A £40m fund aimed at supporting micro businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic will go live later today.
The new NI Micro-business Hardship Fund will open to applications at 6pm, and is scheme is targeted at businesses with one to nine employees "facing immediate cash flow difficulties due". It says it also includes "eligible social enterprises".
"The Hardship Fund will provide much-needed support to micro-businesses which have so far been unable to access other regional and national coronavirus support measures," Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, said.
“This new fund should mean that over 40,000 businesses in Northern Ireland will have been eligible to apply for support under the Northern Ireland Covid-19 grant schemes.”
The Deparment says the funding is available to businesses which fall outside the criteria for the previous £10,000 and £25,000 grant schemes.
"In order to ensure that the £40m budget is not exceeded, the final amounts awarded will depend on the number of successful applications.
"The level of Hardship Fund grant will be up to £10,000 for businesses which pay business rates on premises and up to £5,000 for those that do not pay business rates. Businesses within each category will receive the same amount."
It says an online "eligibility checker is available to enable businesses to check in advance of the fund opening whether they are eligible for the new scheme".
"To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% since March 1, 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic or associated government restrictions."