Up to 2,500 small manufacturing firms in Northern Ireland will now qualify for a £10,000 coronavirus support grant, it has been announced.
The Small Business Support Grant Scheme announced by the Treasury was originally for firms with a rateable value of less than £15,000 that qualify for small business rates relief.
Small manufacturing firms, however, were not eligible as they are covered by a different rates relief system.
Announcing the extension of the scheme, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said 14,000 payments have already be made under the Small Business Support Grant Scheme.
“I am pleased to be in a position now to expand that scheme further. Around 2,500 small businesses which benefit from industrial de-rating are now also eligible for the support," she said.
Meanwhile, businesses in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors will be eligible to apply for grants of £25,000, with applications opening on Monday, April 20 and taking around 15 working days to process.
Applications for both schemes will close on May 20.
Diane Dodds said: “From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been committed to supporting businesses to mitigate the inevitable economic consequences of the vital restrictions we live under.
“In recent years, the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors in Northern Ireland have flourished, but their sustainability is based on people being able to travel, shop and socialise. Covid-19 has thrown into sharp relief the fragility of these sectors and I am acutely aware of the hardship now being faced by these businesses.
“Over 4,000 businesses in these sectors will be able to apply for grants of £25,000 from Monday 20 April. Information on eligibility and how to apply will be available on the nibusinessinfo website and I urge anyone who believes they are eligible to apply from that date.”
The minister also said a hardship fund will be set up for business that are not eligible for the existing support schemes, with details expected at a later date.