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COVID-19 UPDATE: Tuesday 5th May 2020 (Issue No.27)

The Furlough Scheme has been an important part of the government’s support measures for businesses during COVID-19.

The focus now switches to support for the self-employed, with applications opening for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme on Wednesday 13th May 2020.

You will find useful information below on how to apply.

This afternoon I was involved in a useful briefing session with UK and NI Government Ministers. The update below provides members with a summary of our discussion.

Thank you to the businesses who have already completed the survey we published last night. If you didn’t get a chance to complete the survey, I would still be interested in your views.

The link to the survey is in the update below.

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.

You can contact me at:

Stay safe.

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


On behalf of Chamber Members, I attended a business teleconference this afternoon with NI Economy Minister, Diane Dodds MLA, Nadhim Zahawi MP, the UK Minister for Business and Industry and Robin Walker MP, Minister of State for NI.

One of the many key points to come out of the meeting was confirmation from the Economy Minister that the hardship fund for businesses that missed out on the support grants will open in the next few days.

It will be aimed at small micro businesses of 1-9 employees, that didn’t benefit from the £10,000 small business grant.

The Minister also confirmed that they had paid out 21,000 of the £10,000 grant and had received 2,500 applications for the £25,000 grant.

It is important to remember that applications for both schemes close on Wednesday 20th of May 2020.

On the Furlough Scheme, The UK Minister for Business and Industry agreed that “a cliff edge scenario with the scheme ending in June is not the right way forward. Such a scenario would lose the positive impact of the Furlough scheme.”

The understanding is that this is something Treasury is looking at.


Following on from the initial announcement from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP on Thurs 26th March 2020, regarding the £9bn economic support package to help the self-employed, HMRC will begin contacting individuals from Mon 4th May 2020 who are eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Those who are eligible for the SEISS will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a max. of £7,500, equivalent to 3 months’ profits, paid in a single instalment.

HMRC is also inviting customers or their agents to:
Go online and check their eligibility for SEISS.

In order to receive quick confirmation from the eligibility checker, you should:

Once the online check is complete, eligible customers will be given a date when they can submit their claim and will also be encouraged to update their contact details.

The claim service will open on Wed 13th May 2020 and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by Mon 25th May 2020 or within six working days of completing a claim.

Individuals are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by COVID-19, they traded in the tax year 2019-2020, intend to continue trading and they:

  • Earn at least half of their income through self-employment;
  • Have trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year; and
  • Traded in the tax year 2018-2019 & submitted their self-assessment tax return on or before 23rd April 2020 for that year.

HMRC is using info that customers have provided in their 2018-2019 tax return and returns for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 where needed, to determine their eligibility and is contacting customers who may be eligible via email, text message of letter.

For further information on eligibility, please click HERE.


Colm Shannon, Chief Executive Officer of Newry Chamber said:

“Confirmation by the NI Finance Minister, Conor Murphy MLA, of over £700m for City and Growth Deals, is very welcome news for the Greater Newry Area.”

“I spoke with Conor Murphy MLA last week and stressed to him the importance of the City Deal Programme and the part it could play in the COVID-19 Recovery Plan.”

“The Greater Newry Area is a key part of the Belfast Region City Deal and projects include the Southern Relief Road, as well as a visitor destination experience in the Mourne Mountains. City Deal also represents an important investment in innovation and skills.”

“These are vital projects for the local economy. The Southern Relief Road is a key infrastructure project which will improve access to Warrenpoint Port and the Mournes, as well as reducing congestion in Newry City Centre.”


Thank you to the many businesses who have already responded to our short survey.

For those members who haven’t yet responded, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to complete the survey and ensure that the voices of businesses from right across the Greater Newry Area continues to be heard.

Following on from the survey we published just before Easter, we are keen to get an update directly from our members about the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and what areas in particular are of the greatest concern to you.

Together with Belfast, Derry and Causeway Chambers, we have put together a short survey to assess your views on a range of ongoing issues and get up to date feedback which will enable us to continue to lobby on your behalf.

The survey only takes a few minutes to complete and all answers will be confidential.