closed to new Applications.

If you have recently submitted an application you may be requested to submit additional evidence in support of your claim. If we require additional evidence, we will e-mail you and provide you with a date by which the evidence must be submitted. It is important that you provide the evidence required by that date. If you do not, we will not be able to pay you a grant.

The announcement that the payment of grants were to be administered by the Council has created an unprecedented level of demand on the Business Rates Team. If you have completed an online form or e-mailed us with a service request, we will respond as quickly as we can but due to the extra demand this will take a few days. Please do not e-mail or call us asking for progress as this slows down the payment of the grants.

When submitting an online form, you will receive a reference conforming your form has been submitted. You will not receive an email acknowledgement.

When sending an email, you will receive an acknowledgement. You do not need to send a follow up to your original message.

We can only make payments to the business bank account not to a personal bank account.

If the named bank account on the online form does not match the name on the business rate account, we may need to ask for additional verification and evidence.

When completing the form please double check you have entered the correct bank account number and sort code. Incorrect details will be rejected by the BACS payment system.

The Government has stated that to be eligible for a grant the business had to be the eligible ratepayer on March 11, 2020. A significantly larger than expected number of business have contacted us to state that the property changed hands before that date. This information will take time to process and investigate.

The minimum evidence we will require you to provide is:

  • A copy of your lease or licence to occupy
  • Copies of utility bills showing usage prior to March 11
  • Copy of your bank statements showing evidence of rent payment made prior to March 11
  • Copies of supplier invoices/receipts prior to March 11.

When completing the online form for the Business Support Grants you will need some key security information from your latest Business Rates Bill. Bills for 2020/21 were posted on March 13, 2020 and dated March 16, 2020. We are aware that businesses have had to close at short notice and consequently the bill may have been posted a property that had already closed due to Government advice. Consequently, we are receiving numerous requests to send copies of bills via e-mail or to an alternative address.

Ideally we would encourage a business owner to visit their business address to collect the bill posted on March 13.  If this is not possible, we must be able to verify that the person making the request is the business owner, or a person with an official position within a company, for example a director. Where we cannot verify your details through any information we already hold, then we will require proof that you are the business owner before we can agree to your request for a copy bill. Evidence may be in the form of supplier invoices or utility bills for the business, which must be less than three months old and must pre-date March 13, 2020, the date for eligibility of the grant.

If we cannot verify you as the business owner, then we will have to send the copy bill to the address we currently hold on our records. We must do this as a protection against possible fraud and to ensure that only those entitled to a grant receive it. All requests for a copy bill, and any supporting evidence, must be sent to our Business Rates team by email

Please note that we cannot accept any telephone requests for a copy bill at this time.

Please also note that we do not currently have the facility to send bills via email.


Small Business Grant Fund

Properties with a rateable value of up to and including £15,000, and where the business was in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief on March 11, 2020, are eligible for a grant of £10,000

Properties that were not eligible Small Business Rate Relief are not eligible for the grant.

Properties that were eligible for Rural Rate Relief on March 11, 2020 will also be eligible for this grant.

Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property.


Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant Fund

Properties which on the March 11, 2020 had a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 but less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates Expanded Retail Discount Scheme (Business Rates Holiday) had that scheme been in force for that date are eligible for grants as follows:  

  • Properties with a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000
  • Properties with a rateable of over £15,000 but less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000

 Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property.

A Business Rates holiday for 12 months for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England is to be granted. A 100% discount will be applied to your bill from 1st April 2020. The Government has published detailed eligibility and is available (see list below).

You will not be required to apply as the discount will be applied automatically.

Amended bills with the Expanded Retail Discount applied have now been issued. If you have not received an amended bill, and after reading the guidance below you think your business qualifies for the discount, e-mail us with a brief explanation of why you think you qualify. Please quote ‘Retail Discount 20/21’ in the subject line of your e-mail. Please make sure you quote your business address and business rate reference in the body of the e-mail.

Properties that will benefit from the Nursery Discount will be hereditaments occupied by providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

You will not be required to apply as the discount will be applied automatically. If you think you are eligible but have not received the discount send an e-mail quoting your property address and account number.


Thank you for your ongoing commitment and support to maintain services and supplies to the Council during the Covid-19 outbreak.

We know that this is a very challenging time and that we will all need to work together in the coming weeks.

We also appreciate that some suppliers may struggle to fully meet their full contractual obligations, and that we may need to alter our requirements, temporarily suspend some services, or change ways of working to do what is necessary for our community.

During this period the Council would like to work together with our contracted suppliers to provide support where it is possible in order that we can resume normal contract service delivery as soon as possible once the Covid-19 outbreak is over.

Supplier relief

In addition to supporting the prompt payment of invoices Sefton Council has been working with theGovernment and are able to offer some supplier relief (support). This will be on a case by case basis according to the nature of the services, goods or works being provided, the challenges being faced, the contracted terms and the constraints of any statutory requirements.

Every contract will have its own unique characteristics and therefore the relief available will vary case by case, but some examples could be as follows:

  • Extension of current contracts to ensure continuity of supply to Sefton Council.
  • Forward ordering of goods and services if required
  • Change is service delivery model to facilitate continuity of supply to Sefton Council
  • Payment in advance or interim payments where justifiable.
  • Extensions to time of delivery where justifiable.
  • Redeployment of capacity into other areas of Council needs

Please note that the Sefton Council is itself experiencing staffing issues due to isolation and school closures and cannot guarantee a response time to any enquiries but we will therefore aim to achieve this support to the best of its ability.

There may be other forms of relief that may be helpful in the short-term so please feel free to suggest those if it ensures we can maintain business continuity.

Supplier relief is currently available up to the end of June 2020, and this may be extended further at a later date if we are advised of this by Government.

Requesting Relief

If you need some flexibility or support up to the end of June 2020 and would like to request some contractual relief you should make contact with your normal Sefton Council contract manager or day to day contact to discuss the options that might be available.

Please could you then follow up with a formal relief request by email to your contact and to  with your request and your rationale and justification in order that Sefton Council can quickly determine the best solution in the best interests of both parties and our community.

Supplier Obligations during the Relief period

Sefton Council needs all suppliers to ensure that business continuity is maintained wherever possible, and that you enact your business continuity plans to do your utmost to support the Council’s requirements.

In some cases the Council may need to make quick decisions with imperfect information. Any supplier relief offered is conditional on suppliers agreeing to act and work on a total open book basis, with appropriate cost transparency in order that the Council can continue to meet its value for money obligations.   

To qualify suppliers must accept Sefton Councils Model Interim Payment Terms (which are available on request) and commit to continue to pay staff and subcontractors and make cost data available to the Sefton Council during this period.

If it is found that any supplier is found to be taking undue advantage or failing in their duty to act transparently and with integrity, then the Council has a right to act to recover payments made.

Thank you for your support  at this difficult time.  By working together we aim to deliver the best possible outcomes for Sefton businesses and residents throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Chancellor announced a number of other measures as part of his package of support:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme;
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments;
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs;
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank;
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans;
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

Further details can be found at:

The Invest Sefton website

The Government website 


Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grants (expanded scheme) - Guidance Notes and Checklist (pdf 75KB)
Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Grants (Expanded Scheme) - Terms and Conditions (pdf 115KB)
Business Support Grants FAQs (pdf 205KB)
Small Business Support Grants - Guide for Businesses (pdf 204KB)
Expanded Retail Discount Guidance (pdf 206KB)
857820 853379 Direction To Close Skin Kerr 002 (pdf 496KB)
New Direction Notice (pdf 158KB)

Last Updated on 27 November 2020

Recite Me Button