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COVID-19 UPDATE: Tuesday 31st March 2020 (Issue No.11)

Today was budget day for the NI Executive. I have included in this update some further business rates measures announced by the Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, MLA.

£10,000 grants for small businesses are now being paid out to eligible businesses.

We are still waiting to hear how the £25,000 grant will be paid. This is a one-off grant of £25,000 to ratepayers in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors who pay rates on a property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Once the Chamber gets further information on this grant, we will provide an update.

The NI Executive has also announced that no business will be disadvantaged by the new non-domestic Valuation List (Reval2020) coming into effect on 1st April 2020.

They want to be as inclusive and supportive of business as possible to ensure that no individual business is disadvantaged by the change, so each business affected by Reval2020 will get the grant on the basis of whichever valuation list would benefit them most.

I hope you find these updates of value. If you have any queries which you can’t get answered, let us know. If I can, I will cover them in our next update.

Monitor our social media channels and check your email inbox for regular updates.

You can contact me at:

Stay safe.

Colm Shannon,
Chief Executive Officer
Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade


The NI Executive’s 2020-21 Budget has been published and includes several rates measures. These will be kept under review and further steps may be deemed necessary by the NI Executive.

  • Rates Reduction: The Regional Rate has been adjusted downward to offset the change in the total rateable value due to Reval2020. A further 12.5 per cent cut has now been made in the Budget.
  • Rates Holiday For Businesses: As previously announced, all business ratepayers will benefit from a three-month business rate holiday. This is to help SMEs with the significant cash flow difficulties they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be shown as a 25 per cent discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.
  • Small Business Rate Relief: The Small Business Rate Relief Scheme will be continued in 2020-21.The rates of relief and thresholds for eligibility have not changed.
  • Rural ATM Rates Relief: The Rural ATM Rates Relief Scheme has been restored which will help to sustain cash flow in isolated rural areas.
  • Delay In Rates Bills: The NI Executive has advised that rates bills for businesses will be delayed until the last possible moment, with the first bills to be issued in June.

When rate bills are issued in June 2020, ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between June 2020 and March 2021. Monthly Direct Debit Payment Plans will be updated to collect payments from June 2020 and March 2021.


In addition to the COVID-19 measures announced, there are other existing reliefs available.

These rate support schemes include:

  • Industrial Derating: Provides manufacturing businesses with a 70 per cent reduction in rate.
  • Charitable Exemption For Rates: Offers charitable bodies 100 per cent relief.
  • Sports & Recreation Rate Relief: Provides sport and recreation bodies 80 per cent relief on the parts of their premises that are used for sporting purposes. Community amateur clubs receive 100 per cent relief.
  • Non-Domestic Vacant Rating: rates are payable on vacant non-domestic properties at 50 per cent of the normal level.


Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has implemented significant changes to the Digital Growth Programme to help small businesses in the council area.

From this week, one-to-one mentoring support will be delivered by a digital expert through Google Meet, to help businesses learn new skills and develop confidence in using online platforms and technologies.

In addition to this, there will be a series of four ‘Go To Webinars’ over the coming months, which will be open to ALL small businesses within the council area

Chair of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Charlie Casey said:

“It is a challenging time for businesses and we have worked with the programme delivery team to make important changes to how the Digital Growth Programme will be delivered to ensure we can act now and guide people through this uncertain time.”

To apply for one-to-one mentoring support or to register for one of the four Webinars, please go to:



If you have unfortunately lost your job due to COVID-19, we can help.

Working in partnership with our colleagues in Grafton Recruitment Ireland, we are reaching out to help those find employment in such challenging times.