Covid-19 / Coronavirus Information

Supporting Our MEA Businesses

Supporting Businesses

This page sets out the current advice and support available to businesses in Northern Ireland to help them deal with the issues arising as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Should you have any questions or wish to discuss any of the support available, please do not hesitate to contact Council’s Economic Development Team on:


T: 028 2563 3345
T: 028 2563 5036

You can also keep up to date with the latest information on the NIBusinessInfo website

Business Mentor Webinars

Dear business owner,

Our entire business community is facing huge and unprecedented challenges as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

As Chief Executive, I have put the entire resource of our Economic Development team at your disposal during this time.

We are providing businesses across Mid and East Antrim with the full assistance, support and resources of our Economic Development team.

Our staff are on-hand to help you in any way they can - be it advice on accessing grants, staffing queries, wages, Government support packages, and the very latest, up to date information.

Council is in daily contact with our key stakeholders, including Invest NI and the relevant Government Departments and we are making representations to them for all the support required for our businesses in Mid and East Antrim.

In parallel, we continue to reach out to as many business owners as we can and strongly encourage you to get in touch with us.

Our businesses are resilient, innovative and determined, and as a Council, we will continue to do everything we can to assist you throughout this crisis.

Anne Donaghy

Chief Executive

Government Support for your Business

Keep up to date with the latest information here.

Guidance for NI companies can be found here.

Guidance for working safely in different business settings can be found here.

Murphy allocates £74 million

The Executive have agreed on further funding allocations of £74 million including £25 million towards the health workers recognition payment.

Announcing the allocations, Finance Minister Conor Murphy said: “The Executive has agreed to provide £25 million to offset the impact of National Insurance and tax deductions to the £500 recognition payment."

“A further £20 million is being allocated for my Department’s Localised Restrictions Support Scheme to continue financial assistance to businesses through the extended restrictions. So far over £180 million has issued to over 13,800 businesses through this scheme. 

“I’m also allocating £0.5 million to provide a retrospective payment to soft play facilities.”

Minister Murphy continued: “I’m providing £10 million to enable the Belfast Harbour Commissioners to access borrowing for investment projects which will generate significant employment opportunities and enhance our capability to attract foreign direct investment.

“I’m also allocating £2.5 million for the A6 Derry to Dungiven and £16 million for NI Water Pension shortfall.”

Minister Murphy continued: “I continue to urge Ministerial colleagues to bring forward proposals as soon as possible, given the pressing need for funding to be allocated before the end of the financial year.

Northern Ireland is to get a further £300m from the UK government to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic

The money can be spent now or carried into the new financial year in April, which the Treasury says shows "unprecedented flexibility". Stormont ministers have been concerned that extra funding they received in December will not all be spent and some may have to be handed back.

Funding allocations have become more complicated during the pandemic.

Normally Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get a population-based proportion of new spending for England. In July 2020, the government decided to give the devolved institutions money upfront without having to wait for it to be spent in England first.

The UK government initially announced a guarantee of an additional £12.7bn on 24 July which has now been uplifted four times. Northern Ireland has now been allocated a total of £3.3bn in that way.

The further funding was welcomed by Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

Summary of Additional Support Announced for Businesses

On 20 March, the Chancellor announced new steps to provide support for businesses affected by the coronavirus.

These measures include:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Deferral on VAT payments
  • Increase in the Universal Credit allowance
  • Business loans and lending facilities
  • Support for the Self Employed

Visit the NIBusinessInfo website for more information.

A new ‘support finder’ tool has been launched to help businesses and self-employed to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic visit:

Support Finder Tool


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) - also known as the furlough scheme, is being extended until 30 April 2021 with eligible employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Find out more here.

Free online training places 

For people whose employment has been disrupted by the pandemic.  

More details of the courses available and how to access them are available here.


Invest NI has introduced a new response scheme to help companies recover from the business challenges caused by COVID-19.

The Productive Investment Capital Grant (PICG) will support businesses to make productivity-focused capital investments to adapt to these challenges.

PICG is open to any businesses operating in manufacturing, construction, information and communication, or professional, scientific and technical activities. Existing Invest NI customers, or businesses that can become an Invest NI customer, can also apply for PICG.

The call for applications is open until 5pm on Thursday 25 February 2021.

What is available?

Businesses can access up to a maximum grant of up to £250,000 to improve productivity by investing in new technology and processes, software and knowledge acquisition, automation or the adoption of digital manufacturing technologies.

The proportion of costs supported will range from 20-50%, up to a maximum of £250,000 grant, depending on the size of company involved (i.e. micro/small, medium or large business).

For more information click here.
£3m fund to help retail micro-businesses move online

The Covid-19 Micro-business E-commerce Grant has been developed by Invest Northern Ireland to help retail micro-businesses grow their business online. It follows on from the success of Invest NI’s Covid-19 Digital Selling Capability Grant.

Micro-sized retailers are those employing fewer than 10 people, with retail premises and which derive the majority of their turnover from retail customers.

Some of the eligible activities covered by the scheme include engaging the services of a supplier to review your current digital marketing capabilities and online sales channels, develop an e-commerce strategy, develop or enhance your e-commerce website or online presence to drive increased sales or to help improve the digital marketing and e-commerce capability of the employees in the business.

Eligible businesses will be able to receive a maximum grant of £5,000 towards up to 80 per cent of eligible costs. 

The call for applications will close at 6pm on Friday 12 March 2021.

£10m support scheme for wet pubs

The Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme (WPBSS) will provide £10.6m to drink-only public houses which were forced to close between July 4 and September 23.

The schemes will use datasets held by Land & Property Services, as well as an additional verification check completed by DfE (including self-declarations relating to the qualifying period of time the business was closed and the submission of bank statements to evidence the relevant trading position). Payments will issue to eligible wet pubs without an additional application process.

Payments will be based on the Net Annual Value (NAV) rating of the business. The payment structure, which is consistent with that of the Local Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS), is set out below:

Total NAV £15,000 and less:  £800 per week x 12 weeks
Total NAV £15,001 to £51,000:  £1,200 per week x 12 weeks       
Total NAV over £51,000:  £1,600 per week x 12 weeks        

Roll out of the scheme commenced the 11 January 2021. Qualifying Wet Pubs will be identified by my Department from a list of recipients of the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme provided by Land & Property Services.  The Department will be contacting them before the end of January 2021. Businesses will be asked to supply supporting information to ensure all recipients are correctly identified and minimise the risk of fraud and error. Once applications are verified payments will be made as soon as possible thereafter.

Localised Restrictions Support Scheme

The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS) is for businesses that are forced to close because of government restrictions that have premises or are a tenant in premises.

Payments range from £800-1,600 for each week a business is closed.

If a business has previously applied, it does not need to re-apply and will automatically get a top-up for the six weeks starting from 26 December in a lump sum payment of between £4,800-£9,600.

Find out more here.

Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme

Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme was launched on 16 October 2020 to support those businesses directly impacted by the latest Health Protection Regulations. The Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme is for some not eligible for the LRSS.

The scheme is divided into two; Part A and Part B.

Part A is for businesses forced to close that don't have a premises, for example, driving instructors or hairdressers that rent a chair. Eligible applicants are entitled to £600 per week they are closed in a payment that will be made in one lump sum. If a business has previously applied, it does not need to re-apply, payments will be made automatically.

Part B is for businesses that are in the supply chain of those businesses forced to close because of restrictions and have seen a 40% reduction in turnover, for example, a food producer or a wedding photographer.  Grants of between £2,400-4,800 are available depending on the size of the business. Those who don't pay rates can get a grant of £1,800.

Full details on both Part A and Part B of the CRBSS, including an eligibility checker, are available here.

Part A.
Part B.

The scheme is now open for new applicants.

Apprenticeship Recovery package plan -

Return, Retain and Result

Employers are offered £3,700 for every apprentice brought back from furlough - £500 return payment, £2,000 for the employer who retains the apprentice for 4 months following return from furlough and £1,200 when the apprentice completes their qualification.  Also, £3,000 will be available to employers for each new apprenticeship opportunity created 1 April 2020 - 31 March 2021.

The scheme commenced on 1 November 2020. For more information visit here.

The application form is available here.

Employers may also be interested in the new Apprentice Recruitment Incentive which offers up to £3,000 for each new apprenticeship opportunity created – information can be found here.

Covid-19 Self-Isolation Grant

The non-repayable Discretionary Support Self-Isolation Grant assists with short-term living expenses where a person on a low income or any member of their immediate family are diagnosed with Covid-19 or advised to self-isolate in accordance with guidance published by the Public Health Agency. 

The financial support available will vary according to the period of financial need and individual circumstances.

To check out if you are eligible and apply for the Discretionary Support Self-Isolation grant click here or telephone (Freephone 0800 587 2750).
SSP for Small & medium-sized UK based businesses and employers 

Covers up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. 

Visit here for more information.

New support scheme for large tourism and hospitality businesses

The Large Tourism and Hospitality Business Support Scheme (LTHBSS) will provide support to large businesses in these sectors which have been significantly impacted by the Health Protection Regulations put in place by the Executive. The scheme will provide additional financial support to help these businesses meet fixed costs and overheads associated with the survival of their businesses and the protection of jobs.

LTHBSS will be open to businesses that have a total Net Annual Value of £51,001 and above which meet the following criteria:

  • The business is named within the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 AND The business is eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS);
  • The business is operating in Northern Ireland and was trading immediately prior to 16 October 2020.

The grant payment paid to businesses should not exceed the maximum levels of State aid permitted under the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework.
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.

The Department has identified over 250 eligible businesses in Northern Ireland with a total NAV of £51,001 or more. It will follow a tiered payment support structure ensuring that businesses with higher NAV’s receive a higher payment reflecting higher fixed costs The scheme will make a one-off payment based on weekly amounts of between £2,400 and £41,900 depending on an individual business’ NAV.

Eligible businesses will receive a single grant payment based on the relevant weekly amounts - eight weeks of support for the period of restrictions to 11 December 2020 (10 weeks in the case of businesses located in the Derry City and Strabane District Council Area) PLUS six weeks of support the period of restrictions from 26 December 2020 to 6 February 2021.

For example, businesses, where the NAV is £51,001 to £60,000, will receive £2,400 per week. This will increase to £2,900 per week for businesses where the NAV £60,001 to £70,000 and £3,400 per week for businesses where the NAV is £70,001 to £80,000. This pattern continues up to a NAV of £600,000.

From £600,001 onwards the NAV bands are widened to £100,000 with increments of £2,500. For example, £31,900 per week for a business with a NAV of £600,001 to £700,000 and £34,400 per week for a business with a NAV of between £700,001 and £800,000. Finally business, where the NAV is £1,000,001 or greater, will receive a maximum of £41,900 per week.   

The Department will contact eligible businesses to provide an application form (with a unique application number). Once the application form has been fully completed and returned with the required supporting evidence, it will be assessed and a grant payment will issue in March.

£4m scheme to support B&Bs, guest houses and guest accommodation

The Bed and Breakfast, Guest House and Guest Accommodation Scheme –  opens on January 28 – and will support around 900 providers to continue to deliver much-needed tourist accommodation in 2021 and beyond.

The scheme, which will be administered by Tourism NI, will provide a grant to support eligible businesses on a flat per room amount plus a percentage of 2019’s turnover.  The inclusion of turnover gives some recognition to business performance. The maximum grant any one business can receive will be capped at £12,500.

Tourist accommodation providers meeting the following criteria will be eligible for the Bed and Breakfast, Guest House and Guest Accommodation Scheme:

  • the tourism accommodation provider must be compliant with the Tourism (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 and have received certification from Tourism NI;
  • the accommodation was certified by Tourism NI and operational on or before 23 March 2020;
  • the accommodation has an active listing on the Tourism NI consumer website as at 1 April 2020;
  • the accommodation adheres to the various regulations applicable to tourism accommodation including but not limited to the following – fire safety regulations, liquor licensing laws, package holiday regulation and food hygiene etc;
  • the accommodation is fully tax compliant (registered with HMRC and all relevant tax filing with HMRC are up to date) on the date of application;
  • the tourist accommodation provider was viable prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and has taken all reasonable steps to safeguard the viability of the business.

Support received under previous grant schemes will be considered in calculating the level of grant under this scheme. For example, a business which received the £10k Small Business Support Grant would only be able to access £2,500 under the Tourism NI Scheme. Businesses that received funding as part of the £25k Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Scheme will be excluded from the Tourism NI scheme.

Eligible businesses will be able to apply online through the Tourism NI Flexigrant system. The grant will be paid by electronic transfer to the business bank account detailed on the application form. 

Second financial support scheme for taxi-drivers

The second taxi scheme will provide support to drivers covering the 12 month period from 22 March 2020 to 21 March 2021.  

It aims to address two issues:

first, to provide further support to all eligible taxi drivers for this 12 month period, and second, to now provide financial assistance specifically for those drivers who have had partial insurance during this period.

The application process has also been simplified to address the concerns raised by the sector and this time round drivers will be able to directly contact the Department through a dedicated information line for the scheme. Drivers who were unable to work because they were shielding, but still incurred the overhead costs, will also be able to apply for this new scheme. 

The maximum amount of support available will be £3,000, including any payment already made under the first scheme, and will be dependent on the number of days that taxi drivers had insurance in place over the period. It is, in addition, to support for self-employed taxi drivers from other schemes such as the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Full details about the scheme and how to apply is available here.

The information line for applications is 028 9054 0605. This number is available Mon-Fri 9-00am-5.00pm. 

£2m Covid-19 financial support for hatching egg sector

Agriculture Minister Gordon Lyons MLA has announced a financial support package worth up to £2m for poultry farmers producing hatching eggs who were impacted last year by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister outlined the £2m poultry support scheme, explaining that: “Minister Poots met with representatives of poultry farmers producing parent stock and hatching eggs for Moy Park Ltd, and recognised the financial impact that falling demand for hatching eggs, particularly in international markets and interdependencies within the supply chain, had on the local industry. To offset the losses incurred by these farmers during the time it has taken for markets to recover, there is up to £2m of financial support from the Covid-19 fund.

The Minister went on to say: “This support will address the financial impact of depleting laying flocks earlier than normal, and cash flow consequences of longer intercrop periods for both rearing and laying farms.”

When the scheme opens later this month, eligible farmers will be contacted and asked to complete a simple application form to claim their payments. Further details and explanatory information will be published on the DAERA website at that time.

Over 11,300 farmers and growers have already received almost £19m to offset the losses incurred as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the local agri-food sector in 2020.

The Childcare Sustainability Support Fund

The Childcare Sustainability Support Fund developed for the period 1 September to 31 December, 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 4 December from daycare and school-aged childcare settings, childminders, eligible playgroups and crèches. 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.

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 – SEE BELOW.  

Full details of the eligible providers and the available amounts, including the opportunity to apply for funding will be available here.

The Childcare Temporary Closure Support Fund

An extension to the Covid-19 Childcare Temporary Closure fund for the period January to March 2021 has been announced.

The Covid-19 Childcare Temporary Closure Support Fund will provide continued support for childcare providers who have been forced to close temporarily due to a Covid-related incident within their provision.   

The Covid-19 Temporary Closure Fund is open from 24 February 2021 for applications from eligible daycare and school-aged childcare settings, childminders, crèches and playgroups.

Grant payment will be made according to the type and size of the provider. Eligible childcare providers will be able to apply for funding via Early Years – the Organisation for Young Children website.

Find out more here.
Covid Recovery Fund

This fund will help to safely deliver essential services during the Covid-19 crisis, with an allocation of £2.5m to assist with the safe reopening of the VCSE sector and additional funds of £800,000 to provide IT and digital devices to VCSE groups which need to move services to an online platform.

Groups can apply for awards up to £5,000 for purchase of PPE and IT and digital devices. Further information is available here.

Loan Funding

Emergency loans scheme for three million excluded from Government support for Self Employed and Sole Traders

The Small Business Interruption Loan Service allows self-employed and sole traders to pool together financial support from a trusted network. The Small Business Interruption Loan Service (SBILS) has been unveiled by a raft of fintech firms, with the backing of MPs and in association with ExcludedUK – which has been joined by tens of thousands of self-employed and small business owners not eligible for Covid-19 financial help.

The scheme works as a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform, which has been provided by P2P lender JustUs, working alongside Covid-response fintech taskforce BBFTA. It comes amid disappointment that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement failed to offer an extension of the current emergency loans support for sole traders and self-employed.

The number of UK businesses and sole traders not able to qualify for Government support stands at around three million, such as the newly self-employed, self-employed that earn over £50,000 and directors paid in dividends. The SBILS alternative lending platform is set to help more than 50,000 of the excluded businesses.

Small firms and the self-employed will be able to apply for SBILs by downloading the Moneybrain app from July 10.

If the application review is successful, the SBILS teams will help businesses build a loan request campaign, which they can use to source funding from their network. Once fully funded, money is received within 24 hours.

Borrowers on the platform will not need to make repayments for the first 12 months, with an initial 3% interest rate rolled up for the first year.

The interest rate then increases up to 8%, depending on the loan amount.

Bounce Back Loan scheme

The Bounce Back Loan scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover.  The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.  After 12 months, the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.

If you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, from 10 November you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount.

You must request the top-up by 31 January 2021. Further information here.

Coronavirus Small/Medium Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

CBILS helps small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million. The government guarantees 80 per cent of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months.

For more information click here.

The scheme is open for applications until 31 January 2021.   

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

This loan will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of over £45 million. 

There is also an option of a loan up to £200 million criteria apply.

This scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021.  

Find out more here.

Lending Facility for Larger Firms

The Bank of England will buy short-term debt from larger companies which will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities; support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

New update as of 6 April 2020 

For more information visit the NIBusinessInfo website

Trade Credit Insurance guarantee

Trade Credit Insurance provides cover to business to business transactions, particularly in non-service sectors, such as manufacturing and construction. It insures suppliers selling goods against the company they are selling to defaulting on payment, giving businesses the confidence to trade with one another.

Due to Coronavirus and businesses struggling to pay bills, they risk having credit insurance withdrawn, or premiums increasing to unaffordable levels. To prevent this from happening, the government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market.

This will support supply chains and help businesses to trade with confidence as they can trust that they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment.

How will the guarantee work?

The guarantee will be delivered through a temporary reinsurance agreement with insurers currently operating in the market. The government will work with businesses and the industry on the full details of the scheme to ensure firms are supported and risk is appropriately shared between the government and insurers.

The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the intent is for agreements to be in place with insurers by end of May 2020.

The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover CV-19 economic challenges, and will provisionally last until the end of the year. It will be followed by a review of the TCI market to ensure it can continue to support businesses in future.

Further details will be announced in due course on the NIBusinessINfo website.

NI Small Business Loan

Part of the Invest NI Access to Finance Strategy providing loans of £10-£15,000 to start-up businesses and £10-£100.000 for established businesses.

The NISBLF II funding can be used as well as the Bounce Back and CBILS loans.

To find out more visit or call: Michael Carlin T: 07545250658 or Donal Leahy T: 07999751095

Tax Liabilities

HMRC “Time to Pay” Support


Firms  and  individuals  who  are  in  temporary  financial  distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities may apply to HMRC to defer tax payments.

For more information on the Tax Helpline to support businesses affected by Covid-19 visit the Gov.UK website here.

Assistance for the firms and individuals T: 0800 024 1222


Rates Relief

For Full information on Rates relief click here.

Rates relief saw hospitality, retail, leisure, tourism, childcare businesses and airports in Northern Ireland given a 12 month rates holiday last year that takes them up until 31 March 2021.

Note A reduced VAT rate of 5% for hospitality and accommodation is in place until 31 March 2021.


VAT Payments

Over half a million businesses that deferred VAT payments last year can now join the new online VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme to pay it in smaller monthly instalments, HMRC announced. (23 February 2021).

In order to take advantage of the new payment, scheme businesses will need to have deferred VAT payments between March and June 2020 under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme. They will now be given the option to pay their deferred VAT in equal consecutive monthly instalments from March 2021.

Businesses will need to opt-in to the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme. They can do this via the online service that opens on 23 February 2021 and closes on 21 June 2021.

Payments can easily be set up through the new payment scheme portal.

Businesses can spread their payments with 2 to 11 equal monthly instalments, interest-free. Payments can start from March 2021, and the earlier businesses opt-in, the more instalments are available to help spread the cost and provide further support.

Eligible businesses that are unable to use our online services can ring the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 024 1222 to join the scheme until 30 June 2021.

Further information

The scheme is open to businesses that deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 (under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme) and still have payments to make.

They can:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full, on or before 31 March 2021
  • opt-in to the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme online between 23 February and 21 June 2021
  • contact HMRC by 30 June 2021 if they need to agree on extra help to pay

You can pay your deferred VAT in 2 to 11 consecutive instalments starting in March, April, May or June 2021, without adding interest.

Those joining online are able to set up direct debit payments. The joining date is slightly longer for those unable to use our online services due to the way payments are processed.

Visit here for more information.

The HMRC Coronavirus Helpline 0800 024 1222 is open 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, except bank holidays.


Universal Credit Allowance

All claiming Universal credit including the Self Employed

Eligibility Refer to the Understanding Universal Credit website.

How to claim

New claimants do not attend the jobcentre, you can claim online via NIDirect's Universal Credit section.

Employees can read guidance on the Gov.UK website's Guidance to Employers and Businesses section.

You can obtain support for your rental costs via the universal credits. Furthermore, from April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area. 

This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

For more information visit the NIBusinessInfo website.

Limited Company Director's Support Scheme

Dodds announces £20m support scheme for company directors. 

The Minister said £20million will be available for the Limited Company Directors Support Scheme (LCDSS). The scheme will open for applications at 6pm on Thursday 21 January.

Grants are NOW up to a maximum of £3,500 available.

The scheme will be delivered by Invest Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy.

More information and eligibility criteria for the scheme are available here.


The UK Government recognises the continued impact that coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the self-employed and has taken action to provide support. 

To access information visit here.

It has been extended to include a third grant covering the period from November 2020 to January 2021 and a fourth payment to cover February-April 2021.

The third grant will be 80% of average monthly profits in a single instalment, covering three months, capped at £7,500 in total. Details of the fourth grant have yet to be released.

Newly Self-Employed


Economy Minister Diane Dodds has announced amendments to the eligibility criteria for the Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS).

The NSESS is supporting those who commenced self-employment in 2019/20 and have been adversely impacted by Covid-19. Eligible applicants receive a one-off taxable grant of £3,500.

The amendments to the scheme are:

Only income from current employment will be taken into account when applying the 50% income from self-employment rule.

This means that taxable income such as pensions and benefits will not be taken into account in the calculation.

If income from current employment is less than £12,000 then the 50% criteria will not be applied.

Applications for NSESS close at 6pm on Friday 19 February 2021.

For more information visit here.

Other support

3-month extension period to file accounts

From 25 March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts.

Companies citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.  Read more on the Gov.UK website.

You must apply for the extension. 

For more information visit the Gov.UK website.

Tourism Sector Advice

Hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes will see a temporary cut in their VAT from 20% to 5% as the Chancellor’s Summer Statement gave a boost to the sector hardest hit by coronavirus.

Tourism NI  has set up a COVID-19 Business Support Helpline.

T: 028 9592 5313, lines open Monday to Sunday 9am - 5pm. 

Backup Hardship Fund

In light of the devastating impact of COVID-19, Backup – The Technical Entertainment Charity, is announcing the creation of a separate initial Hardship Fund, which will provide limited financial assistance to crew/production personnel and people working in the technical supply chain across the UK entertainment sector, including those from live events, theatre, TV and film, and the technical supply chain to the industry.  

With the help of its supporters, including “We Make Events”, Backup has raised £100,000 to date, with Light Relief agreeing to match this funding with a further £100,000, targeted to help support the lighting community. This means that there will initially be a total fund of £200,000 allocated to this Hardship Fund, with further fundraising in progress.

Applications for the Backup Hardship Fund Round 3 will open between Monday 4 January to Monday 25 January 2021.

For more information visit the Backup website

Multiscreen Freelancers Fund

Multiscreen Freelancers is a pilot fund that encourages Northern Ireland interactive companies (video games, immersive) to engage with freelancers from other screen sectors (film/TV, animation, VFX, documentary etc.) and arts sectors (live events, theatre etc.) that have skills which could be used to add value to interactive projects. The aim of the fund is to encourage greater collaboration between interactive companies and other screen/arts industries, as well as supporting freelancers in refining transferable skills which can be used on interactive projects.

Due to the impact of Covid-19 on the traditional screen sectors such as film/TV, as well as the arts, there is a group of talented freelancers currently with less work, or not working at all, with skills which can add value to interactive projects and support the development of the Northern Ireland interactive sector.

For example:

  • A live sound engineer mixing sound for VR
  • A film fiction writer supporting narrative design for an RPG game
  • A production coordinator providing planning and scheduling support
  • A gaffer providing advice on how to light a scene in a video game cut scene

Multiscreen Freelancers will run from November 1 to March 31 and Northern Ireland Screen will support the cost of a freelancer position up to £2,000 per month. Freelancers can be engaged for any length of time; however, the latest companies can apply for the support is Dec 15 with positions starting at the latest 1 Jan. All positions should finish by March 31.

For more information visit the Northern Ireland Screen website 


The Future Fund scheme

The Future Fund scheme will issue loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.  

Deadline 31 January 2021.

For more information visit the NIBusinessInfo website.

The Facebook Small Business Grants Programme 

Facebook is offering approximately £84 million in cash grants and advertising credits on its ad platform for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.

For more information visit the Facebook website