This page will signpost you to the most up-to-date information and programme of support regarding the coronavirus, available for Businesses and Employers in the Lisburn Castlereagh area. Please check regularly for updates.

GOV.UK has published the following summary page for Businesses & Employers: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-guidance-information-for-ni-businesses-employers

GUIDANCE

Please follow the current public health advice on PHA website and government guidance on the NI Direct website.

Look out for family, friends and neighbours who are vulnerable.

All updates will be placed on our website, Facebook and Twitter.

A message from Alderman Allan Ewart MBE, Chairman of the Development Committee

As we continue to work together to minimise the spread of COVID-19 there are implications for our local economy.  This includes the required closure of certain businesses so they can play their part in ensuring less people leave their homes and adhere to social distancing guidance.  The council appreciates this is a stressful time for the business community and we are keen to keep working closely with you to ensure you have access to all the relevant advice and support at these times.

Our Business Solutions Team here at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council are here to help signpost and enable you to access this critical financial support. If you have any queries please visit our website or call our dedicated Business Support Helpline on 07715 269866 which will be available 9am-5pm Monday-Friday.

In addition, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council are still providing the Mentor Growth Programme, which offers free mentoring and advice for businesses. I would encourage you to visit our website or email us to apply for the Mentor Growth Programme, Digi Growth Programme, and join our mailing list for all relevant information regarding Business Support, including grants relating to the coronavirus situation."

Business Information

Specific to Northern Ireland

A single NI Direct page for Coronavirus is now available here www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19 ​

nibusinessinfo.co.uk has collated all those support schemes that are relevant to NI on the page below.

See under Coronavirus: News - www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/coronavirus

nibusinessinfo.co.uk is working on a (downloadable) quick-reference guide featuring all support available to NI businesses. We aim to have this tomorrow and will circulate then.


Tourism NI COVID-19 Online Support and helpline


Helpline tel 02895925313 – lines open 7 days 9am-5pm
Information also available on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
Submit online query also at above address. 

 

New Details Announced Small Business Grants UPDATE:

Registration is now open for businesses to apply for the £10,000 Small Business Grant Scheme. Automatic payments will be made to those eligible businesses whose bank account details are held for the purposes of paying rates by Direct Debit. The first payment in the Small Business Support Grant Scheme will be made on 31 March if not before.

Eligible businesses that don't currently pay business rates by Direct Debit can register for the scheme and provide their bank details by completing this online registration form

 

Rishi Sunak to unveil financial aid for self-employed

Rishi Sunak will announce an emergency package at Boris Johnson's daily Downing Street news conference, promising help for groups such as builders, taxi drivers, hairdressers and childminders. Updates of this will be provided in tomorrows newsletter. 

 

Food Standards Agency

It is very unlikely that you can catch #COVID19 from food.The FSA have published guidance for food businesses in response to the #coronavirus pandemic, they can be accessed here.

 

New HMRC Helpline Number

The tax helpline number has changed and is now 0800 024 1222.

 

Supplier Relief Due to Covid-19

Many suppliers to public bodies will struggle to meet their contractual obligations and this will put their financial viability, ability to retain staff and their supply chains at risk. In light of this, the Northern Ireland Executive has agreed contracting authorities should act now to support suppliers at risk, so that they are better able to cope with the current crises and to resume normal service delivery, and fulfil their contractual obligations when the outbreak is over.

Departments will continue paying government suppliers who provide goods and services for which demand has reduced or been paused temporarily due to Covid-19. This will ensure cash continues to flow through the supply chain & will help protect jobs.Guidance notes for Supplier Relief can be accessed here. 

 

Extra Protection For Businesses

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction, the government has announced.

Many landlords and tenants are already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly but the government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.

These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. More information can be found here.

 

Statutory Self Employment Pay

The House of Commons Public Bill Committee has published a proposed amendment to the Coronavirus Bill which, if approved, will give freelancers and self-employed people a guaranteed income of 80% of their monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years; or £2,917 per month, whichever is lower.

 

New HSENI Gudelines Announced

HSENI has produced guidance for occupational health providers, appointed doctors and employers on performing health/medical surveillance during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 

Business Support Grant Schemes

How will eligible businesses be identified?

The ratings system will be used as the mechanism to identify eligible businesses in Northern Ireland.

Last year’s rating list will be the basis for payment.

Businesses who are eligible as a result of revaluation are also being identified.

How will businesses receive payment?

Payments will be made directly into the bank accounts of eligible businesses. Bank details are held for just over 9,000 of small businesses who qualify. Payment can be expedited to those companies. 

The intention is for the scheme to be operational as soon as possible. More information can be found here.

For further information and frequently asked questions please click here.
 

Non-Essential Shops and Public Spaces Must Close

To slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the government has introduced new measures from 23 March 2020. These measures require that

  • All non-essential shops and community spaces must close
  • People must stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • All gatherings of more than two people in public must stop

These measures are effective immediately. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce the measures – including through fines and dispersing gatherings. For more information please visit: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-non-essential-shops-and-public-spaces-must-close

 

Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments. 

Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction; the government has announced.

Many landlords and tenants are already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly, but the government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.

These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.

 

25% Business Rates Reduction

For all NI businesses

  • Available from 1st April 2020
  • Pay the 75% in instalments from July to March 2021
  • This means no rates will be charged for April, May and June
  • For more info visit www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/node/23006

 

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate (SMEs)

Cover up to 2 weeks SSP per employee who has been off work due to Covid-19

  • Employers with less than 250 employees
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences
  • Employees will not need to provide a Doctors fit note
  • Waiting on advice from the government on the system for how employers can reclaim this

 

Business Interruption Loan Scheme (BILS)

Loans of up to £5m, guaranteed by government to cover the first 6 months interest

 

Grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief - £10,000

For your information there is clarity on the £10k grant. Account NI intend to start paying eligible businesses for whom they have bank details today Monday. Businesses don’t need to do anything. If Account NI do not have bank details they will be asked to upload bank details and the link will be promoted via  www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk

A reminder that eligibility was businesses with a net annual value of up to £15,000 and who qualify for Small Business Rates Relief will receive a grant of £10k.

There is a £25k grant also. A reminder eligibility was the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors will receive a £25k grant if they have a rateable value of between £15k and £51k.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – 80% of gross pay to a maximum of £2.5k per month paid for PAYE employees. Does not apply to self-employed. HMRC will run the scheme. Employers can reemploy workers recently made redundant.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme – first 12 months now interest free not just 6 months. Loan value remains up to £5m.

Universal Credit – increased by £20 per week.

We are awaiting details on the Business Support Grant Schemes today from DfE, which will be publsihed here: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-business-support-grant-schemes.

The Business Support team on 0800 181 4422 will be available to answer queries so please feel free to direct businesses to this helpline.

  • Available in NI
  • Available to all sectors
  • Advice on how to apply is expected within days (for both grants)

 

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council Mentor Growth Programme

This programme enables businesses to access expertise and impartial advice. Due to social distancing, this mentoring can be carried out via skype, email or any other digital methods at your disposal.

  • Most councils in NI have this or a similar programme available, please check with your local authority
  • Can provide accessible need driven business support that is tailored to business requirements

 

FAQs & Advice through Invest NI

Invest NI are updating a useful FAQ and signposting facility on their website: nibusinessinfo.co.uk

Invest NI Business Support Line now advising and signposting on Covid-19 related issues

 

Further Grants and Announcements

Lloyd's Banking Group Social Entrepreneurs Programme

Support programme to help social entrepreneurs start and scale up social enterprise, community projects and impact-led organisations across the UK. There are several strands of funding available; Start Up, Trade Up, and Scale Up

  • Start Up - projects in planning stages but ready to start, or less than two years old. The project must make between £0 and £15,000 a year
  • Scale Up - projects that were established at least a year ago, and has at least one paid member of staff. It makes at least £75,000 a year
  • For more info: www.the-sse.org/our- courses/programmes/lbsep


The Facebook Small Business Grants Programme

Facebook is offering approximately £84 million in cash grants and advertising credits on its ad platform for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses
The funding is intended to help firms in the following ways:

  • Covering operational costs
  • Helping with rent costs
  • Connecting with more customers
  • Maintaining a strong workforce

Further information on eligibility criteria and how to apply to be announced. For more information www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants
 

Facebook Business Hub

Previously a resource limited to Facebook employees and health experts, this will now be available for all businesses to access.
The company has also pledged to create new "virtual training" to support businesses operating during the coronavirus outbreak.
www.facebook.com/business

 

Banks

Most of our local banks have no set up dedicated teams to help business customers deal with the effects of coronavirus. Most are offering immediate working capital and some flexible arrangements in terms of managing cashflow.

Please see the latest links from local banks but please keep in touch with your bank relationship manager to recieve an update bespoke to your requirements.

Council Business Programmes

In addition, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council are still providing the Mentor Growth and Digi Growth programmes, which can offer free mentoring and advice for businesses. 

We aim for the programmes to continue without face-to-face contact, rather using the digital methods at our disposal (skype, email etc.).

I would encourage you to fill in the form below to apply for the Mentor Growth Programme, Digi Growth Programme, and join our mailing list for all relevant information regarding Business Support, including grants relating to the coronavirus situation.

Business Support Sign-Up