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Thinking about starting a business? Have an idea to explore – or ready to launch? The MEC Resource Centre is here to support you


For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

COVID-19: Complete list of business support for companies and self-employed

There is a vast amount of coronavirus information for businesses. Below we have compiled some particularly useful links, including sets of FAQs, with some interesting 'Other support' at the end.

COVID-19 support for limited companies

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - This scheme has been extended until the end of September 2021. HMRC reimbursement of up to 80% of furloughed workers' wage costs, subject to a cap of £2,500 per month (a cap that is reduced pro-rata if the employee is furloughed part-time). From 1 May 2021 employers will be required to pay the employer National Insurance Contributions and any auto enrolment pension contributions. In addition, from 1 July employers will make a contribution to the furlough wage costs; this contribution will be 10% in July and 20% in August and September. See these FAQs. Here is the Acas free-to-download furlough letter template.  

Recovery Loan Scheme - provides finance of between £25,001 and £10 million per business, or invoice or asset finance of between £1,000 and £10 million. No personal guarantees will be taken on facilities up to £250,000 and a borrower's principal private residence cannot be taken as security. Delivered through accredited banks and other lenders. The lenders are given an 80% government-backed guarantee, but the actual amount offered and the terms are at the discretion of the participating lender.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) - applications for this scheme closed on 31 March 2021.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme - applications for this scheme closed on 31 March 2021.

Deferred VAT payments - of payments originally due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. Businesses that deferred their VAT payments beyond 31 March 2021 have the option to pay in smaller payments up to March 2022.

HMRC Time To Pay for taxes generally. The HMRC helpline is 0800 0159 559.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) - reclaim employee's coronavirus-related SSP for two weeks. See this SSP factsheet and FAQs.

Business rate relief and grants for retail, hospitality, leisure and child-care nursery businesses - no business rates payments for 2020/21.

Rates relief and grants for businesses paying little or no business rates - for example, 100% relief for businesses in England with a rateable value up to £12,000.

Extension to file accounts - 3-month extension to file accounts with Companies House. Since 6 April 2021 this has required completing a successful application process.

Eviction protection for commercial tenants in most need - who cannot be evicted for missing a rent payment until 25 March 2022 (with rules to be established by upcoming legislation)..

Exporters can get help from UK Export Finance's Export Working Capital Scheme and other support measures (see section 2.1).

Redundancy payments financial assistance may be available from the Redundancy Payments Service, in limited situations.

Businesses that are open must follow government guidelines on work practices such as social distancing.

Support for Personal Service Companies (PSCs)

A limited company with a single shareholder and director (often referred to as a PSC) is eligible for all of the above schemes. The problem is that the director of a PSC is typically paid mainly in the form of dividends (to save tax) and the government schemes to support salary payments do not cover dividend payments. So during the coronavirus pandemic, many PSCs will be wishing they were self-employed, so they could access financial support. Many contractors will 'fall through the cracks' in support.

IR35 tax reforms - these reforms were delayed as a result of Coronavirus but came into force on 6 April 2021. They apply to all public authorities and medium and large-sized private sector businesses, all of which are now responsible for deciding the employment status of workers (sometimes known as contractors). The reforms mean that someone working like an employee, but through a limited company, will be taxed like someone employed directly.

Support for the Self-employed (sole traders and partnerships)

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) - a grant of up to 80% of trading profits. To allow HMRC to process the 2019 to 2020 self-assessment tax returns, the fourth grant will be available from late April 2021 until May 2021. There will be a fifth and final grant covering May to September 2021.

Access to Universal Credit - temporary changes to these entitlements allow self-employed people on low incomes to access financial support. Helpline: 0800 328 5644.

Income tax payments - the COVID-19 HMRC helpline can assist self-employed people with outstanding tax liabilities: 0800 0159 559.

Just like limited companies, sole traders and partnerships are potentially eligible for much of the government support above.

COVID support for specific sectors

Sector-relevant information is available from several organisations. For example:

Other support during the coronavirus pandemic

All sorts of regulations, licences, fees and deadlines have been relaxed, so it is also worth looking at the GOV.UK website and your local council website.

National and local small business organisations are also providing advice too including The Law Society, ICAEW and Chambers of Commerce.

Acas has produced extensive employment advice for employers and employees.

Banks offer a range of support packages, including repayment holidays and reduced or fee-free periods, eg Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds (including this guide), NatWest, Santander, TSB.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have produced Business insurance FAQs, including cover for business interruption due to a 'notifiable or infectious disease'. However, most commercial insurance policies (including for denial of access) are highly unlikely to cover COVID-19.

Company Rescue has produced advice for companies and directors worried about the impact of coronavirus.

The mental health of business owners and employees has become an increasing concern for many as the impact of the pandemic goes on. Mind has produced advice on taking care of mental health as has the NHS.

Rules and support vary depending on where your business is based:

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