Essential retailers included in new support packages worth £178m
Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has announced £178 million in new business support grants – and essential retailers are included if they meet the specific criteria.
Making the announcement, Conor Murphy said: “These grant schemes, together with the 12 months rates holiday, will provide a lifeline for many businesses who continue to confront the challenges of COVID-19. This package of support will help businesses and safeguard jobs through the period ahead as we emerge from the current restrictions.”
Retail NI has welcomed the move. Glyn Roberts said “This is a particularly welcome announcement for a significant number of essential city and town centre retailers whose businesses were under threat as a result of lost footfall. Minister Murphy listened to our concerns and responded with this grant scheme to support those businesses”
“The ‘lost footfall’ grant scheme will secure hundreds of jobs and ensure these independent retailers can continue to provide food and other important products to local communities”
“While the £178m grants and rates holiday are all positive, we now need the Executive to give a date for non-essential retail, close contact services and hospitality to safely reopen. It is vital we get a date”
The scheme will include almost 20,000 businesses.
The business grants draw on Covid funding that has to be utilised by the end of the financial year, the Minister continued: “In the absence of further bids from Departments, I am now activating my contingency plans to support the economy. Land & Property Service within my Department has again stepped up to deliver much needed support to businesses. These grants will benefit a mixture of businesses including those not provided with grant funding earlier this year, and businesses which have been allowed to remain open but which have experienced a significant reduction in trade due to the restrictions.”
Eligible businesses will include ‘essential retail’ currently allowed to remain open (such as hardware, butchers, home bakeries, delis, convenience stores, post offices, pet shops, pharmacies, paint and decorating shops, building suppliers), small manufacturing businesses, small professional services businesses (accountants, solicitors, financial services), allied health services (dentists, podiatrists, physiotherapists).