Government schemes | 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

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Bounce Back loan for small businesses


Lending from £2k to £50k over 6 years for businesses impacted by coronavirus. No interest payments for 12 months.

See Bounce Back Loan details.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

To support SMEs, CBILS will provide loans of £50,001 to £5 million, with interest covered by the government for the first 12 months.

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

Visit our CBILS page for more information.

Business rate holiday


As part of the Northern Ireland Executive's 2020-21 Budget, all business ratepayers (excluding public sector and utilities) will benefit from a three-month business rate holiday. 

You do not need to do anything to apply for this – it will be shown as a 25% discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.

The Budget statement also advised there would be:

  • An effective 18% reduction in the Stormont determined portion of business rates (i.e. the non-domestic regional rate) compared to the 2019-20 figure
  • An extension of the existing Small Business Rate Relief scheme for one year
  • A deferral in the issuing of rates bills until June

Further information is available at NI Business Info.

Government grant schemes


Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant Scheme

A grant of £25,000 will be provided to companies in these sectors with a rateable value from £15,001 up to £51,000, subject to some exclusions.

Registration is now open for businesses to apply. Further information on eligibility and how to apply is available at NI Business Info.

Covid Small Business Grant

A small business grant of £10,000 for eligible businesses with a rateable value up to £15,000. This will be automatically paid into the accounts of eligible direct debit rate-payers.

Registration is now open for businesses that have not received their payment automatically. The deadline to register for this grant scheme is 20 May 2020. Further information is available at NI Business Info.

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.

Further information is available at nidirect.

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 coronavirus (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 coronavirus from 13 March for a maximum of two weeks’ sickness per employee.

Further information is available at nidirect.



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 website 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 coronavirus, 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

Support for larger firms

Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

Under this scheme the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.

How to apply

The scheme is now available for applications. More information is available from the Bank of England.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will support businesses with Group annual turnover of over £45 million to access loans of up to £200 million.

Find out more about CLBILS

Protection from eviction for commercial tenants


Commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction.

These measures will mean no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment up until 30 June.

This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent. Commercial tenants are protected from eviction if they are unable to pay rent.

How to access the scheme

The change came into force on 26 March 2020. No action is required. Futher information is available at NI Business Info.

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.

Further information is available at nidirect.

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.

Further information is available at NI Business Info.

Eat out to help government scheme

Incentivise customers to eat out in your restaurant or other eating establishment by giving them a discount which you can then claim back from the government.

More details about the scheme

Government guidance

Further information on support for UK businesses can be found on the government website.

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


Businesses in Northern Ireland

View the latest guidance

Businesses in Scotland

View the latest guidance

Businesses in Wales

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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