Covid19: Grant scheme for supply chain businesses due to open today - Economy Minister

Economy Minister Diane Dodds.
Ryan McAleer

A COVID-19 business grant scheme for supply chain businesses is expected to open for applications today (Wednesday).

Economy Minister Diane Dodds told the Assembly chamber on Monday night that she expects Part B of the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme (CRBSS) to start from today.

Part A of the CRBSS, which opened for applications on October 28, offers payments of £600 to businesses required to close under the latest Covid-19 restrictions, but unable to apply to the Department of Finance’s rates-based grant.

As of November 12, Part A had attracted 2,507 applications. Ms Dodds said on Monday that by the end of the week, more than £3m will be paid out to just over 1,000 businesses.

Part B has been designed to support supply chain businesses severely impacted by customers being forced to cease trading under the regulations.

Ms Dodds told the Assembly on Monday: “It is my expectation that Part B will open on Wednesday and I have asked Invest NI to ensure that they have the dedicated necessary resources to make that happen and to respond as quickly as possible.”

She said the scheme will be wide, with businesses in the events sector able to apply.

The Economy Minister also indicated that a proposed support scheme for the recently self-employed will go before Thursday’s meeting of the Executive.

“The Executive will get a paper from me around those who term themselves as excluded on Thursday,” she said. “That paper is ready and will be signed off. It will be for the Executive to decide what to do in relation to that.”

The initiative was first announced by Ms Dodds on October 22.

The Minister also told the Assembly that her officials were preparing schemes for large tourism businesses, B&Bs and licensed premises, which have been continually forced to closed.

Ms Dodds added: “There could be some additional support through an extension of the hardship scheme to include companies with more employees than the previous scheme."

Meanwhile, the Economy Minister said she had written to Finance Minister Conor Murphy asking him to consider extending the ongoing 12 month rates holiday to the manufacturing sector.

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