Covid-19: How governments are supporting European businesses

Francis Mercer
2 mins

  • Business banking

There’s no doubt about it. This is an unprecedented and challenging time for businesses across Europe. Unfortunately, now is a time for many businesses to survive, rather than thrive. Throughout the European Economic Area, businesses are calling for support to make it through this time of crisis.

As an e-money institution we cannot extend lines of credit to our customers, but there are a host of other options available if your business needs access to funds. Banks are lending more, often backed by government, and government-backed startup funding is increasing throughout. However, we know that finding the right information is not always easy for owners and directors of European businesses.

Two of the most active governments in supporting businesses have stepped forward - we’ve outlined their responses in more detail below.

Businesses in Sweden

Sweden’s approach to the Covid-19 crisis has been praised in many media outlets for its balance of draconian measures to stop individuals from spreading the coronavirus with a pragmatic, people-focussed approach. In terms of support for Swedish businesses, the central government is taking on sick pay responsibility for two months, introducing tax and social security reductions and covering costs for workers where working hours are reduced. The Swedish central bank is also lending SEK 500 billion to companies through Swedish banks. For startups, there’s even a helpful Slack channel for entrepreneurs to share ideas and support.

For a full list of the measures on offer to support Swedish businesses, visit the Ministry of Finance.

United Kingdom

In the UK, the government has announced an extensive package to support businesses and also startup businesses more specifically.

Companies deemed non-essential have been forced to close their physical premises during the enforced ‘lockdown’, but the government has at the same time promised to cover 80% of wages of staff being ‘furloughed’ during the Covid-19 crisis. As at 21 April British businesses had claimed £1.5 billion of the promised fund. In addition, the government has promised to underwrite bank loans for businesses facing cash flow problems as a result of the crisis. For startups, the government announced a mix of measures adding up to £1 billion of support.

Government support in other European countries

If your business is based outside Sweden or the UK, don’t worry. Just as banks and governments are stepping up their support for businesses at this time, so resources which help small businesses are growing in volume and quality. This list highlights the help available across many jurisdictions in the EEA, not just Sweden and the UK. It’s managed and updated regularly by startup news site Sifted so do keep checking back for new information as the situation is evolving constantly.

In our next blog, we’ll be looking at the ways in which businesses are adapting to the current environment, including ways of working and financial management. Until then, stay safe and stay at home.