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Hardship Fund for Small Businesses

Available: CLOSED

Region: NI only

Department for the Economy (DfE) will make up to £40 million available through a fund, which is being administered by Invest Northern Ireland.

Aims to assist businesses in Northern Ireland with less than 10 employees that require financial support due to the impact of COVID-19. 

Social enterprises and charities will be able to access the Hardship Fund if they meet the eligibility criteria. 

Only one grant will be paid to each eligible business, irrespective of how many properties the business occupies. 

Summary of Scheme  

  • Available to businesses unable to access the £10,000, £25,000 and Covid-19 Childcare Support grant schemes. 
  • The final amounts awarded will depend on the number of successful applications. 
  • The level of the grant will be  
    • up to £10,000 for businesses which pay business rates on premises
    • up to £5,000 for those that do not pay business rates.
  • Only one grant will be paid to each eligible business, irrespective of how many properties the business occupies. 

Who is eligible?

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 1 and 9 employees paid via PAYE this is in addtition to where the sole employee is the business owner or company director. 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.

Who cannot apply

The NI Micro-buisness Hardship Fund is open to all micro-businesses and social enterprises excluding the following:
  • Primary agricultural producers
  • Business eligible for the following NI Executive schemes:
    • £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme
    • £10,000 Small Business Grant for rental properties and Total NAV of £1,590 or below
    • £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant
    • Covid-19 Childcare Support Scheme
  • Charities or social enterprises with charitable status.
  • Social enterprises that receive less than 60% of revenue from trade in good and/or services.
Businesses should note that other non-repayable Government grants related to Covid-19 will be taken into account and will be deducted, where appliciable, from the final grant awarded. 

Check if you’re eligible to apply

You can use the online eligibility checker to find out if you can apply for the NI Micro-business Hardship Fund.

Online eligibility checker

How to apply

Applications can be made via Invest NI's online portal.

Before you apply, there are some steps that you will need to take.

How you can prepare to apply

If you are eligible to apply for the grant scheme, there are some steps that you can take to prepare for completing the online application form.
  • Your business name.
  • Your contact name and number.
  • Your business address and postcode.
  • Your employer PAYE reference number, also known as an Employer Reference Number or ERN.
  • The number of staff on your PAYE payroll as of 29 February 2020 and evidence to support this.
  • Your LPS Ratepayer ID and Occupancy ID if you pay business rates.
  • Your VAT number if you are VAT registered.
  • Your business bank account number and sort code (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted).
  • Details of any de minimis funding your company or any company within the Group (if applicable) has received in the current or previous two fiscal (accounting) years.
  • A form of photographic ID as your proof of identity, such as a scanned copy of a valid passport or a current driving licence.
  • A scanned copy of a bank statement dated within the last three months for an account used by your business that clearly shows your address.
  • A scanned copy of your PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) return for the period ended 29 February 2020.

The maximum file size of each attached document is 3MB.

​The online application process will take approximately one hour to complete. You can save your application and return to it at any time before Friday 12th June 2020.



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