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Government Schemes


**NEW on 15 October** 


The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme opened for businesses in Derry City and Strabane District Council area yesterday and will open for all Council areas on Monday 19th October.
It is estimated the cost of rolling the scheme out to all councils will be £35m for four weeks.
Under the scheme businesses will receive the following amounts for every two weeks they are closed:  
  • Small businesses (not exceeding £15k Net Annual Value) - £1,600
  • Medium businesses (over £15k Net Annual Value and not exceeding £51k Net Annual Value) - £2,400
  • Large businesses (over £51k Net Annual Value) - £3,200
The Scheme that will apply to businesses, subject to eligibility criteria, includes:
  • Cafes, pubs and restaurants that have been temporarily forced to close or limit their services to a takeaway service instead;
  • Hotels and guest houses;
  • Close contact services using commercial premises such as hairdressers and barbers, beauty salons, day spas, nail bars and tattoo parlours forced to close; and;
  • Other businesses which, under the Health Protection Regulations are required to cease to carry on that business or to provide that service, include cinemas, museums, galleries, trampoline parks, inflatable parks, escape rooms, bowling alleys and ice rinks. 
Businesses in the Derry and Strabane Council area who have already applied to the scheme do not need to re-apply - they will automatically receive the higher payment.
For more info and to apply click here



The Executive has agreed a range of significant time-bound interventions to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

In addition to current household restrictions, the following measures will come into regulatory effect on Friday 16th October and will be in place for a period of four weeks:
  • Bubbling to be limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households;
  • No overnight stays in a private home unless in a bubble;
  • Closure of the hospitality sector apart from deliveries and takeaways for food, with the existing closing time of 11.00pm remaining. 
  • Other takeaway premises will be brought in line with hospitality with a closing time of 11.00pm;
  • Close contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians are not permitted to open, apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics. 
  • No indoor sport of any kind or organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level;
  • No mass events involving more than 15 people (except for allowed outdoor sporting events where the relevant number for that will continue to apply);
  • Gyms may remain open but for individual training only with local enforcement in place;
  • Funerals to be limited to 25 people with no pre- or post-funeral gatherings; 
  • Off licenses and supermarkets will not sell alcohol after 8.00pm;
  • Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships to be limited to 25 people with no receptions.  This will be implemented on Monday 19 October.  Venues providing the post-ceremony or partnership celebration this weekend may remain open for this purpose but may not provide other services for people who are not part of the wedding or partnership party and this will be limited to 25;
And the following advice will be added to the existing health guidance:    
  • Work from home unless unable to do so;
  • Universities and further education to deliver distance learning to the maximum extent possible with only essential face to face learning where that is a necessary and unavoidable part of the course;
  • No unnecessary travel should be undertaken.
The half term holiday break for schools and colleges will be extended to a two-week break to run from 19th to 30th October. 
Places of worship will remain open with a mandatory requirement to wear face coverings when entering and exiting.  This will not apply to parties to a marriage or civil partnerships.
The retail sector will also stay open at this time. Further engagement is planned to ensure that the sector does everything it can to help suppress the virus.
The Executive will urgently engage with sectors and work on support for those affected as a matter of priority.


A new financial support scheme for businesses affected by restrictions which came into effect on 5th October in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area has opened for applications.
Opening the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme for businesses in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, Finance Minister Conor Murphy said: “The Executive is determined to get support out as quickly as possible to businesses that are subject to local restrictions. I hope that the first payments from this scheme will be made within days of applications being received and approved.
“The payments I’m announcing today are higher than the equivalent scheme in England. The largest businesses receive the equivalent of £3,200 per month.
“The restrictions announced by the Executive today will impact upon a wider range of businesses than those currently covered in the Derry City & Strabane scheme and we will factor this into future support packages.”
Under the scheme businesses will receive the following amounts for every two weeks they are closed:  
·       Small businesses (not exceeding £15k Net Annual Value) - £800
·       Medium businesses (over £15k Net Annual Value not exceeding £51k NAV) - £1,200
·       Large businesses (over £51k Net Annual Value) - £1,600
The Scheme that will apply to businesses in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, subject to eligibility criteria, includes:
·       Cafes, pubs and restaurants that have been temporarily forced to close or limit their services to a takeaway service instead;
·       Hotels and guest houses that have been temporarily forced to limit the provision of services for residents only; and
·       Other businesses which, under the Health Protection Regulations are required to cease to carry on that business or to provide that service, include cinemas, museums, galleries, trampoline parks, inflatable parks, escape rooms, bowling alleys and ice rinks. 
Referring to the restrictions across all council areas under the Health Protection Regulations announced by the Executive today, Minister Murphy continued: “I am acutely aware that the restrictions announced by the Executive today will have a profound impact not only on the hospitality sector but right across the economy and many businesses including those in the supply chain.
“Along with my Executive colleagues tomorrow be considering how best to use the additional £200m and what economic interventions we can make to get much needed support to businesses and protect livelihoods.”

Full Story and Application Form 
Finance Minister Conor Murphy announces new Grant scheme for hospitality business in North West 

The scheme will see eligible businesses get up to £600 per week for the duration of the restrictions. Making the announcement, Minister Murphy said:  “The restrictions imposed in Derry & Strabane are necessary to preserve lives, but they have a very damaging impact on the hospitality sector. Today I am introducing a Grant Support Scheme to assist those businesses forced to temporarily limit their operations.

“Small businesses will receive £800 for every two weeks they are closed. Larger businesses will receive £1,200 for two weeks. This is above comparable schemes on these islands.”

The grant scheme is in addition to the 12 months rates holiday which continues until the end of March 2021.  Minister Murphy continued: “The Executive is doing its best to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19.  However, the main support needed for businesses which cannot trade fully is wage subsidy.

“The end of the British Government’s furlough scheme at the end of this month is therefore deeply worrying and I again call for this scheme to be extended, particularly for businesses forced to close.”  

For full press release click here.

New NI Executive Covid19 restrictions in place 1st October 2020

Council services are currently under review to ensure they adhere.

• No indoor gatherings should take place where people from different households are mixed, with certain exemptions in place for: weddings, wedding receptions, funerals and post funeral gatherings (existing restrictions and strict social distancing requirements continue to apply); services of worship in places of worship; indoor sport for individual training only (e.g. no exercise classes); workplaces where working from home is not possible; educational settings; managed youth and childcare services.
• Hospitality venues can remain open for take-away, delivery and outdoor dining only. Wet pubs can serve customers outdoors only. Existing restrictions for outdoor settings will continue to apply. Hotels can only provide services to residents as per previous restrictions. A support package for affected venues will be brought forward.
• All museums, galleries and cultural attractions must remain closed and libraries can operate a call and collect service.
• Outdoor gatherings are permitted, up to a maximum of 15 people only. There cannot be gatherings of more than 15 people even with a risk assessment.
Sports training and sporting events are exempt but they must take place without any spectators.
• These restrictions will be in place for a time limited period of a minimum of two weeks, and will be reviewed weekly.

In addition, the following measures are recommended in guidance:

• People living in Derry and Strabane local government district area are required to avoid all unnecessary travel. Similarly, people should only travel to the area where it is absolutely necessary.
• People working in the Derry City and Strabane District Council should continue to work from home where possible.
• Schools, Early Learning and Childcare services in the local government district area will remain open. Adult and Higher Education Institutions will also stay open. Managed youth settings will remain open. However, in these settings, protective measures should be reviewed and steps should be taken to limit congregation as much as possible.
• People are asked to walk, cycle or use private transport, shared only with members of their household where possible. Where public transport is taken, social distancing should be observed and face coverings should be worn.

Government Winter Economy Plan Just Announced 24 Sept 2020:

The government is introducing a package of targeted measures in response to the current economic context that will enable businesses to protect jobs and manage their finances in the face of reduced or uncertain demand with:

  • Support for businesses to bring people back to work and save jobs with a new Job Support Scheme and an extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

  • Help for the hospitality and tourism sectors through a continuation of the reduction in VAT

  • Support for over 1 million businesses to relieve pressure on their finances and cashflow through an extension to the application period for four government-backed loans schemes, and changes to the terms of repayment for Bounce Back Loans (BBLS) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS)

  • New payment schemes to ease the burden of paying deferred VAT and Self-Assessment tax liabilities.

  • See below for specific support available for employment and business, further details on this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/winter-economy-plan/winter-economy-plan


Further support for employment

The government’s aim through all of these schemes has been to prevent skills from fading, maintain strong employment relationships between workers and firms, and support the self-employed. The new schemes the government is introducing will reinforce that objective, while ensuring that businesses can adapt and evolve to the prolonged challenge of COVID-19. Further technical details of the schemes will be available on gov.uk.

  • Job Support Scheme – To support viable employers who face lower demand due to COVID-19, and to keep their employees attached to the workforce, the government will be introducing a new Job Support Scheme from 1 November 2020. Employees will need to work a minimum of 33% of their usual hours. For every hour not worked the employer and the government will each pay one third of the employee’s usual pay, and the government contribution will be capped at £697.92 per month. Employees using the scheme will receive at least 77% of their pay, where the government contribution has not been capped. The employer will be reimbursed in arrears for the government contribution. The employee must not be on a redundancy notice. The scheme will run for six months from 1 November 2020 and is open to all employers with a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme. All Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) will be eligible; large businesses will be required to demonstrate that their business has been adversely affected by COVID-19, and the government expects that large employers will not be making capital distributions (such as dividends), while using the scheme.

  • SEISS Grant Extension – The government recognises the continued impact that COVID-19 has had on the self-employed and has taken action to provide support. The SEISS Grant Extension provides critical support to the self-employed. The grant will be limited to self-employed individuals who are currently eligible for the SEISS and are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. The scheme will last for 6 months, from November 2020 to April 2021.

The extension will be in the form of two taxable grants. The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November until the end of January. This initial grant will cover 20%of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £1,875 in total. The second grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February until the end of April. The government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.


Easing the burdens on business

Extending the temporary VAT reduced rate for hospitality and tourism – To continue supporting the cashflow and viability of over 150,000 UK businesses and to protect 2.4 million jobs the government is extending the temporary reduced rate of VAT (5%) from 12 January to 31 March 2021. This will continue to apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises, supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK.

Extension of access to finance schemes – The government is extending the following temporary loan schemes, which have helped over a million businesses to date, to 30 November 2020 for new applications:

  1. Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) 
  2. Coronavirus Business Interuption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 
  3. ​Coronavirus Large Business Interuption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) 
  4. ​Future Fund 


Additional Support

  •  CBILS loan extension – The government intends to allow CBILS lenders to extend the term of a loan up to ten years, providing additional flexibility for UK-based SMEs who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans.

  • VAT deferral ‘New Payment Scheme’ – The government will give businesses which deferred VAT due in March to June 2020 the option to spread their payments over the financial year 2021-2022.

  • Enhanced Time to Pay for Self-Assessment taxpayersThe government will give the self-employed and other taxpayers more time to pay taxes due in January 2021, building on the Self-Assessment deferral provided in July 2020.​

  • COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility which will remain open until 22nd March 2021.  Where a company has exhausted all other options, and is of strategic importance to the UK, the Govt may also provide bespoke financial support. 

  • Pay as you Grow – The government will give all businesses that borrowed under the BBLS the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years. This will reduce their average monthly repayments on the loan by almost half. UK businesses will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which they can use up to three times), or to pause their repayments entirely for up to six months (an option they can use once and only after having made six payments). These changes will provide greater flexibility to repay these loans over a longer period and in a way that better suits businesses’ individual circumstances.