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New Covid-19 support scheme for the newly self-employed to open at 6pm today

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has today (Thursday) announced a new Covid-19 support scheme for the newly self-employed.

The total budget allocated for the scheme is £10million.

The Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS) will open at 6pm today.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to be able to announce this new support scheme which will help thousands more businesses in need across Northern Ireland.

“It will provide financial support to newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) whose business is adversely impacted by Covid and who have not been able to access support from the UK government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.”

A one-off taxable grant of £3,500 will be provided. This will enable support to be provided to approximately 2,900 newly self-employed individuals.

Newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) will be eligible for the NSESS if they commenced trading as self-employed between 6 April 2019 and 5 April 2020 and their business has been adversely impacted by Covid-19.

Their trading profits for 2019/20 must be below £50,000 and over 50% of their income must be from self-employment.

Invest Northern Ireland will deliver the scheme on behalf of the Department for the Economy.

The scheme will close to applications at 6pm on 7 January 2021.

At scheme closure any underspend will be considered and a top-up grant may be paid to eligible applicants.

The Minister will present a scheme for limited company directors to the Executive and, subject to their approval, more details will be provided as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, new proposals to assist sustainability of the childcare sector have also been announced today.

Education Minister, Peter Weir outlined the plans following the allocation of £8.5 million funding in October for ongoing recovery and sustainability within the childcare sector.

The Childcare Sustainability Support Fund developed for the period September 1 to December 31, will:

– help childcare providers with the additional costs of operating within Covid-19 guidance; and
– provide financial support to childcare providers operating with reduced demand for services.

The Fund is open for applications on Friday, December 4 from daycare and school-aged childcare settings, childminders, eligible playgroups and crèches. A grant payment will be made according to the type and size of the provider. Eligible childcare providers will shortly receive an email inviting them to apply.

Peter Weir said: “Registered childcare providers offer safe and nurturing environments for children and it is important they remain open. As part of ongoing childcare recovery, the Childcare Sustainability Support Fund will provide short-term support for the sector to assist their ongoing sustainability and recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is essential that we continue to work together across the education and health sectors to ensure the availability of childcare provision and to support the economy, while at the same time ensuring parents can access safe and responsive care.

“I want to thank registered childcare providers for the essential work they do. Their hard work on the ground and determination to maintain services at this critical time is vital in helping us deal with the ongoing challenges facing society as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is a testament to their commitment that children have been able to continue to access positive developmental experiences in their childcare provision, and parents have been able to continue to work and provide important services for society.”

The Minister said his officials are currently working on a further funding scheme which will address temporary closures during the period September to December which will be announced in due course.

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