Chancellor Sunak’s Winter Economy Plan


Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered a speech in regards to his Winter Economy Plan to the House of Commons today, Thursday 24th September 2020.

Throughout his statement, Chancellor Sunak announced a new Job Support Scheme to prevent mass job loss when the Jobs Retention Scheme ends at the end of October, alongside updates to various other government incentives that are currently on offer to help the British people.



The Chancellor has outlined the following within his Winter Economy Plan speech:


Job Support Scheme:

The furlough scheme has been winding down since August, with plenty of concern for what will replace the scheme which has paid wages of workers up and down the country since March.

The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are
facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19, to help keep their
employees attached to the workforce.

Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job
Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.


Support Available:

  • The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with the
    employer also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of
    77% of their normal wages.
  • For every hour not worked by the employee, both the Government and employer
    will pay a third each of the usual hourly wage for that employee.
  • The Government contribution will be capped at £697.92 a month.
  • Grant payments will be made in arrears, reimbursing the employer for the
    Government’s contribution.
  • The grant will not cover Class 1 employer NICs or
    pension contributions, although these contributions will remain payable by the
  • The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months, until April 2021.
    Further guidance will be published shortly.



  • All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant.
  • Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the
    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • Large businesses will have to meet a financial assessment test, so the scheme is only available to those whose turnover is lower now than before experiencing difficulties from Covid-19. There will be no financial assessment test for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
  • Employees must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 23 September
    2020. This means a Real-Time-Information (RTI) submission notifying payment to
    that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 23 September 2020.
  • In order to support viable jobs, for the first three months of the scheme, the
    employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours. After 3 months, the
    Government will consider whether to increase this minimum hours threshold.
  • Employees will be able to cycle on and off the scheme and do not have to be
    working the same pattern each month, but each short-time working arrangement
    must cover a minimum period of seven days.
  • Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the
    period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee


Extending the existing Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):

An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus and it will be provided on similar terms to the Jobs Support Scheme.

The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total cap of £1,875.

An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April. More details are to be announced in the following weeks.


Tax Cuts & Deferrals

  • The government has announced an extension to the temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors to the end of March 2021.
  • Businesses who deferred their VAT payments will now have access to a new VAT payment scheme. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March 2021 they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.
  • The government will give the self-employed and other taxpayers more time to pay taxes due in January 2021.Taxpayers with up to £30,000 of Self-Assessment liabilities due will be able to use HMRC’s self-service Time to Pay facility to secure a plan to pay over an additional 12 months. This means that Self-Assessment liabilities due in July 2020 and January 2021 will not need to be paid in full until January 2022. 


Business Loans:

A new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans has been introduced to provide more flexibility to businesses in regards to repaying what is owed. This plan includes:

  • The government guarantee on these loans will be extended to 10 years as opposed to 6 (this should cut monthly payments by nearly half) and a new successor loan guarantee programme will be announced in January 2021.
  • Those struggling to pay the loans back will now be able to choose to make interest-only repayments and “anyone in real trouble” can suspend repayments altogether for up to six months. Credit ratings will be unaffected
  • The government also intends to give Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.
  • All loan schemes application deadlines have been extended and businesses will be able to apply for any of the following loans up until the 31 November 2020; Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund. 

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)


The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been set up and delivered by the British Business Bank (via accredited providers) with the aims of supporting primarily small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to access bank lending and overdrafts. This scheme will be operational with lenders from Monday 6 April 2020 and will close on Wednesday 30th September 2020.

Access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses that would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is also no longer a condition to access the scheme. 

Please note, you can not access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme as well as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which is also delivered by the British Business Bank. For more information on the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Please Click Here


You are Eligible if:

  • Your business is UK based, with a turnover of no more than £45 million per year.
  • You have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic.
  • You self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Not have been classed as a “business in difficulty” on 31 December 2019, if applying to borrow £30,000 or more


You can check your full eligibility using the following – British Business Bank Eligibility Checklist for SME’s


Key Details of the Scheme:

  • A lender can provide up to £5 million in the form of:
  1. term loans
  2. overdrafts
  3. invoice finance
  4. asset finance
  • CBILS gives the lender a government-backed guarantee for the loan repayments to encourage more lending.
  • The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied charges.
  • The borrower remains fully liable for the debt.
  • Under the scheme, personal guarantees of any form will not be taken for facilities below £250,000.
  • For facilities above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, but:
  1. recoveries under these are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied;
  2. a Principal Private Residence (PPR) cannot be taken as security to support a personal guarantee or as security for a CBILS-backed facility
  • Finance Options:
  1. For term loans and asset finance facilities: up to six years.
  2. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities: up to three years


How to Apply

To apply, visit the British Business Banks website to see their full list of accredited Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders. Click on a lender that applies to you and from here you will be directed to their website for further details on how you can apply for this scheme through them.


See the Full List of Accredited CBILS Lenders Here


There are 40 accredited providers in all and 22 participating lenders in Northern Ireland

You should talk to your bank or finance provider (this is not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss your business plan with them as new applications will not be accepted after Wednesday 30th September 2020. 

Bounce Back Loan – What You Need To Know!

Small businesses can now apply for quick and easy to access loans of up to £50,000, with the cash expected to be available within days. This is an interest and repayment free loan for a year. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme closes for any new applications on Wednesday 4th November 2020.

The scheme has been introduced to help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to borrow between £2,000 to £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there are no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months with a low interest rate of 2.5% thereafter.

Thousands of small firms and sole traders – including high street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists – will be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the Covid-19 outbreak. To be eligible for the loan your business must be based in the UK and have been negatively affected by Covid-19.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years and no repayments are due during the first 12 months. While you cannot apply for both this loan and a Coronavirus Business Interruption loan, if your business has already taken out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan of £50,000 or less you can apply to have this switched over to this generous new scheme. This can be arranged with your lender right up until the closing date on Wednesday 4 November 2020.

If you need the money and are comfortable borrowing money then this is a welcome lifeline. If you are unsure if you need the money but are confident that you can manage money, then generally it may still be a good idea to borrow this money and set it aside as an emergency fund. If in 12 months you did not need to use it you can repay it or else use it to pay off an existing more expensive loan, which will aid your cash flow for the remaining term of the loan.

Remember this is a loan, not a grant and the 100% Government Guarantee is to the bank; if the bank fails to get the money back from you, you (or your company where you trade as a Limited Company) will still be liable for repaying the amount of the loan.

On the British Business Bank website you can find a list of British Business Bank accredited lenders operating in Northern Ireland, if you click on their logo it will take you to their websites where you can apply online.


Click Here to Access the Full List of Accredited Lenders


Click Here for FAQ’s about the Bounce Back Loan


Disclaimer: You should only enter into a loan where you are satisfied that you will be able to repay the loan. The advice herein is generic and you should take specific advice before entering into any new loan agreements. 

Invest NI Innovation Voucher


Businesses in Northern Ireland can no apply online for up to £5,000 worth of innovation vouchers. This will allow businesses or potential entrepreneurs to work with a public sector knowledge provider e.g. University, College or Institute of Technology (NI and ROI) on an innovation project.

As this is the first call of a new five-year Innovation Vouchers Programme it effectively starts with a ‘clean slate’ so all applicants start afresh and can avail of three vouchers in the next five-year period (one voucher at a time). The first voucher is funded at 100% of the project cost to max £5000 and customers pay the VAT.


Typical projects the scheme support include:

  • Helping to create or improve products, services or processes
  • Access to specialist expertise in new materials.
  • Tapping into research and scientific expertise
  • Exploring new technologies
  • Exploring new business models


What the Scheme Does Not Support:

  • Standard mobile apps.
  • General sales activities.
  • Standard business advice.
  • General marketing activities.
  • Buying training for your business.
  • Buying equipment for your business.
  • Business plans and economic appraisals.
  • Website development and online optimisation.
  • Internships for students from knowledge institutions.
  • Software purchases and basic software development.
  • Aid that would promote or subsidise the cost of exports.
  • Achieving compliance with statutory regulations or legislation.
  • Testing products that are not within the ownership of your business.
  • Project costs incurred prior to the issue date of the Innovation Voucher.



  • You are a small enterprise, social enterprise or third sector organisation with less than 50 employees and either an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding €10 million with the exception of those engaged in transport or primary agriculture. See here for a full definition of SME.
  • You are a medium enterprise, social enterprise or third sector organisation with more than 50 employees but less than 250 employees, and either an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million or an annual balance sheet not exceeding €43 million. You must not have received assistance through Invest NI’s Grant for R&D programme in the past five years.
  • There are a number of areas of activity that are excluded from voucher support e.g. buying equipment, standard training, website optimisation and standard app development


How to Apply:

Before you can access the Innovation Voucher application form, you will need to answer a few preliminary questions to check that you are eligible to apply. If you meet the criteria, you will be invited to register on Invest NI’s MYINI portal, where you can access, update or submit your application form. 


Check Your Eligibility to Apply Here


Detailed Guidance Notes for the Application Process

FAQ’s About the Invest NI Innovation Vouchers


The submission deadline for Innovation Voucher applications is 3pm on Friday 25th Setpember 2020.

We recommend you submit your application well before the closing deadline as late forms will not be accepted.

Following the submission deadline, your application will be reviewed by the Assessment Panel. We aim to notify you of the Panel’s decision within four weeks of the closing date of the call. Decisions will also be available on your MYINI account.

If you are successful, your innovation voucher will be e-mailed to you. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified of the decision by e-mail. 

COVID-19 Equity Investment Fund


The Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds announced on 8th September 2020 that Invest NI is launching a new £5 million COVID-19 Equity Investment Fund (CEIF). CEIF will help early stage high-growth potential businesses in Northern Ireland access financing to progress their business plans and prepare for recovery and growth.


Support Available:

Support of up to a maximum of 50% of the funding round, is available:

  • through equity investment or convertible loan notes of up to a maximum of £700,000; and
  • on pari passu terms (meaning on substantially the same terms) as other investors in the funding round.

 It will offer access to investment funding if a company has maximised investment from all other funding sources, such as institutional and private investors, the Future Fund and Invest NI’s Access to Finance funds.



The fund supports technology and innovative businesses, with a focus on the following sectors:

  • Advance manufacturing, materials and engineering, including materials handling
  • Digital and creative technologies
  • Life and health sciences
  • Cyber security
  • Precision medicine
  • Big data, internet of things and analytics


Who is eligible?

As an early stage high-growth potential business, you are eligible if:

  • The majority of your business operation is based in Northern Ireland.
  • Your business is an unlisted small and medium-sized business (SME) operating in a market for less than seven years following the first commercial sale.
  • Your business was not in financial difficulty or subject to insolvency procedures at 31 December 2019, but is adversely impacted by COVID-19, including its ability to raise financing.
  • You can quantify the impact CEIF support will have on your business such as research and development into new products and/or helping you access new sales and marketing opportunities.
  • You can demonstrate your business has innovative technology, a significant international market opportunity, export growth prospects, credible promoters and a scalable business model.
  • You can demonstrate how the funding will increase the value of your business and outline potential exit opportunities.
  • You have already sourced investment from other investors but still have a shortfall in what you need to achieve your business plan.


Who cannot apply?

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • Banking and insurance companies.
  • Businesses operating in coal, steel or shipbuilding.
  • Businesses involved in decommissioning or the construction of nuclear power stations.
  • Manufacturing businesses associated with the processing and marketing of tobacco and tobacco products.
  • Businesses investing in airport infrastructure unless related to environmental protection or accompanied by investment necessary to mitigate or reduce its negative environmental impact.
  • Businesses facing difficulty within the meaning of Article 22 of the State Aid COVID-19 Temporary Measures at June 2020.
  • Agricultural producers associated with the processing and marketing of agricultural products supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
  • Agricultural producers in fisheries and aquaculture supported by the European Fisheries Fund.
  • Businesses providing general education to children of school age.
  • Businesses supporting or refurbishing retail facilities.
  • Businesses working in the synthetic fibres sector.
  • Businesses operating in defence and safety.


How to Apply:

CEIF is now open to applications and they can be submitted online.

If you have reviewed your funding needs with existing and potential funders and can confirm there is a gap as a direct result of COVID-19, please contact Invest NI to progress an application. 

If you are an existing Invest NI customer, you should contact your Client Executive.

If you are not an Invest NI customer, you should use the enquiry form to contact the CEIF Team at Invest NI who will assign you a Client Executive.


Click Here for the Enquiry Form


Click Here for Detailed Guidance Notes on the Application Process

 You will need the following information to complete the online application:

  • Your business name.
  • Your contact name and number.
  • Your business address and postcode.
  • The date you established your business in Northern Ireland.
  • If applicable, the group structure of your business.
  • Number of people you currently employ in Northern Ireland and other locations.
  • The financial year end of your business.
  • The annual turnover of your business.
  • The balance sheet total of your business.
  • Your company registration number or CRN issued by Companies House, beginning with NI followed by six numbers, for example NI123456.
You will also need to provide the following documentation electronically:

  • Your funding proposal template. – Click Here for the Template
  • Your latest financial statements, management accounts, capitalisation tables and financial forecasts.
After completing your funding proposal, the online application process should take approximately one hour, providing you have all the necessary information available. You can save your application and return to it at any time before the closing date on the 31st December 2020. 

COVID-19 Digital Selling Capability Grant


Invest NI’s Digital Selling Capability Grant (DSCG) has been designed to help SME’s in the retail and wholesale sector IN Northern Ireland ,selling physical products prepare for growth, maximise online sales, develop their customer base and find new markets. DSCG is part of a wider COVID-19 support package to help eligible businesses progress recovery plans, strengthen supply chains, develop new products and access finance.

The scheme is now live and the call for applications closes on 6pm on Wednesday 7th October 2020.

Applicants can complete an online eligibility checker before progressing to the application – The link to this can be found below.


Funding Available:

Businesses can claim a grant for 50% of eligible costs up to a maximum grant of £20,000 for projects – with a minimum eligible expenditure of £10,000.


Eligible Expenditure:

Eligible activities include consultancy services or expertise from a digital marketing or e-commerce supplier to:

  • carry out best practice research to identify relevant benchmarks
  • review current digital marketing capabilities and online sales channels
  • develop a digital marketing strategy to maximise online presence
  • develop an e-commerce strategy to drive sustainable growth in online sales
  • implement an enhanced online e-commerce system or improvements to your existing e-commerce solution for the business
  • in-house training and knowledge transfer to develop the digital marketing and e-commerce capability of the employees for the business
  • improve integration and automation with existing e-commerce systems


The following activities are not covered:

  • Upgrades to existing online channels that would happen anyway or could be considered business as usual.
  • The purchase of computer hardware and equipment, and software licences and subscriptions.
  • Pay-per-click or display advertising costs for online advertising on platforms such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, or purchasing mailing or membership lists.
  • Offline marketing costs.
  • Consultancy and/or supplier costs from related parties.



This scheme is open to all small or medium-sized retailer or wholesaler looking to grow their business online, you are eligible if:

  • Your business operation is based in Northern Ireland.
  • You are a small or medium-sized business employing 10 or more full-time equivalent staff in Northern Ireland.
  • Your business has an existing online presence such as a business website or social media channels.
  • Your business has a physical product, or a range of physical products, that can be sold online and shipped to customers.
  • In the past 12 months, or in the most recent financial year prior to 29 February 2020, more than 50% of your revenue has come from offline sales instead of online sales.
  • Your project is not receiving any other public funding such as government or European Union funding.
  • You are able to deliver your project, pay the costs in full and submit your claim to Invest NI before 26 March 2021.

If you are a business, which is part of a group structure with the same ultimate ownership, you can only submit one application across the group. Also, the business does not have to be an Invest NI customer to apply.


Who Cannot Apply:

  • Businesses involved in the primary production of agricultural products, fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Businesses providing hospitality and leisure services such as hotels, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
  • Businesses involved in the provision of a service such as travel agents, mechanics and tyre fitting services, grooming and beauty services, hair salons, tattoo artists, funeral directors, medical, dental and veterinary practices, accountancy, legal and financial services and insurance broker services.
  • Franchisees of retailers for whom the franchisor provides material online support such as online marketing or e-commerce expertise.
  • Businesses involved in activities that Invest NI considers as ineligible or as involving an unacceptable reputational risk, such as gambling, adult entertainment, tobacco products and cannabis-based products, which are not, authorised as medicines.
  • Businesses that cannot demonstrate they have a viable and profitable operation.


How To Apply

Invest NI’s Digital Selling Capability Grant is now open for applications.

Click Here for Detailed Guidance Notes on the Application Process


Click Here to Check your Eligibility and Apply


You will need the following information to complete the online application form:

  • Your business name.
  • Your contact name and number.
  • Your business address and postcode.
  • The date you established your business in Northern Ireland.
  • Number of people you employ in Northern Ireland.
  • The financial year-end of your business.
  • The annual turnover of your business.
  • The balance sheet total of your business.
  • Annual accounts and financial projections including offline and online sales.
  • Details of the project with costs, tasks and timelines.
  • Your company registration number (if applicable) issued by Companies House, beginning with NI followed by six numbers, for example, NI123456.
  • Supplier quotation(s) for all the project costs included in the application form.

Covid-19 Business Recovery & Revitalisation Grant Scheme


Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have opened the Covid-19 Business Recovery & Revitalisation Grant Scheme on Thursday 17th September 2020 with the aim of supporting economic recovery and revitalisation of local businesses in the district.

This is a capital grant scheme for property owners/tenants of eligible business/commercial properties to apply for the purchase of new capital items (including infrastructure) that will help their business to adapt and implement social distancing measures in adherence with Covid-19 guidelines, which will help to protect both staff and customers.


Funding Available:

You can secure 100% funding on eligible costs up to a maximum grant of £2,500 (Minimum £500), with maximum project costs being capped at £9,999.99. 

There is one rolling application process until all funds are allocated therefore it is on a first come, first served basis.


Eligible improvements may include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Infrastructure to meet social distancing requirements.
  • Awnings/canopies to protect customers who may have to queue to enter business premises.
  • Outdoor furniture such as covered seating (tables, chairs)
  • External heaters
  • Planters
  • PA/Tannoy
  • Digital screens and Signage
  • Equipment to allow widening of footpaths to support social distancing and the safe movement of people through our town centres such as pedestrian safety barriers.
  • Any adaptions necessary to the internal layout of the business premises to ensure compliance with Covid-19 social distancing protocols (e.g., flexi-panels/screens at counters, one way systems, building / remodelling works, etc.).
  • Equipment to allow the business to operate safely and provide reassurance to customers, e.g. freestanding hand sanitiser stations, etc. Internal/external shopper collection points to avoid customers having to fully enter the business premises.


Ineligible Expenditure:

  • Retrospective items i.e. work or items which already completed or underway
  • Works which require planning permission which is not in place prior to works commencing
  • Works/Renovations which do not assist the business to meet Covid-19 Government Regulations
  • Hire Purchase of goods
  • Consumable items such as: hand sanitiser, PPE, visors etc.
  • Websites cannot be funded
  • Software must be purchased with hardware
  • Statutory and Licencing fees (e.g. Building Control Approval, Planning Permission etc), etc. Insurances, Interest (on loans taken out to fund your building project)
  • VAT (except if the applicant is not VAT registered)
  • Salaries/Wages cost
  • Professional Fees
  • Works to vacant properties and/or residential properties


Who can apply:

Your business must be:

  • Urban and rural town businesses located within the settlement areas as outlined
    in the Fermanagh and Omagh district,
  • An existing, registered private business that is actively trading commercially for at least the last 3 months,
  • Able to provide HMC self-assessment number, company number or charity number,
  • Able to provide a bank statement (or other financial institution account for the sole purpose of business, ie. Separate from personal financials) in the name of your business dated in the last 3 months must also be provided.

Properties that are ineligible to apply for grant aid include government
organisations, political organisations, churches, community and voluntary groups,
financial institutions and mainstream agricultural activities are not eligible. 


For more information about this grant please contact the FODC’s business support team here: 


Telephone: 0300 303 1777

Click Here For Guidance Notes on Applying


Applications are Now Open – Click Here to Apply 

NI COVID-19 Apprenticeship Recovery Package


The NI Economy Minister, Diane Dodds has announced an incentive package to encourage employers to bring back furloughed apprentices, or hire new apprentices into the workplace. The new Apprenticeship Scheme will begin on 1st November 2020, when the UK wide Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.


Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result initiative:

£14.3million has been allocated to fund the new Apprenticeship Return, Retain, and Result initiative. According to the NI Economy Minister, there are currently up to 4,500 furloughed apprentices in both Apprenticeships NI and Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes.

Who Is Eligible

This scheme is open to employers participating in the Department for the Economy funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes, who return their furloughed apprentices to work since April 2020

Support Available

The total amount payable under the scheme will be a maximum of £3,700 per apprentice, distribution as follows:

Return – £500 per Returned Furloughed Apprentice

  • Payable for the first full month of paid apprenticeship from 1 November 2020 (after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends) for a period of at least 4 weeks.
  • For earlier returners, continued employment for the month of November 2020, will constitute the qualifying period for the “Return” incentive. This incentive will be paid on submitted claims with appropriate evidence of furlough and employment from December 2020.

Retain – Maximum of £2,000 Available from April 2021:

  • £500 per month for up to 4 months of paid apprenticeship between 1 December 2020 and 31 March 2021
  • The period of retain will also adjust to reflect any in-month apprentice returners. For example, if an apprentice returned on the 12 November, the return month would be captured as 12 November to 11 December.

Result – £1,200 for successful full framework achievement of a returned furloughed apprentice

  • This incentive is payable alongside any of the other employer incentives and will be payable on submission of proof of full framework achievement of the AppsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA).
  • The timing of this payment will depend upon when the apprenticeship is successfully completed and will be payable for all successful completions beginning from 1 November 2020.

Please Note: Once an apprenticeship is complete, no further retain incentive beyond the completion date can be claimed.

What Evidence Will I Need?

It is important that you retain all of the following details:

  • When your apprentice was furloughed
  • When your apprentice returned and was retained, in paid employment during the period claimed, this can be up to the total period of 5 months (1 month return and up to 4 months retained) and,
  • When your apprentice has continued and completed their paid apprenticeship

Further details of evidence requirements will be detailed in the application pack, which will be released in due course.

Click Here for FAQ’s About the Return, Retain and Result initiative


Apprenticeship Recruitment Incentive:

£12.5million has been allocated to fund an Apprenticeship Recruitment Incentive initiative which will hopefully encourage and support employers to create apprenticeship opportunities for both new apprentices and apprentices who have been made redundant due to financial difficulties during COVID-19.

Support Available

Any employers who create a new apprenticeship opportunity between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 will be eligible to receive £3,000 per apprentice. This will apply to all new apprenticeship opportunities created within this period and includes apprentices who have been made redundant.

  • Payment 1 – £2,000 after 90 days retention
  • Payment 2 – £1,000 after 200 days retention from first employment

Who Is Eligible?

This scheme is open to any employers who take on an apprentice participating in the DfE-funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes.  

Checks will be made during the application process to ensure that apprentices on similar pathways have not been displaced to support recruitment if this is found to be the case eligibility may be impacted.

Please Note – programme eligibility excludes public sector employees.

Details on the application process and further eligibility details will be provided in due course.

Click Here For FAQ’s About The Apprenticeship Recruitment Incentive


Apprenticeship Challenge Fund:

An Apprenticeship Challenge Fund is currently in development to promote greater collaboration between employers and suppliers, whilst maintaining the employers’ role at the centre of the apprenticeship system. This will help create room for the Department for the Economy (DfE) to take a more creative and innovative approach to solving problems, which could include, but not be limited to:

  • Shared Apprenticeship Models
  • Apprenticeship Brokerage Service
  • Employer Apprenticeship Mentoring Programmes to give managers the skills they need to effectively manage apprentices/apprenticeship programmes gaining maximum benefit for the employer
  • Apprentice Mentoring Programme to help new apprentices integrate into businesses
  • The removal of monetary and non-monetary barriers to recruitment; Identify monetary/non-monetary barriers

Support Available

The Challenge Fund currently has a budget of up to £0.5m which will see successful applicants receiving one-off awards of up to £50,000. There is also an option to increase this for proposals with multiple partners or features.

Funding will be via a grant to successful applicants following a competitive assessment process. Eligible costs will be identified in a Letter of Offer to successful applicants, but could typically include staff costs, the costs involved in collaboration/engagement, marketing etc.

Application Details

Applications for the Challenge Fund are set to be released in October 2020 and awards made available in November 2019, however the exact dates are yet to be confirmed. Successful applicants must complete all funded activity by 31 March 2021.

Further details of the Challenge Fund, along with information on how you can apply for the support, will be announced within the next few weeks. 

COVID-19 Emergency Business Solutions Grant


InterTradeIreland are offering grants that will 100% cover the costs of professional advice to address key business challenges as a result of COVID-19, to the value of £2,000 (inc VAT).

This is available to all businesses who have cross border trade in manufacturing and tradable services.


Support is provided for the following:

  • Guidance and direction to relevant government supports and help in applying where feasible
  • Emergency cash flow, people, supply chain
  • Completion of lending applications for loan supports
  • Legal Issues (HR, employment and redundancy advice, contracts, advice on leases)
  • Help businesses diversify to offer other products or services
  • Health and Safety / Business Risk
  • Rapidly repositioning your business strategy (N.B. This key area is delivered via 1:1 workshops. No other key areas can be used in conjunction with this option as the cost constitutes the total support amount of £2,000).


Eligibility Criteria

  • A manufacturing or tradable service business registered on the island of Ireland (North or South)
  • Engaged in cross border trade
  • Have a satisfactory trading history (min. 18 months & established turnover)
  • Have the capacity to deliver the project
  • Have less than 250 employees and annual turnover of less than £40million (or Euro Equivalent)


Please note: Businesses involved in retail, distribution and agriculture are not eligible for assistance under this scheme.

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