The NI Executive has introduced a new Hardship Fund to help those Northern Ireland based businesses that are unable to access other regional and national coronavirus support measures.
The Department for the Economy (DfE) is making up to £40 million available through a fund to be administered by Invest Northern Ireland on its behalf. The money will offer emergency funding to small businesses facing immediate cashflow difficulties due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds, said the scheme would be open for online applications within the next seven days, along with an eligibility checker.
Only one grant will be paid to each eligible business, irrespective of how many properties it occupies.
Who is eligible for the Hardship Fund
Businesses must meet the following criteria before applying to the fund:
• The business must be based in Northern Ireland.
• At 29th February 2020, the business must have employed between one and nine employees paid via PAYE, except where the sole employee is the business owner or company director.
• Since 1st March 2020, the business must have experienced a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis or associated Government restrictions.
Who cannot apply for the Hardship Fund
The NI Micro-business Hardship Fund is open to all small businesses excluding the following:
• Primary agricultural producers i.e. those primarily concerned with crop or animal production or forestry or logging or fisheries or aquaculture. However, those agricultural businesses associated with the processing, marketing and retail of agricultural products may apply.
• Businesses eligible for the following NI Executive schemes:
- £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme
- £10,000 Small Business Grant for rental properties and Total Net Asset Value of £1,590 or below
- Those receiving the £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant
- Those receiving the COVID-19 Childcare Support Scheme
Ms Dodds said: “This fund should mean that around a third of all businesses in Northern Ireland will now be able to access support under the Northern Ireland COVID-19 grant schemes.”