Help Available for Portsmouth Small Businesses and SMEs

We’re collating support, resources and grants available to small businesses in Portsmouth. If you know of a resource that we’ve missed, let us know  and we’ll add it to the list (contact details at the bottom of this page).

Central Government Support 

The government have committed to varied packages of support for businesses across the country, including for:

  • claiming for your employees’ wages – the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • claiming back sick pay paid to your employees
  • deferring your VAT payments
  • business rates relief for nurseries, retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (see also below, PCC support, as this is administrated via the Council)
  • business support grant funds (see also below, PCC support, as these grants are run via the Council)
  • support for small and medium sized businesses with a Coronavirus business interruption loan

Read the full list of support and guidance on eligibility criteria, and details of how to apply here.


‘The government have now announced that the online claim service will be launched on GOV.UK on 20‌‌ April 2020. The only way to claim will be online but the service should be simple to use and any support you need available on GOV.UK; this will include help with calculating the amount you can claim. Claims will be paid within 6 working days.

Portsmouth City Council Support

Business rates

From the Council website:

‘Annual business rates bills had already been prepared at the time of the budget announcement. Where applicable, we will re-issue bills to incorporate the changes. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been working closely with representatives of local government and the software providers, and we expect to be able to include the extended relief in revised bills shortly.

‘We are currently experiencing high volumes of calls and correspondence due to the issue of annual business rates bills and further recent announcements from the Chancellor regarding additional business rates support.’

‘We will issue amended bills and distribute grants to all customers affected by these changes as quickly as we can.’

For more information on the launch of the helpline, see the Shaping Portsmouth website.

Small business grants from Portsmouth City Council 

Over 1400 businesses have already completed online forms to receive business grant funding of £10,000. Businesses are encouraged to check if they are eligible at and then complete the online form so payments can be processed.


‘If you have already applied for the small business grant fund or retail, hospitality and leisure grant, we have now started making payments. We have a lot of applications and are working through them as quickly as possible. Like most other local authorities, we have a national software provider and we had to work with them to make the necessary changes to our IT systems before payments could be made. Payments are being made by BAC’s and cheque. Payments by BAC’s are quicker and typically take three working days to show in your account so we anticipate the first payments to show on Friday. Payments by cheque are dependent on the postal system. We understand the importance of processing these payments as fast as possible and recognise the enormous pressures that many businesses are under at this time.

‘Please encourage any business owners you know in Portsmouth to check if their business is eligible for a grant. Eligible businesses just need to complete the online form so payments can be made.’


‘We know there are more businesses in Portsmouth who are entitled to the small business grant or retail, hospitality and leisure grant but have not yet submitted their details online. Please help us to spread the word around the Portsmouth business community. Eligible businesses just need to complete the online form so payments can be made.

‘If you have already applied for a grant you should be receiving payment soon. As of Monday morning we had processed 83% of forms received and made over £20 million payments, some of these payments will still be going through the banking system. Those that have not been processed yet are more complex and are being worked through as quickly as possible. Payments are being made by BACs and cheque. Payments by BACs are quicker and typically take three working days to show in your account. Payments by cheque are dependent on the postal system.’

Retail, hospitality and leisure grant from Portsmouth City Council 

Businesses are encouraged to check if they are eligible for grants of £10,000 at and then complete the online form so payments can be processed.


Retail Discount – 100% Business Rates Relief for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sector

Eligible ratepayers are:

  • shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, estate agents, lettings agencies, employment agencies, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, cinemas and live music venues;
  • for assembly and leisure; or
  • hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

From the Council website: ‘The annual bills issued to eligible retailers are now incorrect. Affected business rates accounts will be reassessed and bills reissued as soon as we are able to. Direct debits will be cancelled.’

Government guidance on the expanded retail scheme (issued 18/03/20)

Business Rates Nursery Discount – 100% Business Rates Relief for childcare providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register

On 18 March 2020, in response to the coronavirus, the Government announced that many childcare providers would pay no business rates in 2020/21

This relief will apply to hereditaments occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage and which are subject to business rates in the year 2020/21. There will be no rateable value limit on the relief.

From the Council website: ‘We are waiting for access to the Ofsted’s Early Years Register and then we will issue new bills and cancel direct debits.’

Government guidance on the Nursery Discount scheme (issued 20/03/20)

Dedicated Council helpline for Portsmouth businesses 

The business support helpline is managed by the council’s business support team and is now open Monday to Friday between 7am – 7pm on: 02392 841 641

Council newsletter for businesses via My Portsmouth updates

Get the latest news on the topics that matter most to you by signing up to My Portsmouth Updates, including not only updates and advice for small businesses, but also for residents.

Council full list of support, guidance and advice available to businesses of all sizes 

This is the Council’s comprehensive guide to varied forms of support, in addition to the financial support focused on here. This includes details on delaying tax payments, various local and national business helplines, and a list of support available to local charities and social enterprises, and to creative industries and sport.


Enterprise Relief Fund from Natwest and Princes Trust

These grants are aimed at business owners aged 18- 30 years old. From the website:

‘Grants can be used to maintain core business operations during the crisis, as well as meet any existing financial commitments, such as paying for essential equipment or settling invoices from suppliers. Additionally, grants will also support young people to diversify their business to respond to opportunities created by the crises. In conjunction with grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to any applicants who need it.

‘To be eligible to apply, you must be a business owner aged 18 to 30, who set up their business in the last four years and don’t have any other source of income during the crisis.

‘If you set up your business with support from The Prince’s Trust in the last four years, you are still eligible for the fund if you were aged 18-30 at the time you received this support.’

Find out more here at the Prince’s Trust website.


Crowdfunding Support and Match-funding from Solent LEP and Portsmouth City Council

Both Portsmouth City Council and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are offering support to local businesses who are attempting to crowdfund. Each business can only apply to one of these two streams, not both. Each fund may pledge up to 50% of your project target, up to a £5,000 maximum pledge, subject to eligibility.

‘This fund provides support for existing micro and small businesses seeking to cope in challenging trading conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘You need a crowdfunding project to apply for funding. Start or continue adding your project and, if eligible, you’ll be prompted to apply.’

Solent LEP told S&C on Twitter that local businesses should go to the Crowdfund Solent page on Crowdfunder to start, ‘then based on their postcode and keywords, we’ll get them to apply for the right fund.’ This page also has full details on eligibility criteria and the

You can also visit the Portsmouth Crowdfunder page for more information.


Portsmouth party DJ, has already achieved the goal set after raising over £2,000 from the crowd and unlocking £2,000 match funding from us.  ‘


Solent LEP Coronavirus Support Hub

This page is dedicated to all forms of support available during the pandemic, not only for businesses of all sizes, but also for individuals and the self-employed. It is, in our view, a great resource to signpost you to further support.


Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

The FSB and their in-house Insurance Service have put together some FAQs to support small businesses in their efforts to assess what impact Coronavirus (COVID-19) will have on your business insurance.

Shaping Portsmouth Support

Shaping Portsmouth is a local voluntary group comprising small businesses in the city, and supported by four members of staff. It is led by Stef Nienaltowski. Two of the team have recently been furloughed, and the organisation is now focused on ‘promoting and communicating what the central government, local government and others are doing in the city.’ You can read the full statement at their website.

You can follow Shaping Portsmouth on Facebook and Twitter for updates, and if you need to get in touch with them, the team requests you use only one of these two email addresses:


Information collated by Sarah Cheverton. Contact the S&C team if you know of another resource we haven’t included on our Facebook and Twitter, or email: 

Image by William Iven from Pixabay.


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