Business owners welcome Covid recovery grants totalling over £70m

Over £70m in top-up grants will begin to be issued to Northern Ireland businesses that were allowed to remain open during the most recent coronavirus restrictions.

More than 13,000 businesses, which did not qualify for support during the most recent lockdown period, will now receive top-up grants.

Over 12,100 businesses will receive £5,000, while over 1,100 businesses will receive £10,000.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy visited two businesses in Belfast city centre on Thursday that will benefit from the grants - a Centra shop in Cathedral Quarter and Sawers delicatessen.

Mr Murphy says he recognised that, while these businesses and others like them, were able to continue to operate during the most recent restrictions, their trade and footfall were impacted.

“I have been determined throughout the pandemic to ensure support reaches as many businesses as possible," he added.

"These top-up payments will benefit thousands of small and medium sized businesses across retail, hospitality, tourism, leisure and manufacturing which were unable to access Executive business support schemes.

"This grant will cover a wider range of business including convenience stores, hardware stores, bakeries, financial services, engineering firms, and coach services to name a few.”

Minister Murphy with Glyn Roberts (L), and Donagh McGovern, owner of Centra Cathedral Quarter which receives a £5,000 top-up grant. Credit: Presseye

Land & Property Services is undertaking verification work to ensure the occupiers of business properties have remained the same since the original grants were paid – once this is complete, further top up payments will issue.

Businesses that started trading after the application process closed for the £10,000 Small Business Support Grant and the £25,000 Retail, Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Grant will also have the opportunity to apply online for the top-up payment from late June. Welcoming the top-up payments, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “These grants will support many independent retailers who had lost significant footfall and trade as a result of hospitality and offices being closed during lockdown.

"Along with the further year's rates holiday and the forthcoming High Street Scheme, this will greatly help our high streets on the long road toward recovery."