Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme: Part A

News article

The Minister for the Economy has launched a new Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme to support those businesses directly impacted by the latest Health Protection Regulations, which came into force on 16 October 2020.

Businesses forced to close or severely limit their operations as a result of the increased Health Protection Regulations that came into effect on 16 October and subsequently on Friday 27 November, can apply to the scheme, if they meet the eligibility criteria.

If you have already applied for Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme: Part A, you do not need to make another application. Support payments will be issued to successful applicants for the period that the restrictions apply until 23:59 on Thursday 10 December.

Businesses that operate from business premises should check their eligibility to apply for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme.

The Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme is administered by Invest NI on behalf of the Department for the Economy (DfE).

What is available

The Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme (CRBSS) will operate in two parts.

Successful applicants to Part A of the CRBSS will automatically receive an additional payment to cover the extended period of restrictions while they are required to stay closed. There is no need to reapply for this additional payment.

Applications to Part A of the CRBSS will close at 6pm on Wednesday 16 December 2020.

Eligible businesses will receive a grant equivalent to £600 for each week the initial Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 are in place. This will be paid in one lump sum.

Eligibility 

Who is eligible
CRBSS Part A is open to any business that can meet the following criteria:

  • A business named within the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 as required to close/cease trading, but is not eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme. Examples of this might include a business that delivers its product or service on a mobile basis or operates from their home, or their customers’ homes, for example, a driving instructor or mobile hairdresser or beautician.
  • A business operating in Northern Ireland and was trading at the time the restrictions came into effect on 16 October 2020. For businesses based in the Derry City & Strabane District Council area, this date is 5 October 2020. Based means your business address must have a Derry City & Strabane District Council postcode.
  • The income lost as a result of your business having to close or cease trading is your main source of income - ie accounts for more than 50% of your income.

Who cannot apply
A business is not eligible for CRBSS Part A if:

The business must be able to demonstrate it is a registered business, and that it was operational and trading up to and including 16 October 2020, when the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 came into effect. For businesses based in the Derry City & Strabane District Council area, this date is 5 October 2020.

Before applying, applicants should read the CRBSS Part A - guidance notes (PDF, 442K) and the CRBSS Part A - frequently asked questions (PDF, 732K).

The information and evidence requested is necessary to validate the application to ensure public funds are managed properly.

How you can prepare to apply

If you are eligible to apply, here are some steps you can take to prepare. You will need the following information to complete the online application form:

  • Your business name.
  • Your contact name and number.
  • Your business address and postcode.
  • Your bank account number and sort code for a UK or Sterling account used for trading purposes.
  • Your 10-digit HMRC Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR).
    • For the self-employed, this is linked to Schedule D earnings from any trade or profession.
    • For limited companies, this is linked to Corporation Tax.
  • Your HMRC VAT Registration Number, if applicable.
  • Your company registration number, if you have one, issued by Companies House, beginning with NI followed by six numbers, for example, NI123456.
  • Confirmation that the CRBSS grant payment will not take your business over the State Aid de minimis ceiling of €200,000 over the three previous consecutive fiscal years.

PLEASE NOTE

For your application to be reviewed and processed, you must provide electronically:

  1. A scanned copy of a HMRC document showing your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), as well as your name and address. This evidence is required to verify that the business is legitimate.
     
  2. Evidence to confirm you are a business required to close or cease trading as a result of the Health Protection Regulations, for example, official documents that confirm the nature of your business – such as registration with a public or professional body.

    See Annex A of CRBSS Part A - frequently asked questions (PDF, 732K) for examples of other evidence that could be provided to confirm the nature of your business.
     
  3. Evidence to confirm your business was trading up to, and including 16 October 2020. For businesses based in the Derry City & Strabane District Council area, this date is 5 October 2020.

    This must include a scanned or photograph copy of bank statement that shows business transaction information and as a minimum covers the period 16 September to 16 October 2020. For businesses based in the Derry City & Strabane District Council area, this will have to cover the period 5 September to 5 October 2020.

    The account must be a UK or Sterling account used by your business for trading purposes.
    • This must be the same account to which the CRBSS grant payment will be made.
    • The statement must clearly show your business address; account name, number and sort code; and date of issue of the statement.
       
  4. If the bank statement does not provide clear evidence that the business was trading prior to the restrictions being put in place, other evidence must be provided to demonstrate active trading - eg invoices, receipts issued or received during September or October 2020.

    The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it meets this criteria.
     
  5. Evidence of your identity must be provided through a form of photographic ID, such as a scanned or photograph copy of a valid passport or a current (full or provisional) driving licence photo card.

    All Northern Ireland full driving licences with an expiry date between 1 February and 31 December 2020 will be treated as valid for a further 11 months. This does not apply to provisional driving licences.
The maximum file size of each attached document is 3MB.

To strengthen your application, we recommend that a registered accountant completes the template provided using their official letterhead. This will provide independent verification of the information you have provided in your application and although not mandatory, it will reinforce your application. This covers:

  • Your business has been required to close/cease trading as a result of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.
  • Your business is not eligible for support under LRSS.
  • Your business operates in Northern Ireland and was trading at the time the restrictions came into effect on 16 October 2020. For businesses based in the Derry City & Strabane District Council area, this date is 5 October 2020. Based means your business address must have a Derry City & Strabane District Council postcode.
  • The income lost as a result of your business having to close or cease trading is your main source of income - ie accounts for more than 50% of your income.

How to apply

Applicants to Part A of the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme must complete an online pre-eligibility check. The checker asks key questions against the scheme’s criteria and directs eligible applicants to the online application form.

Check eligibility and apply online


Further information

If you have any enquiries about the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme complete the online enquiry form.

You can also contact the dedicated helpline on 0800 952 4422. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

First published 28 October 2020