Government support available to businesses in the UK and ROI amid COVID-19

With constant news updates and drastic measures introduced to protect the general public, what support is available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19? Read our guide to the current support available across the UK and Ireland as well as important resources for businesses struggling.

5 min read

The past few weeks can only be described by one word within the UK and Ireland, Escalation. It seems as though in the blink of an eye the world has come to an immediate stop with major closures and government-issued bans. The question remains, however, where does this leave small business owners. Already operating on tight margins, small business owners are being asked to close shop for the foreseeable future leaving them unable to pay staff or manage their rent and rates.

AirPOS has been committed to the development and growth of small businesses for over a decade. In the following article we wanted to highlight what help is available for small businesses in the UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland so that they can find a solution to any pressing financial issues and hopefully relieve any stress.

How is the UK government supporting small businesses during COVID-19

Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer announced on 17th March that the government, recognising the severity of the situation, were making available £330 billion in backed loans in an attempt to keep the economy afloat and stop many businesses from going bankrupt. The newly appointed chancellor stated that,

“Any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan or credit on attractive terms”

This will come in the form of cash grants, business tax cuts and a 3 month mortgage holiday.

In addition to this, there will be grants available to 700,000 of the UK’s smallest businesses, worth a total of £2.2billion to ensure local economies keep growing.

In terms of smaller businesses local authorities will be able to deliver a £10,000 cash grant to these business owners. These will be available come the beginning of April.

Sick pay

The government has brought forward that small to medium sized businesses may be entitled to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sickness absence due to COVID-19. This will cover the recommended two week isolation period for those infected, or at risk due to the virus.
Importantly a dedicated helpline has been set up to help small businesses and those who are self-employed who are experiencing financial distress. Guidance can be given regarding outstanding tax liabilities also supported with tax affairs.


How is the NI Government supporting small businesses during COVID-19

Northern Ireland has an economy built on its small to medium-sized retailers and therefore it is of the utmost importance that the executive takes drastic measures to support these businesses. It has been recently announced that around £370 million will be provided to those businesses in Northern Ireland who are most vulnerable. Deputy first minister , Michelle O’Neill announced the launch of two seperate grants to protect business owners at all levels

For small businesses

“Small businesses with a net asset value up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.”

For medium-sized businesses

“A grant of £25,000 will go to larger, medium-sized firms in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors.
Qualifying businesses for the £25,000 grant must have a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.”

As well as this the executive of northern Ireland has already committed to providing a 3 month holiday to businesses paying rates and are currently exploring the possibility of support for rent.

The deputy first minister has stated that she will be “bringing forward many new announcements” throughout the next several days, therefore, its imperative that businesses stay informed through credible news channels at this time.


How is the Irish Government supporting small businesses during COVID-19

The government in the Republic of Ireland have shown their strength in their reactive response to COVID-19. The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, announced a comprehensive support package for Irish businesses affected by the Coronavirus with loans of up to €1.5 million at reduced rates.

The overall package includes a €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland working capital scheme for those businesses that have been significantly impacted by the virus. A further €200m package will be made available including a rescue and restructuring scheme through Enterprise Ireland for “vulnerable, but viable, firms that need to restructure or transform their business”.

Similar to the UK the banks within the Republic of Ireland have confirmed they will offer a three month payment break to take financial pressure off citizens during this time of uncertainty.

Sole traders and small businesses

Significantly the ROI government has developed a specific plan for sole traders and small companies with only up to 9 employees. These vulnerable businesses will see the maximum available amount for immediate loans increase by 50% from €25,000 to €50,000.

The government has also provided financial support to organisations who can provide businesses with guidance and support through this time whether to conduct financial reviews or consultancy support.

Sick pay

Many businesses are facing the struggle of sick pay. The World Health organisation has recommended that if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or a member of your household has that you must self isolate for 7-14 days. Mass closures and sick leave has left many businesses in a state of turmoil. The ROI Government has introduced emergency legislation in the Dáil to amend the rules on sick pay, which will see Illness Benefit rise from €203 per week to €305. Not only will this take the pressure off employers but also prevent further spread where workers are afraid to self isolate on financial grounds.


Further support

The Coronavirus has shaken the world to it’s core and with Governments scrambling to create strategies to ensure their citizens are protected yet also protect financial interests. This is obviously a stressful time for business owners which is why we have linked several different informational articles for further reading. You will find a range of information from both the UK and Irish government and we hope you will be able to find a solution for your business.

In this time we must also remember to protect ourselves and those around us as well as our businesses.

Government Updates

For a full list of government updates, make sure to check the links below regularly from the government websites.


Northern Ireland