The NI Executive announced more financial support measures for businesses in Northern Ireland. The support includes an extension of the rates holiday and a new support scheme for travel agents.
Further Financial Support Announced for Businesses
The NI Executive has announced more financial support for businesses affected during Coronavirus.
Travel Agents Scheme
The Travel Agents Scheme will be a limited, time-bound scheme which will provide a flat payment of either £3,500 or £10,000 to eligible applicants.
Funding provided through the Travel Agents Scheme will help vulnerable but viable travel agents, including self-employed homeworkers, with the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational; with the cost of re-connecting with employees and customers and adapting customer marketing; and the cost of financial planning.
The scheme includes a flat payment of £10k to travel agency businesses operating from commercial premises, or £3.5k payment to self-employed travel agents working from home.
The scheme will be launched on 19 March 2021 and will be open until 26 March 2021.
The rates holiday for certain businesses in Northern Ireland has been extended by 12 months.
Businesses in the following sectors will pay no rates in 2021-22 for the second year running:
- Airports (Belfast City, Belfast International and City of Derry);
- Hospitality, tourism and leisure;
- Newspaper production; and
- Retail (excluding larger food stores and off-licences).
The rates holiday will be applied automatically.
Food stores with over 500m² of retail space, and off-licences will not receive the rates holiday.
Additional £177m in New Grants
The Finance Minister has announced further funds for new business support grants. These grants will help up to 20,000 businesses.
- £50,000 for businesses with a Net Annual Value (NAV) over £51,000 that are eligible for the 12 months rates holiday (retail, hospitality, leisure, tourism, manufacturing, childcare, newspaper producers).
- Examples of the kinds of business that this will benefit are shops, car showrooms, garden centres, gyms and fitness suites, equestrian centres, and caravan parks.
- The following exclusions apply: 3 main airports, businesses that qualify for the Department for Economy Large Tourism and Hospitality Business Support Scheme, sports clubs and culture, arts and heritage premises that qualify for one of the Department for Communities support schemes, food retail and petrol filling stations.
- As with the previous grant schemes, only one grant will be paid for businesses with multiple premises. Businesses with vacant properties and businesses in administration will not receive the grant.
- Businesses will have to apply for this grant.
- £25,000 payment for manufacturers with a Net Annual Value (NAV) between £15,001 and £51,000.
- Payments will be automatic.
- £10,000 payment for businesses that received the £25,000 Retail, Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Grant and have not been paid under the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme or Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme: Part B.
- Payments will be automatic.
- £5,000 for businesses that received the £10,000 Small Business Support Grant and have not been paid under the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme or Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme: Part B.
- Businesses which have ceased trading since the £10,000 grant was paid and those paid the £10,000 grant in error (including constituency offices and wind turbines) are excluded.
- Eligible businesses will include 'essential retail' currently allowed to remain open (such as hardware, butchers, home bakeries, delis, convenience stores, post offices, pet shops, pharmacies, paint and decorating shops, building suppliers, small manufacturing businesses, small professional services businesses (accountants, solicitors, financial services), allied health services (dentists, podiatrists, physiotherapists).
- Payment will be automatic.