Assembly Written Question 10587/17-22

Question: To ask the Minister for the Economy whether she will change the criteria of Part B of the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme, which requires businesses to have been trading immediately prior to 16 October 2020, in order to support supply chain businesses that have been unable to trade since March due to a long-term reduction in orders and bookings as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on their customers.

Answer: The Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme initially required evidence that businesses were trading immediately prior to 16 October 2020 or 5 October 2020 for businesses with the Derry City and Strabane District Council Area. However, this was found to be too restrictive and was therefore relaxed with businesses asked to provide proof of recent trading. The scheme has been developed with the aim of providing financial support to businesses that have been directly and indirectly impacted by the Health Protection Regulations put in place by the Executive, effective from the 16 October. Therefore, the scheme includes the criteria that businesses have experienced at least a 40% reduction in turnover as a result of the restrictions being in place. Businesses that have seen a long-term reduction in business may not be prevented from applying to the scheme by the recent trading requirement. However, in applying, evidence must be provided that they have seen a significant reduction in turnover as a result of the restrictions which is in keeping with the policy intention and scheme eligibility criteria, as agreed by the Executive. In considering further interventions, including additional funding or packages of financial support, it will be for the Executive collectively, to determine how this will be allocated to best support economic recovery moving forward.

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