Best practice in local government for self-employed and freelancers

Given the ongoing spread of the Coronavirus, we are providing generic guidance for members. Read more below about the best practice Councils are leading on to further support self-employed and freelancers in their borough during Covid-19.

If you have any additional best practice examples you would like to be included, please email

Community wrote to Council leaders across England and Wales to collate the best practice Councils are leading on to further support self-employed and freelancers in their borough during Covid-19.

Councils across the country recognise the vital importance of small and sole trader businesses within their economy and understand the vital role they will play in our economic recovery.

We’ve collated some examples of their best practice and encourage our members to sign post this practice with their Councils, and to explore the support available if they are based in any of the areas highlighted.

Wirral Council

  • Set up a Local Welfare Assistance Scheme to provide a safety net to the self-employed workers struggling to make ends meet as a result of the crisis. The Council has set aside £100,000 to help those worst affected whilst they await access to benefits such as Universal Credit.

Warrington Council

  • Improved their online business relief tool to ensure businesses who recently commenced trading receive support, grants and guidance. So far, they have supported 24 local start-ups and almost 300 self-employed people.

Cambridgeshire Peterborough Combined Authority:

  • Growth Hub triage service to support business growth through signposting and referring to existing business support provision and identify the gaps.
  • Weekly communications to all local businesses, including 1-2-1s and webinars
  • Augmentation of their Small Capital Grant Scheme ringfencing funds specifically for sole traders
  • Signposting to local lenders for Bounce Back Loans
  • Development of a local talent and retraining portal to help businesses in need of employees and connecting them with local people in need of employment

Staffordshire County Council:

  • Staffordshire County Council Emergency Grants schemes – a business fund to support small, micro and one person businesses that are not eligible for the grants and rate relief packages offered by the government. The grant is awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Chelmsford City Council:

  • Developed an agreement with COLBEA to provide the self-employed start-up advice, training courses and workshops, office space and networking.
  • Work with the BEST Growth Hub supporting the self-employed identify relevant programmes, initiatives and funding schemes to help their business grow.
  • Specific Cabinet appointment that covers small business.
  • Created an online business recovery survey to develop a greater understanding of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting local businesses.

Portsmouth City Council:

  • Established the Crowdfund Portsmouth Pay It Forward Scheme as a direct response to supporting the self-employed who are missing out on the current government financial support packages. The scheme helps local businesses, social enterprises and individuals to raise money from the crowd and unlock match-funding from the Council and other grants available.
  • Developed a dedicated coronavirus business support helpline for those unable to find support online or a guide through the available support.

South Oxfordshire District Council:

Swindon Borough Council

  • Developed a Local Welfare Assistance scheme and a Swindon Emergency Assistance fund to help provide residents with food, gas and electric.
  • Supporting households with Council Tax support to reduce the burden of having to pay Council Tax. By accepting ‘nil’ income declarations from households that rely solely on self-employed earnings, and providing any capital is less than £6,000, residents will be eligible.
  • Individuals will business property and rent and rates expenses, Rates Relief and Business Grants are available to help all small business.

Newport City Council

  • Distributing the business grants available and have so far paid out £24m to local business in just under four weeks.
  • Business support team linked to the Welsh Government’s economic resilience fund and is advising local businesses and residents on how to access funds and support.

Reading Council

Enfield Council


Full PDF version available below, alternatively, click here for a downloadable copy.



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