Coronavirus: Small manufacturing firms qualify for £10k grant

By Clodagh Rice
BBC News NI Business Correspondent

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image captionAn email sent to firms said the earliest date to expect payment is 22 April

Small manufacturing firms in Northern Ireland will now qualify for a £10,000 coronavirus support grant.

The grant will be available to 2,500 firms, the economy minister confirmed.

It was originally to be paid to firms that qualify for small business rates relief with a rateable value of less than £15,000.

Small manufacturing firms did not qualify because they are covered by a different rates relief known as industrial derating.

Companies which had previously applied to the scheme received an email confirming eligibility, saying the earliest date to expect payment is 22 April.

More than 14,000 payments have already made to businesses who applied for the £10,000 grant.

Meanwhile, the economy minister says applications for a larger grant scheme of £25,000 for those in retail, hospitality and tourism will open on Monday April 20th.

Applications will take 15 working days, subject to eligibility.

Both schemes will close on 20 May.

A "hardship" fund is also being set to support businesses currently falling through the cracks, not eligible for existing support.

Details of the fund are expected at a later date.