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COVID-19 UPDATE: Wednesday 8th April 2020 (Issue No.15)

In last night’s webinar with Feargal McCormack, MD at PKF-FPM, there were lots of questions about the “Furlough Scheme”.

A further update is given below on the opening date for Furlough applications.

As a Chamber, we are continuing to represent the interests of our members.

This afternoon, along with Belfast, Derry and Causeway Chambers, I was involved in a useful teleconference call with the Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, MLA and I have provided a summary of our discussion below.

Also included in this update is information on the Business Growth Programme from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, which is an excellent online programme that provides valuable support for businesses located within the district.

A further update on applying for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme completes today’s update.

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 Chamber, along with Belfast, Causeway Coast and Derry Chambers had a useful teleconference this afternoon with Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, MLA.

The Minister confirmed they had paid out 14,000 of the £10,000 grant to eligible small businesses. She recognised that some small businesses and other operators like businesses in Social Enterprise Centres couldn’t claim the grant and the Executive was looking at the options for supporting other businesses.

On the £25k grant for businesses in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors she advised that her officials were finalising the details on this scheme and hoped to soon be in a position to confirm arrangements for eligibility and payment. 

The Chambers provided the Minister with an update on how the Business Interruption Loan Scheme was operating in their areas and asked us to keep her informed of any challenges.

She recognised the challenges faced by businesses right across the economy and asked us to provide a sectoral update for each of our own areas. I will be in contact with members about this in the coming days.

The need for a focus on recovery and for businesses to prepare for getting back into operation was recognised. The Chambers stressed the need for a coordinated programme of support and communications from Invest NI, InterTradeIreland, Councils, Local Enterprise Centres and others involved in economic support.


Newry Chamber welcomes HMRC’s confirmation this morning that the portal for making Furlough Claims will be open on 20th April 2020 and payments by 30th April 2020.

Businesses need their claims paid by the end of the month to cover their outlay on wages.

Speaking to a committee of MPs, Jim Harra, Chief Executive of HMRC said:

“The IT service has been tested at a volume of 450,000 claims an hour and the biggest challenge will be to make sure as many employers as possible can self-cert so they don’t need to ring HMRC.”

“The basic IT service behind the Furlough Scheme was deployed over the weekend and is undergoing live testing with a number of invited employers this morning.”

On the Self-Employed Scheme, Jim Harra suggested that HMRC will not be asking questions and if it turns out that a person really didn’t need it, that it will be captured naturally by the tax system further down the line.

You can view the revised guidance here.


The deadline to register for the Business Resilience Programme is TOMORROW and it is part of a wider series of initiatives to help local businesses located within the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area, navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

This is a focused and tailored programme designed specifically to assist SME’s across the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area to take stock of the reality of their business in light of recent developments and help you make firm and clear decisions about the way forward for their business.

Eligible businesses must be:

  • Based in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area; and
  • Employ less than 50 people.

To register your interest:
Please contact Sandy at Full Circle Management Solutions via:

Email: sandy@fullcircle.eu.com
Phone: 028 9069 1027

DEADLINE TO REGISTER: Thursday 9th April at 12 noon


The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) supports SMEs with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. This aims to ensure that smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan, subject to pre-lender cap on claims, to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.

You’re eligible if your business:

  • is based in the UK;
  • has an annual turnover of up to £45 million;
  • has a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic; and
  • businesses with a turnover of over £45 million may be entitled to other government support.

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers);
  • public-sector bodies;
  • further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded; and
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools.

How to apply:

The full rules of the scheme and guidance on how to apply are available on the British Business Bank website. 

A full list of accredited financial institutions is available here.

You should apply the lender directly via their respected websites to apply.