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COVID-19: Business Advice and Support

Friday March 27th 2020

As more businesses become affected by COVID-19, there are various resources to help all businesses online. You can find out more at the links below.*

General COVID-19 Related Advice and Support
NI Business Info General information on related business support, including answers to FAQs on managing staff health, pay, leave and absence, business operations and finance. Also includes a Coronavirus News section with full information and support to help manage the imapct of COVID-19 in your business.
Public Health Agency Guidance for businesses and employers on support available, as well as poster resources to use on site to help with communications to employees.
The Executive Office The most recent announcements from The Executive Office are detailed on its news section, which provides details and links to various schemes etc.
HMRC Guidance for businesses on tax. The helpline allows any business or self-employed individual who is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice.
Time To Pay Helpline: 0800 0159 559
Income Tax Payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
Federation for Small Businesses Advice and guidance on reducing the risks from the Coronavirus to you and your business targeted at small businesses and the self-employed.
UK Government Advice Advice and support for businesses from the UK Government. It includes details of support packages available to businesses due to COVID-19.
Invest NI Invest NI provide advice and support through its NI Business Info web site. Invest NI’s business support team is also available on 0800 181 4422.
Tourism NI Tourism NI are providing targeted advice and support for businesses operating in the Tourism sector through their website, as well as a dedicated COVID-19 Business Support Helpline on 028 9592 5313 (Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm).
Federation of Master Builders The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) provide advice and support for businesses in the construction industry and its workforce. As well as a dedicated section on their website, members make use of their advice services by telephoning the FMB Helpline on 0116 243 7623 (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm).
Guidance for Food Businesses Guidance and advice for food businesses/operators including best practice on food hygiene, managing employee sickness, social distancing and specific situations.
Hospitality Ulster Information available online to assist members with legal advice including e.g. furloughing and job retention schemes.

Please contact 07736 284 764 for further advice.

NI Hotels Federation The Federation has been working across many strands to assist members with the Coronavirus situation. This has included producing a Toolkit of advice, lobbying for business relief and support and engaging with marketing agencies to prepare for a resumption of normal business.
Arts and Business NI Engagement Seed Fund As part of their Investment Programme, Arts & Business NI have designated a £15,000 seed fund to support arts organisations and individual practitioners.
Social Enterprise NI A source of information focusing on social enterprise business and organisation support during COVID19.
HSENI COVID-19 Update Information for employers on health and safety matters in response to COVID-19 and HSENI contact details.
The HSENI has also produced an example risk assessment which shows the kind of approach HSENI expects a small business or workplace to take when carrying out a risk assessment for COVID-19 in the workplace.
NI Chamber COVID-19 Information Hub This hub provides up-to-date information on business support schemes available from the government, advice and guidance on internal HR issues, such as sick pay, and the work NI Chamber is doing with government to ensure that Northern Ireland businesses make it through this crisis.
Enterprise Nation This page is to keep small businesses updated of government moves, support schemes for small business, and pro-active advice on how to keep trading through the epidemic. You can also access topical podcasts and ask advisers your specific questions.
Matrix NI Coronavirus is causing significant issues in the science & tech sectors in NI. This is a regularly updated list of resources and available support, plus offers and requests for help.
Essential businesses and services to remain open. The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed new powers to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The regulations came into effect at 11.00 pm on Saturday 28 March and provide clarity on what retail services and other venues may remain open in Northern Ireland and which should close immediately. The link takes you to a list of essential and non-essential businesses and sevices.
PSNI Crime Prevention Unit The PSNI Crime Prevention unit has produced updated national crime prevention advice for retailers and business owners during the current emergency.
Emergency Volunteering Leave A new, temporary, statutory right is available for eligible workers to take Emergency Volunteering Leave to help the Health and Social Care system in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Department for Communities If you are an employer and you require help to advertise job vacancies or have queries relating to the services available for employers you can phone the DfC Employers Services helplines or alternatively you can email: 02382 376 692 or 028 9053 9458

Financial Assistance
Rates Relief There will be a three month rates holiday for all business ratepayers, excluding public sector and utilities.
The Small Business Rate Relief scheme will be continued in 2020-21. The rates of relief and thresholds for eligibility have not changed.
The Hardship Rate Relief scheme is available for non-domestic ratepayers who have been affected by exceptional circumstances.
The Executive budget announced on 31 March also includes a reduction in business rates. For more information visit NIbusinessinfo.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme The government will pay a grant to cover 80% of furloughed workers wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per employee per month.
Deferment of VAT Payment VAT payments for all UK businesses will be automatically deferred for 3 months for payments that would otherwise arise during the period from 20 March – 30 June 2020.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme CBILS is a new scheme, announced by The Chancellor at Budget 2020, that can provide facilities of up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow.
Department for the Economy (DfE) Business Support Grant Schemes: The Northern Ireland Executive has announced two grants will be available to local businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Businesses in Northern Ireland will be able to access the following schemes:

  • COVID Small Business Grant – A grant of £10,000 for all small businesses who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme (ie all businesses with a NAV up to £15,000). Open from Thursday 26 March 2020. For info visit NI Business Info or contact the LPS Small Business Grant Scheme Helpline on 0300 200 7809.
  • Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme – An immediate grant of £25,000 for companies in these sectors with a rateable value from £15,000  up to £51,000.

​Businesses that wish to offer their services to the DfE during the pandemic can email in the first instance. 

Department for Finance Business Rates Advice and Support – grants available to businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief.
COVID Corporate Finance Funding (CCFF) Programme for Large Companies Assessed through the Bank of England administered scheme, the BoE purchases commercial paper from companies on similar terms to those prevailing prior to COVID-19 crisis.
Self-emploment Income Support Scheme The Government have announced a range of measures to support those who are self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This scheme will allow self-employed individuals and members of partnerships to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.
The Prince’s Countryside Fund The Prince’s Countryside Fund is inviting applications for emergency funding from farming and rural community support groups, who are providing assistance to counter the effects of isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Heritage Emergency Fund The £50m fund from The National Heritage Lottery Fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000.

It is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.

Other related information for businesses
Ventilator Readiness – Call to engineering firms The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the United Kingdom as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19
EU Horizon 2020 Funding Extended Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market. Applications are now extended until 15 April 2020.
Companies House Accounts Filing Extension From 25 March 2020 businesses will be able to apply for a 3 month extension for filing their accounts. This joint initiative between the government and Companies House will mean businesses can prioritise managing the impact of Coronavirus.
TechForce19 Innovation Funding NHSX is calling on all innovators who can support the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating during COVID-19 to apply for government funding of up to £25,000 to test their solution. applications close 1 April 2020.
UKRI Research and Innovation Opportunity UKRI have announced an open call for research and innovation ideas to address COVID-19. Proposals are invited for short term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
UK Government Request for Business Support in response to COVID-19 Businesses can use this service to tell the UK Government how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus (for example, with the manufacture of medical testing equipement, PPE for healthworkers, expertise in ICT, communications and other business areas, or provision of hotel rooms).

*Last updated Thursday 2 April 2020 .

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