How to access the Government’s Covid-19 financial support

Since the 11 March Budget, the Government has announced a range of financial support aimed at supporting businesses and charities through Covid-19.

As you look after the immediate needs of your social venture, we’re aware that it’s not easy to follow what has been made available so far, whether you’re eligible, and how it can be accessed. Below we answer these questions with an overview of the Government’s key loan and grant schemes. Further information on statutory sick pay, self-employment support, and furloughing workers can be found in our business guidance document.

We hope that you will be able to make us of this funding, and where it isn’t adequate, UnLtd will continue to advocate for more measures to support you.


£750 million support package for charities

This £750m package is split into three pots, two of which are focused on those providing key services to people during Covid-19.  The key pot for the majority of third sector organisations is the £370 million that will be distributed as grants to small-medium sized charities and asset-locked organisations.

Who is eligible?
Specific criteria are being confirmed; however, we expect registered charities and asset-locked social ventures will be eligible to apply.

How to access?
In England, it is expected that the National Lottery Community Fund will work with partner organisations to distribute this funding, and that grant applications will open in the coming weeks.

In Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, each respective government will receive a share of the funding, will likely distribute as grant funding via their own schemes.

Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG)

Grants of £10,000 under the SBGF, and either £10,000 or £25,000 under the RHLG. These grants will be administered by local authorities and have strict eligibility criteria.

Whilst these schemes are exclusive to England, similar schemes have been established in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (details below).

Who is eligible?
For the SBGF, eligible businesses are those which occupy property and that were eligible for either Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief on 11 March 2020.

For the RHLG, eligible businesses are those which occupy property and on 11 March 2020:

  1. Had a rateable value of less than £51,000
  2. Would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates Expanded Retail Discount Scheme had that scheme been in force.

Eligible businesses with a property with a rateable value between £0-15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Those with a property with a rateable value of between £15,001-51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

How to access?
Local authorities will contact eligible businesses directly. If you think your business should be eligible, you can also reach out to your local authority.

Scotland – the Scottish Government has established a similar Small Business Support Fund. The scheme has been extended so that businesses can receive additional grants (at 75%) for additional properties. Unlike the English scheme, eligible businesses must apply to their local authorities directly.

Wales – the Welsh Government has established a similar Covid-19 grant. Unlike the English scheme, eligible businesses must apply to their local authorities directly.

Northern Ireland – the Northern Irish Government has established a similar Business Support Grant Scheme. The £10,000 small business grant is now open for applications and the £25,000 retail, hospitality, and leisure grant scheme will open for applications on 20 April 2020.

Welsh Government funding for the third sector

The latest information can be found on WCVA’s website here, and it is worth highlighting their Third Sector Resilience Fund. This is the key fund for supporting third sector organisations that face financial difficulty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Access to a maximum of £75,000 (75% grant, 25% loan that is interest-free for the first 12 months) as ‘last resort’ funding to cover essential costs and prevent third sector organisations from having to close.

Who is eligible?
The fund is accessible to asset-locked organisations that have a particular status (eligibility list here) and that are based and operate in Wales. A strict test will be applied to consider both the need of the organisation and whether other funding sources are available.

How to access?
Applications must be made through the WCVA’s Multipurpose Application Portal.

Scottish Government funding for the third sector

Whilst the latest information can be found on SCVO’s website here, it is worth mentioning the Third Sector Resilience Fund, their key fund for supporting third sector organisations that face financial difficulty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Access to grants (£5,000-£100,000) and interest-free loans (from £50,000) for social enterprises, charities, and voluntary organisations working in Scotland and which face financial difficulty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Who is eligible?
The fund is accessible to organisations who were already delivering products / services prior to March 2020 and who now have a funding need caused by Covid-19.

How to access?
Use the SCVO’s eligibility checker (here) to begin your application.  

Other key support in Scotland?
The Scottish Government have recently announced a bespoke £100 million fund. This will be used to support newly self-employed individuals, and otherwise viable micro and SME businesses that are experiencing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is intended that this fund will be used by individuals and businesses who are ineligible for existing Scottish or UK Government support. The fund will be delivered by local authorities and enterprise agencies, and we expect that applications will be able to be made from 05 May.


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

What? A scheme for small-medium sized businesses to access up to £5 million in bank lending and overdrafts, which will be interest free for the first 12 months. 

Personal guarantees are not required for loans under £250,000. For loans above £250,000, personal guarantees will be capped at 20% of the remaining value of the loan.

The Government’s ‘80% guarantee’ has been widely reported. This guarantee is to the lender and not the borrower. The borrower will remain liable for 100% of the amount they borrow. Before seeking a loan under this scheme, you must make sure that debt finance is the right option for you and your organisation.

Who is eligible?

  • UK-based SMEs and charities
  • With an annual turnover of less than £45 million 
  • Generating at least 50% of turnover from trading 
  • Have a borrowing proposal that a lender would consider viable, if it weren’t for the Covid-19 pandemic.

How to access?
Although the scheme is administered by the British Business Bank, applications for loans under this scheme must be made directly to accredited lenders. A list of these lenders is here.


Our information has been taken from the 11 March Budget, subsequent Downing St briefings, and the UK Government’s Business Support website and Covid-19 Business Support Hub. please also review the Northern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Governments’ support websites for more details if you live in these countries.

Share this page

Author Info

Access our full business guidance

We have produced further detailed guidance for social entrepreneurs which explains other government support including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Self-employment Income Support Scheme and Statutory Sick Pay.

Read more

online community


We host a series of events throughout the UK each year. From classes and conferences, seminars and workshops to networking events and training sessions.

Upcoming events

learning area

Learning area

Looking for financial guidance? Want to sharpen your marketing skills? Access our range of guides in the learning area..

Visit our learning area

Hide this Message

To provide you with the best browsing experience, this site uses cookies. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.