Businesses in Northern Ireland will be able to access a mix of UK-wide coronavirus support schemes and specific measures announced by the devolved Stormont Assembly to reduce the impact of the covid-19 pandemic
HMRC has published specific guidance for businesses in Northern Ireland outlining the UK-wide Covid-19 grants and loans, including the 80% furlough rules, while the devolved Northern Ireland Executive and Invest NI, Northern Ireland's regional economic development agency, have set out a package of measures on specific devolved covid-19 measures.
The Northern Ireland Executive has announced a £367m package of grants to provide funding to some 30,000 business in Northern Ireland, with information available via Invest NI.
Businesses in Northern Ireland can access a Covid Small Business Grant of £10,000 for all businesses with a rateable value up to £15,000. This will be automatically paid into the accounts of eligible direct debit rate payers. Registration is now open for other eligible businesses to apply.
Under the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors grant scheme, £25,000 will be provided to companies in these sectors with a rateable value from £15,001 up to £51,000.
The Northern Ireland Department for Economy, part of the devolved administration, will be announcing further details on how to apply for this.
In his Budget statement of 31 March, Stormont finance minister Conor Murphy confirmed a £100m package allocated to providing a three-month rates holiday to all businesses in Northern Ireland. No application is required to use this aid. It will be shown as a 25% discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.
The NI Budget statement also confirmed an effective 18% reduction in the Stormont determined portion of business rates (ie, the non-domestic regional rate) compared to the 2019-20 figure; an extension of the existing Small Business Rate Relief scheme for one year; and a deferral in the issuing of rates bills until June.
Tourism NI has also set up a dedicated helpline - 028 9592 5313 - and online enquiry facility to support the Northern Ireland tourism industry.
UK-wide Covid-19 measures
In common with the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland businesses are eligible for government furlough grants worth up to 80% of wages to keep workers in jobs. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme pays up to £2,500 per worker each month.
There is support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), providing loans of up to £5m, with no interest due for 12 months.
For larger businesses the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable loans of up to £25m for firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m.
There are also changes to the statutory sick pay (SSP) regime and HMRC’s time to pay offering, in line with those announced previously. VAT payments for the next quarter will be deferred, so no business will pay any VAT for the next three months.
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of Covid-19 will be protected from eviction.
Report by Pat Sweet, additional reporting by Sara White
Northern Ireland devolved guidance
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