As some of you already know, Invest NI have now launched the Hardship Fund for Micro-Businesses.  You can now access this via this link:   You should have most of the information at hand allowing you to complete this application, but you will likely need to contact us to get your RTI submission report and your PAYE/Employer reference which many clients will not have.   Yesterday the government also finally announced how the scheme will work.  Fairly simply:     – If you have a commercial property paying rates you will be entitled to £10,000 if you missed the normal rates grant     – If you do not occupy a commercial property paying rates you will be entitled to a £5,000 grant.

Businesses should ensure they meet the following criteria before applying to the fund:

  • The business must be based in Northern Ireland.
  • At 29 February 2020, the business must have employed between one and nine employees paid via PAYE.  Businesses, where the sole employee is the business owner or company director, are not eligible for this scheme.  The number of employees will be based on headcount.
  • Since 1 March 2020, the business must have experienced a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic or associated Government restrictions.
  • You cannot have already received a rates-based grant
  • You cannot receive this if you are a charity.