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Newly Self-Employed Scheme

This scheme is designed to provide support to newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. 

The scheme is administered by Invest Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy. The Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS) will offer an initial one-off taxable grant of £3,500 to newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) that meet the criteria outlined below.

The scheme will close to applications on 5 February 2021.


NSESS is open to sole traders or individual members of a partnership business operating in Northern Ireland.

You must be able to demonstrate that you (as the individual) meet the following criteria:

  • You have commenced trading as self-employed between 6 April 2019 and 5 April 2020.
  • You have been trading at 1 March 2020 (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • You have either been temporarily unable to trade or are currently trading but impacted by reduced demand, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Over 50% of your income in 2019/20 was from self-employment. If you moved from paid employment (PAYE) to self-employment during 2019/20, you do not need to take into account the income from the paid employment when calculating this percentage. However, you will need to submit your P45 from your previous employer as evidence to support this.
  • Your 2019/20 trading profits were less than £50,000. In the case of a partnership business, this refers to your share of the trading profits as outlined on your individual tax return.
  • You have experienced at least a 40% decline in trading profits between 1 March and 30 November 2020, i.e. your trading profits over this period are at least 40% lower than they would have been in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • You are able to provide the following:
    • 10-digit HMRC Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) linked to Schedule D earnings from any trade or profession.
    • HMRC VAT Registration Number, if you are VAT registered.
  • You intend to continue to trade as a sole trader or individual member of the partnership.

Who cannot apply?

A sole trader or individual member of a partnership business is not eligible for NSESS if: