UK Music Advice To Businesses On Coronavirus

UK Music has collected advice from Government and funding bodies for businesses affected by coronavirus. For more advice from our members on coronavirus click here

Across the UK

The Government's instructions are that all non-essential business premises should shut immediately, if you are unsure whether your business counts as essential the full guidance is here.

If you are a business that has been forced to close to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has announced a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover up to 80% of the wages of your workers, backdated from 1st March, this also applies to workers who have already been laid off, if they are brought back onto the pay roll. The scheme is due to open by the end of April, you can find more details on how to apply here.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will provide up to 80% cover for loans of up to £5 million from commercial banks to small businesses, interest on these loans will not be due for 12 months. Apply here.

The Government has also introduced a holiday on VAT payments, these have been deferred until June.

Small and Medium Businesses will be eligible for a refund for Statutory Sick Pay, if you have fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020, this refund will cover 14 days sick pay for any eligible employee affected by COVID-19 from the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to self-isolators comes into force, you should keep a record of absences, but you will not have to provide a GP’s sick note for the employees. This will be done through a repayment mechanism that will be set up in due course.

Even if your company is now insolvent the Government can cover Statutory Sick Pay for your employees if they have or are self-isolating due to Coronavirus, the advice is for the employee to call the Statutory Payment Disputes Team Telephone: 03000 560 630, more details can be found here.

Support for larger firms will be provided through the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, The Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This scheme is now open, you can find the eligibility criteria and an application form here.

If you are likely to struggle with tax payments due to coronavirus, HMRC is offering help and support for businesses, including payment plans, suspending debt collection and cancelling penalties and interest when administrative issues arise they can be contacted on 0800 0159 559 (8.00 – 20.00 Mon – Fri, 8.00 – 16.00 Sat, closed Bank Holidays). Find out more here.

If you are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief you will be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 from the Small Business Grant Fund, or the relevant devolved fund for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is for businesses with a rateable property value of up to £15,000 in England and Northern Ireland, £12,000 in Wales and £18,000 in Scotland.

Businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure with a value of above the small business rateable property value (£12,000 Wal. £15,000 Eng. + NI, £18,000 Scot.) and below £51,000 you will be eligible for a  Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund grant of £25,000 or the same amount from the relevant devolved fund for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The guidance to businesses for both these Funds in England has been issued here.

These schemes, as well as the business rate holiday, will be administered by your Local Authority and they in turn  will be reimbursed by either the UK Government or the relevant devolved Government, you will not have to apply.

The Government has also decided to delay the IR 35 reforms that were due to come into the private sector this year. Therefore there will be no changes to IR 35 for people in the private sector this financial year.


The Welsh Government has established an Economic Resilience Fund to provide further support for businesses forced to cease trading due to the pandemic. This includes new loans available from the Development Bank Wales or cash grants for businesses not covered by the grants already announced, including for micro, medium and large employers. The different streams will have different openings depending on your business size, you can find further details here.

If you are a grassroots music venue in Wales you can seek a grant of up to £25,000 from the Creative Wales Fund, this can cover staff costs, supplier costs or the cost of cancelled bookings, further details can be found here, and you need to email for an application form.

For applying for business grants in Wales, please apply through the Business Wales website which you can accessed here.

You can also get additional help, advice and support through Business Wales, their website is here, and they can be reached via phone at 030 006 03000.

If you have a loan from the Welsh Development Bank you will not have to make any capital repayments for 3 months.


Scottish businesses should contact the Scottish Government Business helpline on 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Find out more here.

All properties in Scotland will receive 1.6% in rate relief, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year.

For more information on how to apply for the Business Rate relief and grant schemes in Scotland, please see the Scottish Government website here.

Scottish Water has decided to suspend pre-payment for licensed providers for 2 months, to start in April.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive, in addition to the support outlined above has decided to reduce Business Rates in Northern Ireland for all businesses by 12.5% and freeze domestic rates, for the latest updates on the actions of the Northern Ireland Executive please check here.


Arts Council England

Key resource is Arts Council England’s has an updated page on Coronavirus info. Read more here

If you are currently in receipt of Arts Council England funding as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) or a Creative People and Place (CPP), you will be having funding conditions suspended for the next three months (June) and an advance on grant funding can be asked for, ACE ask that those in receipt of ACE funding honour contracts with freelancers, they can be contacted on 01619344317. 

Arts Council England have also made £160 million emergency funding available, including a £20 million fund for the self-employed and freelancers. These funding streams do not all require you to already be in receipt of ACE funding, further details can be found here.

Arts Council England have also offered help from their Tech Champions for people in receipt of their funds, as well as collating free resources and webinars to help with key digital questions. Find more here.

Arts Council Wales

Arts Council Wales have confirmed organisations will continue to receive funding and all funding committed to covering commitments. But funding conditions that specify types and levels of activity will not apply for at least three months. In exchange they ask that freelance contracts be honoured. They will continue to assess applications for fresh funding. Officers from Arts Council Wales will be in touch in due course with each ongoing project.

Arts Council Wales will also be launching their own relief fund of £7 million focused on artists in need and unsupported by other programmes. Details of how to apply will be made available in due course.

Enquiries or information on how the virus is effecting you if you are in receipt of Arts Council Wales funding should be sent to

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland have said that they will honour existing funding awards regardless of whether or not the event goes ahead, if delaying it until later in the year is impossible. Read more here.

Applications are currently being assessed using the usual timeframe, any new applications will need to be in line with current Scottish Government health advice, for any specific queries please contact

Arts Council Northern Ireland

The Arts Council Northern Ireland have announced that they will honour all grant awards from 2019-2020 and will roll them over to 2020-2021.

They will be paying out outstanding payments for 2019/2020 as soon as possible. This support will be exchanged for continuing as far as possible to honour contracts with artists and freelancers.

You can find the latest announcements on Arts Council Northern Ireland support during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

If you are an individual artist in Northern Ireland the Executive has announced a COVID-19 Creative Support Fund to support artists presenting new work in this period. Further details can be found here.

PRS Foundation

Latest coronavirus advice for PRS Foundation grantees and applicants can be found here


Musicians’ Union

The Musicians’ Union have opened a Coronavirus Hardship Fund. This fund is open to UK resident MU members of 12 months standing who are in immediate hardship from loss of earnings, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is a one off £200 grant for alleviating immediate hardship.

You can find out more on how to apply here. The MU have said they are aiming to make a decision on applications within 3 working days. If you are successful in your application, you should get a payment within 5 working days of being informed of your success.

For more in-depth information on the advice and all of the avenues of help for musicians, please find Help Musicians’ Coronavirus Advice for Musicians website here.

PRS For Music/PRS Foundation

PRS for Music have announced an immediate PRS Emergency Relief Fund to support its members during the Coronavirus pandemic. The new fund is open to all PRS members around the world who have earned over £500 in the last two years. Grants will be awarded based on assessment of individual need and applicants will receive support up to a value of £1000.

PRS writer members wishing to apply for an Emergency Relief Fund grant can apply and find more details here. The scheme will be administered using the PRS Members’ Fund established grants model. The Emergency Fund is now live and you can apply here.

Help Musicians

The Help Musicians Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund is now available. Eligible musicians can apply for a one-off grant of £500. Find out more here.

£5m in total is available to alleviate some of the immediate financial pressure musicians are facing.

The Music Venue Trust
The Music Venue Trust is also raising money to establish an emergency fund for Grassroots Music Venues, this will open in due course and more details can be found here.

As with businesses, if you are likely to struggle with tax payments due to the epidemic HMRC is offering help and support for the self-employed, they can be contacted on 0800 0159 559 (8.00 – 20.00 Mon – Fri, 8.00 – 16.00 Sat, closed Bank Holidays). Read more here.

The UK Government have announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme to support the self-employed. If you have been self-employed for over a year you will be eligible for a taxable grant of up to 80% of your average profits per month for up to the last three years, or £2,500 per month, (whichever is lower), the scheme will be open no later than June and will cover a 3 month period.
You need to be earning less than £50,000 a year, have a self-assessed tax return from 2019, and earn the majority of your earnings through self-employment to be eligible. HMRC will invite you to apply in due course if you are eligible.

You can find a full summary of the Chancellor’s announcement on 26/03/2020 here.

If you have been self-employed for less than a year the Government advice is to apply for Universal Credit and ESA, where the minimum income floor has been relaxed, for those who have to self-isolate due to the virus ESA will be available from day one of self-isolation. Read more here.

Third sector organisations are working to help support musicians at this time, Help Musicians can provide financial assistance for health interventions and signposting for debt/welfare related issues, their Health and Wellbeing team can be reached, telephone: 0207 239 9103. They cannot provide direct replacement of lost earnings, National Insurance or Income, Inheritance or Capital Gains Tax Bills or Legal Advice. For immediate Mental Health Support you can contact their team on or 0808 802 8008. Read more here.

The Musicians’ Union is advising that the current outbreak is likely to be a force majeure trigger for contracts, if you are a Musician Union (MU) member and you are concerned about your individual contracts you are advised to contact your MU regional office for further advice, this can be found here. Read more here.

On musicians in theatres, the current advice from the MU is, if a producer/theatre chose to close the contract with you should stand, if they waited until the Government order to close theatres, they do not have to pay but a producer’s insurance may cover wages, though this will vary individually. The MU’s website has further advice on this and music teaching etc, this can be accessed here.

The Government has announced mortgage lenders have agreed to support customers experiencing personal financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus, including through payment holidays, among other options. This approach will also be adopted where necessary for Help to Buy customers paying interest on their Equity Loans.

The Government have suspended Court action on evictions for possessions for 90 days from 27/03/2020, and all landlords will be required to give 3 months of an intention to end a tenancy. You can find more information on the protections for renters, and what to do if you are struggling with rent here.

The UK Government has opened up a £500 million Hardship Fund for local Councils in England, this will mostly be focused on providing Council Tax Relief. Further information can be found here but you should contact your Local Council or Local Authority to find out if you are eligible for your Council’s local scheme.

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