COVID-19 Business and Financial Planning Grant

9th November 2020

The Minister for the Economy has launched a new £2 million COVID-19 Business and Financial Planning Grant (BFPG) from Invest Northern Ireland

BFPG is open to all micro and small or medium-sized businesses in Northern Ireland that are Invest NI customers, or operating in manufacturing, construction, professional services, information and communication, or science and technology.

It provides eligible businesses with financial support to work with a consultant to assess the impact of COVID-19 and develop a strategic recovery plan with financial forecasts.

The call for applications is open until 5pm on Monday 30 November 2020.

What is available?

Businesses can access up to a maximum grant of £8,000 to support 80% of eligible costs to engage a consultant to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by:

  • reviewing the current business model
  • carrying out a comprehensive business health check
  • determining how to minimise costs and maximise liquidity
  • identify funding shortfalls and potential sources of funding
  • develop a strategic recovery plan with financial forecasts

View the approved list of consultants (PDF, 425K).

BFPG will be issued to eligible businesses on a first-come-first-served basis. We recommend you make a timely submission as the grant will close to applications, either:

  • when the available budget of £2 million is fully allocated; or
  • on the closing date of 5pm Monday 30 November 2020, whichever comes first.

Eligibility

As a micro and small or medium-sized business, you are eligible if:

  • Your business operation is based in Northern Ireland.
  • You employ less than 250 full-time equivalent staff.
  • Your business has an annual turnover not exceeding £42.5 million and a balance sheet total not exceeding £36.5 million.
  • Your business has a turnover of at least £500,000 in one of the three most recent financial years, prior to 31 December 2019.
  • Your business experienced a reduction in turnover in excess of 40% as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • You are an existing Invest NI customer or a business operating in one of the following Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) sectors.
    • manufacturing
    • construction
    • information and communication
    • professional, scientific and technical activities
  • You can deliver your project, pay the costs in full and submit your claim to Invest NI before 5pm on 26 February 2021.

If your business provides accommodation or food services to the tourism sector and is listed on Discover Northern Ireland, you could be eligible for the COVID-19 Business and Financial Planning Support Programme for tourism industry.

Who cannot apply?

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • Businesses employing more than 249 full-time equivalent staff with an annual turnover exceeding £42.5 million and a balance sheet total exceeding £36.5 million.
  • Unless an existing Invest NI customer, businesses operating in one of the following Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) sectors.
    • agriculture, forestry and fishing
    • mining and quarrying
    • electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
    • water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
    • wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
    • transportation and storage
    • accommodation and food service activities
    • financial and insurance activities
    • real estate activities
    • administrative and support service activities
    • public administration and defence; compulsory social security
    • education
    • human health and social work activities
    • arts, entertainment and recreation
    • other service activities
    • activities of households as employers
    • activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies
  • 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.

How to apply

The BFPG is open for applications. Please read the detailed guidance notes (PDF, 452K) before you submit an application.

You can use the online eligibility checker to find out if you can apply for the grant.

Check if you are eligible and apply


Invest NI customers
Upon successful completion of the eligibility checker referred to above, Invest NI customers should contact the Invest NI Business Support Team on 0800 181 4422. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.00pm.

The Business Support Team will register your interest in BFPG and your Invest NI Client Executive will then give you access to the online application form.

All other businesses
If you are not an Invest NI customer and have successfully completed the eligibility checker you should contact the Invest NI Business Support Team on 0800 181 4422.

The Business Support Team will take you through the onboarding process of becoming an Invest NI customer where you will need to provide the following information:

  • business name and address
  • trading name (if applicable), trading status and business location
  • Northern Ireland or foreign company registration number (if applicable)
  • contact details (email and telephone number)

Invest NI will then allocate you a Client Executive who will be in contact within two working days to give you access to the online application form.

Your Client Executive will also email you a New Client Form for completion. You will need to return this form along with copy documentation to verify address and identity. A video call will be organised to verify the copy documentation to originals.

Making an application

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, annual turnover and balance sheet total of your business.
  • Your company registration number (if applicable) issued by Companies House, beginning with NI followed by six numbers, for example NI123456.
  • Consultant undertaking the work and agreed fee (further detail below).

You will need to provide electronically:

  • Signed company accounts to verify your business has a turnover of at least £500,000 in one of the three most recent financial years, prior to 31 December 2019.
  • Management accounts or accounting system extracts for April to June 2019 and April to June 2020, as evidence to demonstrate you have had a 40% reduction in turnover as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approved consultants

Invest NI has compiled a list of approved consultants (PDF, 425K) with experience in business planning, financial modelling and assisting businesses to raise capital.

Eligible businesses are expected to select a consultant from this list to work on their project. If there is a preference for using a consultant who is not on this list, they will be expected to apply in accordance with the published guidance for the BFPG Call for Consultants (PDF, 58K) before a business can use them.

The consultants on this list have declared that they have sufficient full-time resource and the capacity to deliver the work in accordance with the Terms of Reference (PDF, 236K). This document should be used in discussions between businesses and consultants to agree the project scope to deliver a worthwhile piece of work.

It is the responsibility of applicants to engage a consultant of their choice from this list, agree a scope of works, agree a fee, and be satisfied with their output and to make payment.

  • The maximum daily rate is £750 per consultant per day, inclusive of travel and subsistence and all out of pocket expenses.
  • The maximum hourly rate is £100 per hour based on a 7.5-hour working day, inclusive of travel and subsistence and all out of pocket expenses.

More information

If you have any enquiries about the COVID-19 Business and Financial Planning Grant complete this enquiry form.

You can also call Invest NI’s Business Support Team on 0800 181 4422. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm.

COVID-19 Business and Financial Planning Support Programme for tourism industry

The Minister for the Economy has also launched, through Tourism NI, a COVID-19 Business and Financial Planning Support Programme for the tourism industry.

For full details see COVID-19 Business and Financial Planning Support Programme for tourism industry.

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