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Coronavirus (Covid-19) Crisis Essential Information, Contacts & Links for Northern Ireland

We understand this fact sheet will be updated regularly, so please bookmark tis page and check back. We’ll try to promote any changs on LinkedIn and twitter as we get them Keep safe! Gavin

Business Support Info

BDO Accountants Advice & Factsheet: https://www.bdoni.com/en-gb/insights/bdo/covid-19-latest-financial-support-packages-19-march-2020

Rates

No rates payments for the next three months and this will be paid by the government with no costs to businesses. The next rates payments are now due in June. This results in a 25% reduction in business rates.

Grants

Government launching two new grants (more info, including application process announced in coming days

  • £10k for businesses with NAV <£15k
  • £25k for retail, tourism and hospitality businesses with NAV £15k – £50k

Advice for SMEs

  • Advice for SMEs can be accessed via this link: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-support-and-advice-small-businesses

Support for SMEs – Business Interuption Loan Scheme

Support for larger businesses 

  • https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-new-lending-facility-larger-firms  
  • Bank of England will buy short term debt from companies – either new debt directly from the company or previously issued debt through the secondary market. This means companies will be able to continue financing their short term liabilities.
  • It will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
  • Further details, including on how to access this funding will follow in the coming days, and the scheme will be available from the week commencing 23 March.

HMRC Helpline – 0800 0159 559

A new tax helpline has been established specifically for people concerned by the the impact of the crisis on their ability to pay tax. They can be contacted to help with:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately

Insurance

Business interruption cover through your insurance depends on the type of cover you have purchased and what is specifically included in your policy. Advise them to read their policy or ask their broker directly, but most policies will not ordinarily include a notifiable disease extension. More information can be found from the Association of British Insurers.

Useful Links

  • NI Business info homepage https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-updates-support-your-business

Benefits and Social Security

All info here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-and-benefits

You should check the above link regularly as it will be updated with the latest advice

Advice NI ‘Welfare Changes’ hotline can be contacted on: 0808 8020020

Advice NI also have a debt advice service: 08000 281881

People who have lost their job

If someone has lost their job due to the crisis, advise them to call the Freephone Benefits Check: 0800 232 1271

If they have paid enough contributions, they may be able to claim new style Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). They can call this number to check – 0800 022 4250

Self-employed People

Anyone self-isolating who is self-employed can apply for Universal Credit or new-style Employment & Support Allowance. You can also apply for these if you are prevented from working because of a risk to public health. Advise them to call 08002321271 to check what they are entitled to.  

  • https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/contacts/employment-and-support-allowance-centre

People who are in work but who become ill or have to self-isolate

Advise them to apply for statutory sick pay. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/apply-statutory-sick-pay

This payment will now be from Day 1 of someone being off work. 

They should also call 08002321271 to see if they are entitled to any additional support. 

Those already receiving benefits

  • If you are receiving benefits, then these payments will continue.
  • All face to face appointments have been cancelled. Communication will continue via letter, phone and online journals. No one will be penalised for these postponed appointments
  • You do not need to sign on for JSA
  • Access To Work programme has been suspended. 

Mortgages and Rent

Mortgages

Government has announced that mortgage lenders have agreed to facilitate a 3 month payment holiday should you require help to meet your mortgage payments. This also includes equity loans for those with Help to Buy Mortgages and for renters/landlords, Buy to Let Mortgages. It will not be assumed you need this so talk to your lender before payment is due. Do not just default.

Rent

As mentioned above, buy to let mortgages are included in the 3 months holiday. If you are unable to pay rent, you should notify your landlord so that they can seek the holiday from their lender if relevant. Government will also bring forward legislation to stop eviction cases from proceeding through the courts during this crisis.