Business Insight

Bounce Back Loan Scheme & NI Hardship Fund

This is an update on two Government support schemes announced in the last few weeks.

  1. THE BOUNCE BACK LOAN SCHEMEThe Bounce Back Loan Scheme is a new scheme introduced to help smaller businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19). It aims to assist those businesses to borrow between £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover (the maximum amount available is £50,000).

Government will cover any interest payable in the first 12 months through a Business Interruption Payment to the lender, and lenders will benefit from a 100% government-backed guarantee.

The government has set the interest rate for this loan at 2.5% per annum and the repayment term is fixed at six years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. Businesses remain 100% liable to repay the full loan amount, as well as interest, after the first year.

The Scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.
At the moment there are a number of lenders available locally including Ulster Bank, Danske bank, AIB, Bank of Ireland and there are other lenders available such as Starling, HSBC, Barclays.

If you need any help with applying for a loan then please let us know but the process has been designed to be straight forward.


The NI Executive has launched a new NI Micro-business Hardship Fund to help Northern Ireland based micro-businesses and social enterprises unable to access other regional and national COVID-19 support measures.

The first point to make is if you have already received an SME grant of £10,000 or £25,000 then you CANNOT apply for the hardship fund also.

Summary of the scheme

The funding is available to businesses unable to access the £10,000, £25,000 and Covid-19 Childcare Support grant schemes.

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 occupies.


Who is eligible
Businesses should ensure they meet the following criteria before applying to the fund:

  • The business must be based in Northern Ireland.
  • At 29 February 2020, the business must have employed between one and nine 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.

Who cannot apply
The NI Micro-business Hardship Fund is open to all micro-business and social enterprises excluding the following:

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.

You can check your eligibility & make an application here using the following link –

Applications for the NI Micro-business Hardship Fund will close at 6 pm on Friday 12 June 2020.

If you have any questions on this or if you want help checking if you are eligible, then please let us know.