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COVID-19 Guidance: Information for NI Businesses & Employers

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland

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To help businesses and employers understand what the measures announced by the Chancellor mean for you, please use this page to navigate the latest guidance for people in Northern Ireland.

Guidance for employees

Read all the latest guidance and frequently asked questions for employees including details about statutory sick pay and Universal Credit.

Guidance for self-employed workers

The UK Government has launched a Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Details on how to apply can be found here.

Sickness and disability benefits

Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be temporarily suspended for the next 3 months from Tuesday 17 March. No further action is required by any claimant as a result of this change. They will be contacted with advice on next steps.

Travel

Find out all the latest travel advice and sign up for travel alerts via the Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) website.

Businesses

General guidance for employers

The UK Government has published extensive guidance for employers, including details on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and what to do if someone is suspected or confirmed to have the virus.

UK Government support for businesses

The UK Government has set out a package of measures to protect public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Businesses in Northern Ireland can access the following schemes and announcements:

Northern Ireland Executive support for businesses

Because some aspects of business support are devolved in Northern Ireland, Invest NI has provided practical advice for business online here

Businesses in Northern Ireland can access the following schemes:

  • COVID Small Business Grant - A small business grant of £10,000 for all businesses with a rateable value up to £15,000. This will be automatically paid into the accounts of eligible direct debit rate-payers. Registration is now open for other eligible businesses to apply.

  • Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme - A grant of £25,000 will be provided to companies in these sectors with a rateable value from £15,001 up to £51,000. The Department for Economy will be announcing further details on how to apply for this.

Information on these schemes will be made available at NI Business Info.

In his Budget Statement of 31 March, the Finance Minister confirmed a £100m package allocated to providing a three months rates holiday to all businesses in Northern Ireland. No application is required to avail of this. It will be shown as a 25% discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.

The Budget Statement also provided for:

  • an effective 18% reduction in the Stormont determined portion of business rates (i.e. the non-domestic regional rate) compared to the 2019-20 figure;
  • an extension of the existing Small Business Rate Relief scheme for one year;
  • a deferral in the issuing of rates bills until June.

Business support helplines

HMRC tax helpline

HMRC has set up a helpline for businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to COVID-19. The updated helpline number to support customers impacted by coronavirus is 0800 024 1222 and is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. HMRC have introduced this number to ensure extra capacity on their network so customers can get through to us more quickly. Calls to the old helpline number will be redirected.

Invest NI helpline

Get help with your business online, or by calling the Invest NI Helpline. Telephone: 0800 181 4422

Published 21 March 2020
Last updated 6 April 2020 + show all updates
  1. further updates to the gov.uk link pages

  2. Further updated weblinks

  3. Updated website links

  4. Update with new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme details

  5. First published.