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Coronavirus business grants 'to be paid as soon as verified' to help struggling firms

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Concerned: Colin Neill

Concerned: Colin Neill

Concerned: Colin Neill

Long-awaited business grants for businesses amid the coronavirus will now be paid as soon as they are verified as firms here struggle to stay afloat, it’s been claimed.

The grants of up to £25,000 will be “processed at speed and paid as soon as verified and not within 15 days as stipulated” by the Department for the Economy, according to Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster. Mr Neill said the update had come from Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds had announced the process of applying for the loans for retail, hospitality and tourism firms, with applications taking 15 business days to process.

The Minister also extended the £10,000 grant scheme to small industrial businesses.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts has said the £25,000 scheme was being launched much later than had been expected. The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance has also said operators may not be able to remain in business long enough to apply.

“While it is welcome that we have clarity on a start date for the £25,000 grants, we are concerned that many cash-strapped businesses may not survive until they receive the payment early next month.

"The £10,000 and £25,000 small business grants also need to be altered to support those companies with multiple premises rather than just a single payment."