NI Micro-business Hardship Fund

The NI Executive has released a new NI Micro-business Hardship Fund to help the Northern Ireland based micro-businesses and social enterprises who were unable to claim any other COVID-19 support measures released over the past few weeks.


Applications for the fund can be made online from

6 pm on Wednesday 20th May 2020 and will close on Friday 12th June 2020 at 6 pm.


There is a £40 million budget within this new Hardship Fund and to ensure the government does not exceed it, the final amounts rewarded will depend on the number of successful applications. The level of Hardship Fund grant will be up to £10,000 for businesses which pay business rates on premises and up to £5,000 for those that do not pay business rates. Businesses within each category will receive the same amount. Only one grant will be paid to each eligible business, irrespective of how many properties the business currently occupies.

Who is Eligible?-

  •  The business must be based in Northern Ireland.
  • At 29 February 2020, the business must have employed between 1 and 9 employees paid via PAYE. Businesses, where the sole employee is the business owner or company director, are not eligible for this scheme. The number of employees will be based on headcount.
  • Since 1 March 2020, the business must have experienced a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic or associated Government restrictions.

The NI Micro-business Hardship Fund is open to all micro-business and social enterprises excluding the following:-

  • Primary agricultural producers i.e. those primarily concerned with crop or animal production or forestry or logging or fisheries or aquaculture. However, agricultural businesses associated with the processing, marketing and retail of agricultural products can apply to the fund;
  •  Businesses eligible for the following NI Executive schemes:
    – £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme
    – £10,000 Small Business Grant for rental properties and Total NAV of £1,590 or below
    – £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant
    – COVID-19 Childcare Support Scheme
  • Charities or social enterprises with charitable status;
  • Social enterprises that receive less than 60% of revenue from trade in goods and/or services.

Businesses should note that other non-repayable Government grants related to COVID-19 will be taken into account and will be deducted, where applicable, from the final grant awarded.


Use the online eligibility checker to see if your business can qualify for this grant. This process is estimated to take up to 1 hour to process. You can save your application and return to it at any time before the closing date





You will need the following details at hand in order to check your eligibility:-

  • Your business name;
  • Your contact name and number;
  • Your business address and postcode;
  • Your employer PAYE reference number, also known as an Employer Reference Number or ERN;
  • The number of staff on your PAYE payroll your business employed as of 29 February 2020;
  • Your LPS Ratepayer ID and Occupancy ID if you pay business rates (This is on your rates bill);
  • Your VAT number if you are VAT registered;
  • Your business bank account number and sort code (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted);
  • Details of any de minimis funding your company or any company within the Group (if applicable) has received in the current or previous two fiscal (accounting) years.

You will also need to provide the following electronically:-

  • A form of photographic ID as your proof of identity, such as a scanned copy of a valid passport or a current driving licence;
  • A scanned copy of a bank statement dated within the last three months for an account used by your business that clearly shows your address;
  • A scanned copy of your PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) return for the period ended 29 February 2020.

The maximum file size of each attached document can be no bigger than 3MB.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) has been released in relation to the NI Micro-business Hardship Fund. Please find this document by clicking the link below: