COVID-19. Image by Iximus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Knowledge Base for North East Businesses

Published by Graham Soult


What this page is for

What this page is for. Image by congerdesign at Pixabay

As all businesses, including ours, adapt to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, there’s a lot to deal with – and a lot of information to digest – as we work hard, together, to ensure our businesses make it out the other side.

We’re fortunate, in our Durham Business Club and Executive Group members, to have access to some talented and well-connected people who are experts in their fields – including finance, employment, tax, wellbeing, and more.

We have already been sharing valuable information from our members via social media – on our LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – but thought it would be useful to also pull all those links together in one place, grouped by category.

DBG vice-chair Graham Soult will be regularly updating this page with new information, predominantly supplied by our members, but also featuring important government sources where appropriate. If there is something you would like to see added to this page, contact Durham Business Group CEO Alison Gittins – we’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Last updated: 4 May 2020

Support from Durham Business Group

Durham Business Group's Portland House offices

Though our face-to-face networking events are curtailed for now, Durham Business Group is working hard to keep our members and clients informed, engaged and connected:

  • Durham Office Services: Our Durham Office Services business is operating as near as possible to usual. We are continuing to offer our range of business support services – including telephone answering, registered office addresses, and mail handling – to existing and new clients. Contact Sarah on 0191 375 5700 for more details; we are currently able to offer special call and mail packages without the usual 12-month contract requirement, to provide maximum flexibility at this unique time.
  • Social media: We are continuing to be active on our LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, sharing timely updates about how to navigate the current situation, as well as positive news from our members and clients. As always, members can tag or mention us if there is something they would like us to share. We also a LinkedIn group (open to anyone from the North East) and Facebook group (members only), where anyone can post their own updates, questions and thoughts.
  • Virtual networking: We are helping to facilitate a weekly Twitter hour, #networknortheast, and hosting virtual networking events, exclusively for members, on the platform – read more about both those here.

If you have any questions or concerns at this time, we are here to help – even if we don’t have the answer, we’ll know someone who does.

Government info

Screenshot of government COVID-19 webpage

  • COVID-19: support for businesses: The single most useful source of reliable information is the website, which has a dedicated section for businesses affected by COVID-19. It includes full and regularly updated details of the measures that the government has announced to support people and businesses, including, for example, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“furloughing”), Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, small business grant funding, and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

General toolkits and resources

Toolkits. Image by www_slon_pics at Pixabay

  • North East Growth Hub: guidance for businesses and employers on COVID-19: A toolkit providing businesses with the latest advice, guidance and support from government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including: financial support available for businesses; official guidance for employees, employers and businesses; advice on effective home working; caring for staff, suppliers and customers.

Employers’ resources

Employers. Image by www_slon_pics at Pixabay

  • Coronavirus news from The HR Dept: Regularly updated resource for employers, by The HR Dept. Recent additions include updates to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and relaxation of the rules on carrying over annual leave.
  • CJRS – update by Harlands: DBC member Harlands reports that HMRC’s CJRS online system will go live in 20 April, with payments made to businesses four to six working days after submission.
  • IR35 deadline delay: A useful explainer from DBC member Baldwins Accountants about the one-year delay to IR35 (off-payroll working) rule changes – postponed until 6 April 2021 as a result of COVID-19.

Finance and support resources

Finance. Image by QuinceCreative at Pixabay



Buy-to-let mortgages

Marketing advice

Marketing. Modified image by Mudassar Iqbal

Suppliers’ resources

Suppliers. Image by DarkWorkX at Pixabay

  • Advice for suppliers and customers: A useful post from DBC member Sintons addressing what suppliers and clients can do if they are unable to meet contractual commitments in service sectors such as leisure, travel and events management.
  • Covid-19: Does your Force Majeure clause protect you? As the social and economic impact of COVID-19 continues to make itself felt around the world, DBC member Swinburne Maddison explores the mechanics of a typical Force Majeure clause, and how this might be of assistance to businesses who are no longer able to fulfil their obligations under existing contracts.

Virtual networking

Virtual networking. Images by GDJ and Monicore at Pixabay

  • DBC Member Virtual Networking: We are using a fun online platform called, which replicates the experience of a face-to-face DBC event by featuring interesting short presentations and member announcements, while also having members sitting at virtual tables and moving around the room! These events are exclusively for DBC members for now – keep an eye on your email inbox, the website homepage and our member-only Facebook group for the latest invitations.
  • Network North East: Durham Business Club, and others in the North East business community are facilitating a weekly Twitter hour – #networknortheast – every Tuesday between 2pm and 3pm. Just head over to Twitter, follow the hashtag, and join the chat! Though many DBC members are already taking part, the Twitter hour is open to everyone.

Wellbeing resources

Wellbeing. Image by Binja69 from Pixabay

  • Managing workplace mental health: Useful tips from DBC member Alison Schreiber from The HR Dept on how employers can look after their own – and their employees’ – mental and physical health during the coronavirus situation.

Working from home tips

Working from home. Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

  • Tips from John Atkinson: John Atkinson, from DBC member NBSL, shared this short video with tips for structuring your day and finding new opportunities.
  • Laptops for remote workers: In response to the disruption caused by the high demand, short supply and long lead times for new laptops, DBC member Prodec is assisting companies by offering refurbished laptops from leading manufacturers including HP, Dell and Lenovo.


Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

Business support funds that were in place prior to COVID-19 are continuing to operate remotely – NBSL paid out £118,000 in grants to over 60 businesses in March 2020 alone – and are well worth looking at if you are wanting to develop and grow your business.

  • North East Business Support Fund by NBSL: Managed by DBC member NBSL, the NEBSF offers “project grants and masterclasses for businesses across the North East”. Support varies depending on which local authority area your business is based in; businesses in County Durham can potentially “access up to 40% funding for business improvement projects costing between £2,500 and £8,000 (maximum grant of £3,200)”, which can be used for “almost any type of business support that will help your business to grow – from marketing and web design to financial or human resources planning”.
  • Digital Drive County Durham: Businesses based in County Durham can access grants of up to 40% towards the cost of digital technology projects. In the present situation, this can include helping businesses purchase digital equipment and consultancy to enable them to work remotely, including, for example, laptops, mobile devices or cloud-based software.

Other interesting reading

Other reading. Image by Pexels from Pixabay