Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland.
To help businesses and employers understand what the measures announced by the Chancellor mean for you, please use this page
to navigate the latest guidance for people in Northern Ireland.
Guidance for employees
Read all the latest guidance and frequently asked questions for employees including details about statutory sick pay and Universal Credit.
Guidance for self-employed workers
The UK Government has launched a Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which will support self-employed individuals
(including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Details on how to apply can be found here.
Sickness and disability benefits
Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be temporarily suspended for the next 3 months from Tuesday 17
March. No further action is required by any claimant as a result of this change. They will be contacted with advice on next steps.
Find out all the latest travel advice and sign up for travel alerts via the Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) website.
General guidance for employers
The UK Government has published extensive guidance for employers, including details on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19
and what to do if someone is suspected or confirmed to have the virus.
UK Government support for businesses
The UK Government has set out a package of measures to protect public services, people and businesses through this period of
disruption caused by COVID-19. Businesses in Northern Ireland can access the following schemes and announcements:
- Businesses will receive government grants worth up to 80% of wages to keep workers in jobs. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will pay up to
£2,500 per worker each month, helping those who are self-isolating or caring for loved ones.
- Support for businesses through the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which will provide loans of up to £5m, with no interest due for 12 months.
This scheme will be delivered through the British Business Bank.
- For larger businesses the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), will provide a Government guarantee of 80% to enable loans
of up to £25 million for firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.
- For innovative companies facing financing difficulties due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based
companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The Future Fund will launch in May 2020.
- Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees.
- Support for businesses paying tax.
- VAT payments for the next quarter will be deferred, so no business will pay any VAT for the next three months.
- Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to employers and the self-employed. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants.
Use this business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.
Northern Ireland Executive support for businesses
As some aspects of business support are devolved in Northern Ireland, Invest NI has provided practical advice for business online here.
Businesses in Northern Ireland can access the following schemes:
- COVID Small Business Grant – A small business grant of £10,000 for all businesses with a rateable value up to £15,000. This will be automatically paid
into the accounts of eligible direct debit ratepayers. Registration is now open for other eligible businesses to apply.
- Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme – A grant of £25,000 will be provided to companies in these sectors with a rateable value from
£15,001 up to £51,000. This scheme went live on 20 April.
Information on these schemes is available at NI Business Info
In his Budget Statement of 31 March, the Finance Minister confirmed a £100m package allocated to providing a three months rates holiday
to all businesses in Northern Ireland. No application is required to avail of this. It will be shown as a 25% discount on the annual rate bill for
The Budget Statement also provided for:
- an effective 18% reduction in the Stormont determined portion of business rates (i.e. the non-domestic regional rate) compared to the 2019-20 figure;
- an extension of the existing Small Business Rate Relief scheme for one year;
- a deferral in the issuing of rates bills until June.
Business support helplines
HMRC tax helpline
HMRC has set up a helpline for businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to COVID-19. The updated helpline number to support customers impacted by coronavirus is 0800 024 1222 and is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. HMRC have introduced this number to ensure extra capacity on their network so customers can get through to us more quickly. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected.
Invest NI helpline
Get help with your business online, or by calling the Invest NI helpline. Telephone: 0800 181 4422
Published: 22nd April 2020
Source: GOV UK, Northern Ireland Office, HM Treasury, and Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
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