ENI have proposed an immediately actionable Practical Action plan to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, aiming to expedite clear guidance and mitigations for businesses on liquidity, survival, and critical business operations as they face the impact of Covid-19.


                                                                   AVAILABLE SUPPORT (Updated 08/05/2020)



What’s in place

Detail - applicable in NI.



25% Business Rates reduction

·       All NI businesses.









·       Available from 1st April ‘20.

·       Pay the 75% in instalments from July ‘20 to March ’21.



Enterprise Northern Ireland continuing to lobby for rates charge cancellation being extended as part of our 10-Point Plan for Recovery.




Statutory Sick Pay Rebate (SMEs)

·       Cover up to 2 weeks SSP per employee who has been off work due to Covid-19








·       Employers fewer than 250 employees eligible.

·       Employers should maintain records of staff absences.

·       Employees will not need to provide a Doctors fit note.

·       Waiting on advice from government on the system for how employers can reclaim this.


 Job Retention Scheme.

Government will cover up to 80 per cent of staff wages, up to £2,500 per employee for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off as a result of Covid-19 impact.






Employers will need to:

1.       Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed employees’ Consultation (reps or union) may be necessary at initial stage of process. Notify employees of the intended change.

2.       Portal operational with payments already flowing to businesses on the scheme.


Comprehensive guidelines through links below:





Enterprise Northern Ireland lobbing for an extension of the scheme beyond 30th June to facilitate a gradual return for businesses in some sectors.






           What’s in place

                                                          Detail - applicable in NI.


Business Interruption Loan Scheme (BILS)

·       Loans up to £5m, guaranteed by government. Government to cover first 6 months interest.










Bounce-Back loan for Micro businesses.


Open for applications:

·       Accessible through main banks in NI and a number of programme and sector specific lenders – see full list here:

Lenders can provide lending through:

·       Term Loans

·       Overdrafts

·       Invoice Finance

·       Asset Finance

Government backed scheme delivered through network of accredited lenders to help SMEs borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.



Comprehensive guidelines:



Enterprise Northern Ireland continuing to lobby for More NI lenders being fast-tracked onto CBILS to widen scope and reach of this support loan.





Hardship Fund for Micro Businesses - NI

·       Scheme aims to assist businesses with less than ten employees.

·       Funding available to businesses which have not qualified for the £10,000 small business grant and the £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure scheme.

·       Social enterprises and small charities will be able to access if they meet the eligibility criteria.

·       Details including eligibility criteria available during w/b 11 May 2020.


Enterprise Northern Ireland have lobbied strenuously for businesses that had fallen between the cracks on other schemes to be included in this scheme.





       What’s in place


                                                    Detail - applicable in NI.





·       Grants to small businesses eligible for
         Small Business Rate Relief
- £10,000












25,000 grants to retail, hospitality tourism and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000


·       Available in NI. - Available to all sectors.

·       Payments have been made to eligible business accounts where LPC hold bank details

·       Eligible businesses who have logged details through portal will be checked and should receive direct payment or an email to explain why not, within 1 week.


·       Businesses should be encouraged to chase applications and appeal negative decisions if they feel their claim is falling through the cracks


Up to date guidance here:


  Enquiries about the Small Business Grant Scheme call

  Tel: 0300 200 7809. The helpline is open Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm.


·       Scheme open and processing claims.

·       Businesses should be encouraged to chase applications and appeal negative decisions if they feel their claim is falling through the cracks




Enterprise Northern Ireland continuing to lobby for a wider-reaching scheme to cover businesses who have fallen outside of the early criteria.


Our lobbying in recent weeks have influenced the widening of the scheme to include a big number of businesses.




Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)


Allows the self-employed individuals or members of partnerships to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.


·       A taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the past 1-3 tax years (2016 to 2017), (2017 to 2018) and (2018 to 2019).

·       Portal for claims will be available on 13 May 2020.  Eligible claimants will have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim.

·       Details on eligibility and claims process:

Enterprise Northern Ireland continuing to lobby for a wider-reaching scheme to provide for start-ups and newly self-employed who set up during the past 12 – 18 months. 



        What’s in place


                                               Detail - applicable in NI.


Self-employed and your earnings ceased or have been negatively impacted and fall outside of eligibility criteria for self-employed scheme - you can claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria.



Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed from 6th April

This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.




You can claim for universal credits online:



VAT deferral.

No business will pay any VAT until the end of June; and will have until the end of the financial year to repay those deferred bills.





·       No application required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Enterprise Northern Ireland continuing to lobby for VAT deferrals being extended to the next 2 quarters, with deferred bills repaid during Y/E March ’22, with no interest or penalty charges

    Tax payment deferral (self-

If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.


·       ‘Time to Pay’ support from HMRC:

·       Businesses can call HMRC Helpline: 0800 0159 559.

·       For those who are unable to pay due to coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangement  
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately


FREE online training & development.

The Department for Economy are funding a range of short courses providing an opportunity for individuals to use their time at home to prepare for the future.

·       Aimed at furloughed and/or recently laid off

·       Information and links on all of the courses available:

Creative Sector Support Fund


1.       Individual Artists/Practitioners Fund




2.       Small organisations Fund

·       Individual artists/creative practitioners, who have lost work as a result of Covid-19, can apply for funding of up to £5,000. Programme available now. More on criteria and to apply:

·       Small organisations can apply for maximum funding of £25,000 to help them develop new projects or re-arrange events which have had to be cancelled.

·       Application forms and Guidance Notes available from the Arts Council in May (soon)


        What’s in place

                                           Detail - applicable in NI.


FAQs & Advice through Invest NI

·       Invest NI are updating a useful FAQ and signposting facility on their website.





Invest NI Business Support Line now advice and signposting on Covid-19 related issues. (ALL SECTORS)


Tourism (NI) Helpline
Covid-19 related issues and government support for TOURISM Businesses.


    0800 181 44 22



    028 95 925313 (Open 7 days/week 9am-5pm)