Executive announces £40m support for Northern Ireland's hospitality sector

24 December 2021 by
Executive announces £40m support for Northern Ireland's hospitality sector

The Executive has announced a £40m support package for hospitality businesses ahead of further restrictions due to fall on the sector after Christmas.

More than 3,200 businesses will be eligible for a one-off grant under the Omicron Hospitality Payment: £10,000 for businesses with a rateable value up to £15,000; £15,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,001 to £51,000; and £20,000 for businesses with a rateable value over £51,000.

Eligible businesses will include restaurants, cafés, coffee shops, bistros, snack bars, nightclubs, pubs, social clubs and private members' clubs (but not sporting clubhouses).

It was announced earlier this week that in Northern Ireland, nightclubs will have to close from 6am on Boxing Day. From 27 December, businesses will once more be restricted to table service only, with tables of a maximum of six people, or 10 people from a single household.

First minister Paul Givan said: "Businesses in the hospitality sector are facing huge difficulty at what should be their busiest time of the year. The rise in Omicron cases is resulting in cancellations as people understandably exercise caution.

"Recognising businesses in the hospitality sector are likely to struggle over the coming weeks, the Executive is providing £40m in one-off support grants."

Deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill added: "As an Executive, we have been listening to industry and recognise the losses the sector is experiencing. We hope this package, which will pay much greater amounts than the English scheme, will help them through these difficult circumstances.

"As an Executive we will do all we can to support the hospitality industry as we fight this pandemic together. It is also essential that the Westminster government reintroduces the furlough scheme for workers as a matter of urgency."

Land & Property Services will contact eligible businesses during the week commencing 10 January to ask them to confirm their details to enable payments to be made.

Finance minister Conor Murphy said the grants would "provide much-needed support to industry", and added: "We will be continuing to work throughout the Christmas period to get this new grant scheme up and running as quickly as possible. Further details will be published as soon as possible."

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said it was a "very welcome move" to bring forward financial compensation to this side of Christmas, as it was initially understood that discussions would not take place until 30 December.

He said: "We appreciate the amount is more than was given in England and are glad and relieved that this assistance has been accelerated. It is now vital that the money gets to those in the sector who need it as swiftly as possible and that the anxiety created in the last 24hrs alone can be reduced. This support will mean that business owners and staff can breathe a small sigh of relief and go into the holiday period with at least some sort of short term security.

"Not everyone will get what they need, but this is a start at such a critical juncture. We are now in the process of having further discussion on how nightclubs can be supported properly and how to ensure that as we move forward they are compensated for their forced closure."

Photo: James Kennedy NI/Shutterstock

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