A grant of £10,000 will be provided to all small businesses who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme. We estimate that this will benefit around 27,000 businesses. A grant of £25,000 will be provided to companies in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. This should assist 4,000 business. The schemes will be administered by DfE / InvestNI working with DoF’s Land and Property Services.
Together, these schemes will inject some £370million to support tens of thousands of our most vulnerable businesses to help with cash flow.
The ratings system will be used as the mechanism to identify eligible businesses in Northern Ireland. Payment will then be made directly into the bank accounts of those businesses. Last year’s rating list will be the basis for payment. We are exploring how to get wider scope for those who are eligible as a result of revaluation.
We want to make sure that payments are made directly to businesses, for the benefit of businesses. Currently, we only hold bank details for just over 9,000 of small businesses who qualify and payment can be expedited to those companies. Our focus will be on getting this out as quickly as possible. An online web portal will be set up this week for the remaining eligible businesses to register their details.
Our immediate focus has been on putting in place a system for processing the £10,000 grant. However, we are also working hard to put in place processes for the £25,000 grant for our hospitality, tourism and retail sectors as soon as possible.
We understand the pressing need for these schemes. We accept that demand is high and that many are waiting for news. Officials are working hard under very difficult circumstances to make sure the money goes to the people who need it most as soon as possible. This is challenging work which requires processing of thousands of data items to ensure that the support reaches the right people. The Minister has directed all available extra resources towards delivering this. And so far, we are ahead of where our counterparts in England Scotland and Wales are at this point.
But this crisis is without parallel. Developing two schemes for tens of thousands of businesses is complex and challenging and, in normal circumstances, would take months to put in place. Therefore, we ask for patience. The schemes will be fully operational as soon as possible.
Information will be available on nibusinessinfo.co.uk