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North East England Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Business Update


North East England Chamber of Commerce welcomes the wide and far-reaching Government measures to support businesses in this current difficult situation and is also delivering its own support to hundreds of regional companies.

James Ramsbotham, Chamber chief executive said: “Coronavirus presents every business in our region with really tough challenges and they need help to get through them. We represent 3,000 businesses from major multi-nationals to self-employed consultants and are in the best possible position to help ensure they get whatever they need, to come out of this crisis.

“We have launched our own £100k membership relief fund and are updating people daily on the latest Government packages available as well advice on how to manage this current emergency. There are still some measures we need to see introduced such as more help for self-employed people who are struggling.

“My message to the North East business community is together we grow stronger and we are there to help in any way we can.”

The Chamber is part of the British Chambers of Commerce network which is in regular contact with Government and feeding in information on what the region’s businesses need and the urgency of those requirements.

There are a number of North East businesses who are still able to support others in a wide range of ways. These include Chamber member Moody Logistics in Cramlington which is playing an important role in keeping supply chains moving and Haltwhistle-based AGMA, a world-leading manufacturer of solutions for cleanroom sanitisation and environmental hygiene.

For businesses who are now having to adopt homeworking Business Durham is offering up to 40% grants to Co Durham businesses covering equipment. While Duco Digital is offering free marketing advice on things like websites, social media, SEO and eCommerce to businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Every day the Chamber is producing up-to-date information on what is available for businesses and where they should look for advice:

Here is a brief outline of the main packages and their status:

  • The coronavirus job retention scheme which will pay 80% of an employees salary who is at work – the payment system is currently being set up and due to be live in April.
  • VAT payments will be deferred but if you pay by direct debit you should cancel this now to avoid money being collected.
  • Statutory Sick Pay for employees is able to be reclaimed but no mechanism is in place for this as yet.
  • Business rates relief for retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will be applied by local authorities as will the £10k grant for small business rates relief, from early April.
  • Starting this week, a Covid Corporate Financing facility for large businesses will become operational. This will be operated by the British Business Bank.
  • There is also an HMRC time to pay helpline available 0800 01519.
  • For self-employed people they will have to access to Universal Credit, further details are not available as yet but no income tax payments are now due until January 2021.