15 May 2020

Coronavirus: NI Micro-business Hardship Fund

The NI Executive has launched a new NI Micro-business Hardship Fund to help Northern Ireland based micro-businesses and social enterprises unable to access other regional and national COVID-19 support measures.

Department for the Economy (DfE) will make £40 million available through a fund, which is being administered by Invest NI on behalf of the Department for the Economy. It will offer emergency funding to businesses facing immediate cash flow difficulties due to the impact of COVID-19.

Summary of the scheme

The Minister for the Economy announced on 15 May 2020 that the scheme would open for online applications within the next seven days. An online eligibility checker will be available week commencing 18 May 2020.

Only one grant will be paid to each eligible business, irrespective of how many properties the business occupies.

Who is eligible

You can apply for the grant if:

  • Your business is based in Northern Ireland.
  • At 29 February 2020, your business employed between one and nine staff (excluding the business owner) paid via PAYE. The number of employees will be based on headcount.
  • Since 1 March 2020, your business experienced a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic or associated Government restrictions.
  • You are a social enterprise without charitable status and receive at least 60% of your turnover from trade in goods and/or services.
  • Your business is associated with the processing, marketing and retail of agricultural products.

Who cannot apply
The following are not eligible to apply for the grant:

  • Businesses where the sole employee is the business owner or company director.Businesses eligible for the following NI Executive schemes:
    - £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme
    - £10,000 Small Business Grant for rental properties and Total NAV of £1,590 or below
    - £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant
    COVID-19 Childcare Support Scheme
  • A primary agricultural producer, which is primarily concerned with crop or animal production or forestry or logging or fisheries or aquaculture.
  • Charities or social enterprises with charitable status.
  • Social enterprises, who receive less than 60% of income through trade in goods and/or services.

Other non-repayable Government grants related to COVID-19 will be taken into account and will be deducted, where applicable, from the final grant awarded.

How you can prepare to apply
If you are eligible to apply for the grant scheme, there are some steps that you can take to prepare for completing the online application form. See NIBusinessInfo's information - get ready to apply for the NI Micro-business Hardship Fund.

Full guidance on the scheme will be available next week.