Main content

Coronavirus Business Support

Icon’s recent Coronavirus survey indicated that many conservators are awaiting further clarification of available Government support measures.

This confirms Icon’s view that there is a notable need for further business support advice to help people navigate and access different support options and is a call for action that has featured continuously in our recent lobbying and advocacy work.

To help our members and the wider sector, we have compiled a digest of available support for businesses and freelancers below.

UK Government financial support

Information on key support measures:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme where small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to March 19 and available for at least three months, with the first grants to be paid within weeks.
  • Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to help eligible freelance workers receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least three months.  Those eligible will receive a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the three years up to 2018/19.
  • Deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June - representing a £30bn injection into the economy.
  • £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses. The Chancellor has extended the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme so that all viable small and large businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.
  • Grant schemes - Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will be eligible for a £25,000 cash grant per property, for each property that has a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. These businesses will also have a business rates holiday for the 2020/21 tax year.
  • HMT Future Fund - A package of measures to support pre-revenue firms such as innovative and competitive companies in the tech and creative sectors. These bridging loans, as well as extra support from Innovate UK and the British Business Bank, will bring much-needed aid to businesses across DCMS sectors.
  • £20m worth of grants for small business in England. Small and medium sized businesses will have access to grants of between £1,000 - £5,000 to help them access new technology, equipment and specialist advice.


Devolved administrations

Some aspects of business support are devolved. Specific information for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales is available. 

Northern Ireland




Funding from arms-length bodies

  • The National Lottery Heritage Fund announced £50m for a Heritage Emergency Fund to support organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature. The Heritage Fund will also deliver £92 million worth of grants to protect heritage sites. The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage will support organisations that were financially sustainable before Coronavirus, have exhausted all other financing options, and are now at risk of failure. ​Conservators are specifially mentioned as being eligible. 
  • Historic England have also launched a £2 million Emergency Response Fund to help tackle the impact of Coronavirus across the heritage sector. The fund will provide support to small heritage organisations and skilled craftspeople to survive the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, and to prepare for recovery. Historic England's Heritage at Risk Fund will award grants to those who care for some of England’s most significant historic sites to help fund urgent maintenance, repairs and investigations where our support is most needed. 
  • Arts Council England will distribute over £500 million in Culture Recovery Fund grants to support institutions across the arts and cultural sector including museums in two rounds. The fund offers financial support for cultural organisations that were financially stable before the Coronavirus, but are now at imminent risk of failure.
  • Arts Council of Wales is investing £27.5 million in Cultural Recovery Fund grants to help organisations stay afloat as part of the Welsh Government's £53 million emergency fund. Use this tool to check your eligibility for the grant.
  • Museums Galleries Scotland will administer a £4 million Museums Resilience and Recovery Fund to support sites facing the immediate costs of staff returning from furlough and the reopening of buildings, archives and offices.

Other business support

  • Craft Sector Hardship Fund: Icon has collaborated with The Radcliffe Trust and the Crafts Council to  award 150 makers with a £500 hardship bursary. Icon members are eligible for this bursary where their areas of practice coincide with the funding priorities of The Radcliffe Trust
  • Construction Industry Helpline: Telephone helpline and app for the construction industry delivering emotional and financial support including information, advice and guidance on many financial and wellbeing topics. 


Return to Coronavirus guidance hub