Government scheme | Ulster Bank


Government Schemes and support for businesses

Support for businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information on the £330bn government-backed loan and guarantee schemes.

Who can benefit from these schemes?


Any business that needs access to cash to pay rent, salaries, suppliers, or buy stock, will be able to access government-backed schemes and support.

Further details of the schemes and how to access the benefits are outlined below.



Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

To support SMEs, CBILS will provide a loan ranging from £5k to £5million for up to 6 years.

If your business has been impacted by coronavirus, we will be able to consider your application under CBILS.

Smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial payments. 

Important information

  • You must be UK based
  • Your turnover must be under £45m
  • You will need a viable borrowing proposal, other than COVID-19
  • A capital repayment holiday for 12 months will be available at the start of the loan
  • The government will meet the interest payments for the first 12 months 
  • The bank does not charge the borrower any lender-levied fees

Full eligibility criteria are available on the British Business Bank website.

Under the scheme, the goverment provides a guarantee to the bank for 80% of your loan. Note that you remain liable for 100% of the debt. Security may be required. Fishery, aquaculture and agriculture businesses may not qualify for the full interest and fee payment.


Business rate holiday


Businesses are facing acute challenges, and sectors that have been particularly impacted are able to apply for a business rates holiday in Northern Ireland for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Retail, hospitality and leisure

The retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have also been severely affected. Businesses in Northern Ireland in these sectors will be eligible for a business rate holiday, regardless of their rateable value.

How to apply

You do not need to do anything. These will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

Find out more


The government will introduce a business rates holiday for nurseries based in Northern Ireland for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Properties that will benefit from this relief will be hereditaments:

  • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage

Government grant schemes


Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme

Retail and hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will receive a grant up to £25,000.

How to access the grant schemes

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for these grants.

Find out more

Small Business Grant Scheme

The government will provide extra funding for businesses based in Northern Ireland that receive small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) or tapered relief.

You need to be a small business that already receives SBRR and/or RRR and occupy property. The government will provide a one-off grant of £10,000.

Job retention and sick pay


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

All UK businesses will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

How to access the scheme

You will need to:

  • designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for small or medium sized businesses

SSP is payable to qualifying employees and is now payable from day one for those who self-isolate or are unwell because of COVID 19 (the first 3 days are normally unpaid). The current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week.

HM Treasury has announced that small and medium sized employers (those with fewer than 250 employees) may recover this cost where SSP has been paid as a result of COVID 19 from 13 March for a maximum of two weeks’ sickness per employee.

Government support for employers

Self-employed workers


Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

This scheme will provide a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits, up to £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.

The scheme is available to those with a trading profit less than £50,000 in 2018-19. Or, an average trading profit of less than £50,000 for the last 3 tax years.

Can I benefit?

You can get support if you're self-employed (including members of partnerships) and have lost income due to coronavirus. Trading profits must be less than £50,000 and make up more than half of your income from self-employment.

The scheme is initially available for 3 months in one lump sum payment. HMRC will begin payments at the beginning of June.

Visit the government to see how your trading profits and eligibility are determined.

How do I access the scheme?

You do not need to do anything. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.

If you pay yourself a salary and dividends through your own company, you won't be covered by the scheme. You can access the Coronavirus job retention scheme which covers 80% of your salary, if operating through PAYE.

Time to Pay Service

Businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support through HMRC’s Time To Pay Service.

How to access the scheme

If you have missed a payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, contact HMRC’s helpline on 0800 015 9 559.

If you’re worried about a future payment, you should call nearer the time.

Find out more

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)


The government has announced a scheme to support larger firms with a turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.

More information will follow soon. 

VAT and Income Tax payments



The government will be deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months for UK businesses.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in enough time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

Income Tax

Self-employed people may have their Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 deferred until 31 January 2021.

How to access the scheme

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until January 2021.

Add your signposting title here… Support for businesses in Northern Ireland

Because some elements of business support are devolved, the measures you can access may differ if your business is in Northern Ireland.

View the latest guidance

Coronavirus guidance and support


We’re here to support your business. See our latest guidance and find out how we might be able to help you.

Coronavirus support
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