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Payments to support small businesses to start next week

Small businesses are particularly struggling in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Credit: Presseye

The first payment in the Small Business Support Grant Scheme will be made on 31 March, if not before, according to Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

An online portal set up to support the payments and provide the facility for businesses to register their bank details has already gone live.

“My focus remains on getting payments out as quickly as possible to businesses, for the benefit of the businesses,” Mrs Dodds said.

“These grants schemes - worth more than £370m - will benefit some 27,000 small local businesses and a further 4,000 businesses in our beleaguered tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.

“Businesses that are currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) will be eligible to receive a £10,000 cash grant payment.”

This is a crisis without parallel and we are progressing these schemes as quick as we can.

My Department will continue to work hard to put in place arrangements for the £25,000 grant for our hospitality, tourism and retail sectors and I will announce further details on this as soon as possible.

– Economy Minister Diane Dodds

The minister added that payments will be made directly into the bank accounts of those businesses that currently pay their rates by direct debit.

“At present we hold bank details for approximately 7,000 small businesses who qualify for this grant,” she said.

“Payments to these businesses are now being processed and first payments will be in businesses’ bank accounts early next week.

“We need to collect details for eligible businesses for whom we do not currently hold bank details. To facilitate this, an online web portal has been developed and is now live.”

A grant of £10,000 will be provided to all small businesses who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme.

A grant of £25,000 will be provided to companies in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors with a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000.

The schemes are administered by DfE/Invest NI, working with the Department of Finance’s Land and Property Services.

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