The schemes – one administered by Tourism Northern Ireland and the other by Invest Northern Ireland – have been developed to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) assess the impacts of Covid-19 and develop a strategic recovery plan for the business.

Both schemes – which open tomorrow – will provide up to £8,000 to eligible businesses to undertake a business and financial review to plan for recovery.

Announcing the schemes the Minister said: “Invest NI’s £2m Covid-19 Business and Financial Planning Grant will support businesses by contributing toward the cost of an adviser to carry out an analysis and strategic review of the business. The consultant will then work with the business to develop a strategic recovery plan with financial forecasts.

“It is targeted at businesses operating in the areas of manufacturing, construction, professional services and those involved in the information and communication sector, and in the science and technology sectors, as well as businesses which are already working with Invest NI.”

The Minister added: “Tourism NI’s Business and Financial Planning Support Programme is designed to help tourism businesses recover post-Covid. The tourism market has now changed. Business now need to adapt to attract closer-to-home markets and to cope with changing consumer demand.

“Therefore businesses need support to inform critical decisions and to ensure longer-term sustainability. But many do not have the cash flow to invest in the recovery planning. Tourism businesses, which remain critical to supporting recovery, now need this support to face an increasingly competitive marketplace. This programme will provide advisory support to tourism businesses to develop their recovery plans.”

The Minister concluded: “I am determined to support our SMEs and our tourism industry to reset and rebuild in this changed environment as they are fundamental to our economic recovery.”

Kevin Holland, Chief Executive of Invest NI, said: “Invest NI’s new scheme is designed to help businesses critically review their business operations. It will provide financial support to allow micro and SME businesses to engage experienced consultants to review existing strategies and help identify weaknesses, risks and opportunities; and then develop robust recovery plans and forecasts for the future.

“This tailored, practical support is one of the best ways we can ensure more businesses not only survive the pressures of Covid-19 but come out the other end stronger.”

John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism NI said: “This is a very challenging time for many tourism businesses across Northern Ireland as we move into the low season whilst trying to manage the continued uncertainty arising from Covid-19. Tourism NI’s programme will help support those businesses to put in place plans to help them survive the winter period and best position them for recovery.”

Eligible businesses for the Invest NI Covid-19 Business and Financial Planning Grant must be a micro or SME with an annual turnover of at least £500,000 that have experienced a 40% reduction in turnover during the period April-June 2020 as a result of Covid-19.

Applicants to the Tourism NI Businesses and Financial Planning Support Progamme must be an existing tourism business operating in Northern Ireland. Both schemes will open for applications at 9am tomorrow (7 October 2020). It will close at 5pm on 30 November 2020.

For more information about the programme please click here.