21 May 2020
Covid-19 Business Support Updater- Main Developments
Key Updates Include:
Ø Launch of NI Hardship Fund for
Micro-Businesses: Update and change in position since the publication of the
Ø Closure of the Small Business
Support Grant Scheme and guidance for those who have submitted an application;
Ø Extension of the Furlough Scheme
and provision for part-time furlough (with cost-sharing between employers and
Government) from 1 August 2020;
Ø Extension of the business rates
holiday to include July 2020.
Ø Guidance on health and safety
issues and NI Executive Strategy for decision-making on lockdown.
NI Micro-Business Hardship Fund
The Department for the Economy has
launched a £40 million hardship fund offering emergency funding for
micro-businesses suffering cash flow difficulties. Micro-Businesses are defined
as those with between one and nine employees paid via PAYE at 29 February 2020.
Businesses where the sole employee is the owner/director
are not eligible for the scheme (please note this position has changed since
the publication of the Writ ezine, after initial guidance had suggested this
category would be included).
The final amounts awarded will
depend on the number of successful applications received. In that context,
members who think they may be eligible may want to consider an application at
the earliest opportunity. Available payments will extend to up to £10,000 for
business ratepayers and up to £5,000 for non-ratepayers.
In terms of eligibility, key conditions
Ø The business must be NI-based and have seen
a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% since 1 March 2020 as direct result of
Covid-19 or associated government restrictions;
Ø The scheme is designed to target those who
have not received a grant of £10k or £25k under the Small Business Support
Grant Scheme and therefore those benefiting from these schemes are not
information on eligibility and the online portal for applications can be found here.
Closure of the Small
Business Support Grant Scheme
The scheme closed to applications at 23.59 on 20 May.
Guidance for those who have an application lodged or who experienced
difficulties with the online form can be found here. Similar guidance is available for those
clients who were eligible for the £25k grant here. For those tenants
not liable for rates the guidance is here.
of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘Furlough Scheme’) and Introduction of
Part-Time Furlough in August 2020
The UK Government has
announced a further extension to the furlough scheme, which will continue in
its current form and conditions until the end of July 2020. From
the beginning of August through to the 31 October, the Government has indicated
a more flexible operation of the scheme will be introduced. This will allow businesses to bring back
employees on a part-time basis, whilst continuing to receive support from the
scheme for part-time furlough.
The Government has stated that
employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their
furloughed staff to bring it up to the 80% level currently being paid wholly by
government. We currently await further details on this
scheme, including the cost-sharing arrangements. The Government has said this
will be available at the end of May.
information can be found here.
of the Holiday for Business Ratepayers
Department of Finance has announced that there will be a one-month extension to the rates holiday for all businesses,
meaning that no rates will be charged
for April, May, June and July 2020. Businesses in the retail/hospitality and
certain other sectors will benefit from a 12-month holiday.
information is available here.
Date for the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
The UK Government has
announced that the online system to reclaim SSP will launch on 26 May 2020.
Further guidance on the operation of the scheme can be found here.
Income Support Scheme (‘SEISS’)- Online Applications Launched
The online portal to check your eligibility and make an
application is now live. You can find further information and the link
to make an application here. HMRC webinars on the scheme can be found here.
Executive and UK Government Guidance on Safe Working Practices During Covid-19
and NI Executive Lockdown Strategy
The UK Government has published
workplace safety guidance for office spaces. It has been developed by the
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (‘BEIS’) in London, with
input from stakeholders and the devolved administrations. It is designed for
those not able to work from home and for preparation for when office working
guidance is clear that despite this, public health is devolved and this
guidance must be read in line with the guidance from the Northern Ireland
Executive, local health and safety requirements and applicable legislation in
The NI Department for the Economy Guidance
(developed with stakeholders) and priority sector list can be found here.
The Northern Ireland Executive Strategy for Exiting Lockdown, including
the phased relaxation of restrictions can be found here.
The BEIS guidance can be found
here. More guidance on health and safety can be
of the Future Fund
The Future Fund for certain
UK-based businesses has now opened, providing government loans ranging from
£125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private
investors. The scheme is open for applications until the end of the September
2020. Members will have seen reference to this in our most recent Covid-19
Further information on the
scheme can be found here.
of the Available Facility under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption
The Government has announced
that from 26 May, larger businesses will be able to borrow up to £200 million
under the scheme (it is currently capped at £50 million). Further information
can be found here.
The above information will be
built into an updated ninth edition of the business support information notice,
which will be made available in the member’s section of the website. The
Society will continue to monitor developments and update members on the support
measures available. It is important for members also to continue to monitor
government guidance and keep pace with developments in the still fast-moving
picture on business support.
For any queries in relation to
business support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org