Economy Minister Diane Dodds has unveiled a new support scheme to help businesses affected by the current Covid-19 restrictions.
The Minister said: “From the beginning of this crisis, we have directed our resources towards protecting our economy and then helping repair the damage to it.
“And recently we have seen the gradual reopening of our economy allowing more people to go to work or to run their businesses. Our business community has adapted because it needs to live and work alongside this virus, while it is still here.
“But this steady progress which had been built up since the start of the summer has been arrested for many. In some cases, it is even being reversed.
“These are difficult times for everyone and the business community is no different. Once again, they are being asked to make tremendous sacrifices in order to protect everyone’s health. Therefore, it is crucial that we continue to provide all the support we can.”
The Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme (CRBSS) – which will open shortly – will support businesses which meet the following criteria:
The business is restricted within the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 but is not eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS); or
The business is within the supply chain of businesses restricted by the Regulations and as a result has been significantly impacted; and
The business is operating in Northern Ireland and was trading immediately prior to 16 October 2020; and
The business is not included in the scope of funding already allocated to Executive Departments to respond to Covid restrictions.
Businesses which have failed to comply with a prohibition notice under Regulation 7 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020(b)) would not be eligible for support under the scheme.
Businesses impacted by the localised restrictions in place in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area from the 5 October 2020 will also be eligible for backdated assistance.
Businesses that are required to close but are not eligible for LRSS are eligible for a grant of £600 per week.
Businesses that are not required to close but are within the supply chain of businesses restricted by the Regulations and significantly impacted will be eligible for a grant of up to £800 per week. They must demonstrate that they are in the direct supply chain of one or more businesses restricted by the Regulations and have been significantly impacted. This element will open at a later date.
Eligible businesses are subdivided between those paying business rates and those not paying business rates.
Businesses paying business rates and experiencing a significant decline in turnover will receive a grant based on the Net Annual Value (NAV) of the premises they operate from:
£400 per week for businesses with a NAV that does not exceed £15,000;
£600 per week for businesses where the NAV exceeds £15,000 but doesn’t exceed £51,000; and
£800 per week for businesses where the NAV exceeds £51,000
The grants paid to businesses not forced to close but adversely impacted are equivalent to 50% of the grant payable under the LRSS.
Businesses not occupying commercial premises and experiencing a significant decline in turnover can apply for a grant of £300 per week. This is equivalent to 37.5% of the LRSS grant paid to businesses in restricted premises with a NAV that does not exceed £15,000. These grants will be made in a second tranche of payments at a later date.
The Minister also said she plans to bring forward two additional support schemes for the hospitality sector and the recently self-employed.
She said: “I have asked my officials to develop a tourism and hospitality scheme to address issues associated with current restrictions and a scheme to support those recently self-employed.”