Coronavirus (Covid-19) Hub

Covid-19 : Business Support 20.05.20 – Update 33

We have updated our UK Business Support summary document (click here) for the recent developments on the Coronavirus business support initiatives, some of which we have circulated via email in recent days. This includes:

o NI Micro-business Hardship Fund – the fund was launched on Friday to assist NI based micro-businesses and social enterprises unable to access the £10,000, £25,000 and Covid-19 Childcare Support grant schemes. The level of the Hardship Fund grant will be:

  • up to £10,000 for businesses which pay business rates on premises
  • up to £5,000 for those that do not pay business rates

In order to ensure that the £40 million budget is not exceeded, the final amounts awarded will depend on the number of successful applications. The fund is now open for applications (click here) and will close on 12th June. The online application process takes approximately one hour to complete, you can save your application and return to it at any time. Payments will be made after the scheme has closed, and the number of successful applications is determined.

o Rates relief for specific sectors – yesterday the NI Executive announced a further one month extension to the rates holiday, so eligible business ratepayers will not be charged rates for April, May, June and July.
Furthermore the executive announced that the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic will pay no rates for the full financial year up until 31st March 2021. Those sectors include hospitality, tourism and leisure, retail (excluding certain supermarkets and off-licences), childcare and Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport and the City of Derry Airport.

o Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26th May. This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13th March 2020. To use the online service you will need the Government Gateway user ID you got when you registered for PAYE Online. If you did not register online you will need to enrol for the PAYE Online service.

o Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CLBILS”) – from 26th May firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £200 million of finance (up to 25% of turnover). The initial maximum loan size available was £50 million.

o The Future Fund – the Future Fund scheme is now open to applications until the end of September 2020. The key features of the scheme include:

  • The Fund will match up to 100% of the amount provided by investor(s), up to a maximum of £5 million;
  • The loan amount provided to the company ranges from £125,000 to £5 million;
  • Amounts of loans must be at least matched by co-investment from investors.
  • The loans will have a minimum of 8% per annum (non-compounding) interest charge applied.
  • The loan will mature after 36 months.
  • The loans will convert into shares in the company in certain circumstances, including an exit or a new funding round.

o Innovate UK Continuity Grants – Innovate UK is offering up to £90 million in advance paid grants to SMEs and third sector organisations who are existing Innovate UK award holders and who are at risk of abandoning their project due to a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds directly related to COVID-19. These grants are for eligible organisations that expect to have a funding gap (between £25,000 and £250,000) in the remaining period of their project because they are facing loss or damages, such as reduced access to capital, cancelled orders or increases to costs, and are therefore seeing cashflow disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme is open for applications.

o Innovate UK Continuity Loan – Innovate UK is also offering up to £210 million in loans to SMEs and third sector organisations that have a challenge in continuing a live project for which they are have an award from Innovate UK. Loans are for organisations that that find themselves facing a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds resulting directly from the COVID-19 pandemic. This innovation continuity loan may be suitable if you need funding of between £250,000 and £1,600,000. The scheme is open for applications.

o InterTradeIreland Emergency Business Support Programme – ITI have since changed the method of allocating Service Providers from a rotational basis to business being able to select their preferred Service Provider from the list.

ASM Contacts

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Grainne Quinn – Magherafelt

Ian Finnegan – Newry

Caroline Keenan – Belfast

Michael P. O’Hare – Dundalk

Alistair Cooke – Dungannon