Here at the Lisburn Chamber of Commerce, we want to support our members in every way possible during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This page will be updated regularly with any new information that helps to support and inform businesses during this time. With the rapidly changing nature of Covid-19, we also encourage you to continue checking official advice from the Northern Ireland Executive UK Government and the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council websites.
What We Know About the Economic Restart
Attention is now firmly turning to both UK and local NI government plans re the relaxation of lockdown measures and the economic re-start. As you will be aware, on 12th May 2020 the NI Executive published its ‘Executive Approach to Decision Making’, highlighting the 5 key stages of the relaxation of lockdown rules, though specific timescales for each stage have not yet been specified. Although the first minister, Arlene Foster, said she hoped to reach the final stage by December.
Through our links with other Northern Ireland Chambers of Commerce, we are playing an active role in informing and shaping local Lisburn issues. If you’d like to feed into this process, please contact us This is also the place to send any views you have on Northern Ireland’s exit planning, and to share what support your business or sector needs to ensure you can safely and securely restart operations as soon as government guidelines allow.
What Support Is Available?
In terms of financial support available to businesses, the UK Government has to date announced a range of measure outlined below. The UK Government has also created an online support finder which will allow you to quickly find out which support measures you may be eligible for – please access this here.
At a more local level Invest Northern Ireland has an excellent business advice hub with all the UK business support identified but more importantly specific advice on, Support and guidance for businesses in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland only programmes include:
Business Rates Holiday
A four-month rates holiday for all NI business ratepayers ie no rates will be charged for April, May, June and July 2020 This will be shown as a discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers. How to access ? Automatic – no application required
Business Rates Relief for Retail, Hospitality, Tourism, Leisure and Childcare
A full year rates holiday for businesses in the hospitality, tourism and leisure, retail (excluding certain supermarkets and off-licences) and childcare sectors will pay no rates for the full financial year up until 31 March 2021 How to access ? Automatic – no application required
COVID-19 Childcare Support Scheme
Financial assistance for eligible childcare providers – registers day-care settings, school age childcare settings and childminders that remain open for vulnerable children and those of key workers and day-care and school age childcare settings which remain closed and are unable to reopen. How to access ? You must apply – details of the scheme and guidance on ‘How to apply’
NI Micro-business Hardship Fund
Fund to helps Northern Ireland based micro-businesses and social enterprises unable to access other regional and national COVID-19 support measures. How to access ? You must apply – details of the scheme and guidance on ‘How to apply’
Organisations Emergency Programme
Up to £25,000 funding support to small and medium-sized arts organisations to develop new projects or programmes and/or re-arrange events which have had to be cancelled during the COVID-19 period. How to access ? You must apply – details of the scheme and guidance on ‘How to apply’
Further information and support can also be found at the below:
- The LCCC COVID-19 Helpline for Lisburn businesses: 07715 269688 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)
- The HMRC Helpline: 08000 241222 (Mon-Fri 8am-4pm)
- Extended Furlough scheme (until October)
- For the full range of measures announced by the NI Executive go here
- For the full range of UK Government measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and help with sick pay. There is also a dedicated UK Government business support website which can be found here,
- For support which is available via the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, including how to apply for their Mentor Growth please go here
- In May 2020, the UK Government announced that everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with Covid-19 symptoms can now get a test. Details of how to access testing in Northern Ireland can be found here.
- The UK Government has also updated their guidance on holiday entitlement and pay during lockdown – please see here for more details.
- Information on the £15M Charity Support Fund.
Please keep checking all these links regularly as they are frequently updated as new measures and arrangements are announced.
What the Chamber is Doing on Your Behalf
At a local level:
- We frequently speak with the Council’s Economic Development team and are in daily contact with key stakeholders across the city, to be able to inform you of any significant actions that will affect you.
- We are speaking to as many of our members as possible to capture the impact this is having on their businesses. We are working hard to ensure the right support is available and can be accessed as soon as possible. This support is time critical for many businesses.
At a Northern Ireland Executive level:
- Through our engagement with Northern Ireland Chambers of Commerce, we have regular direct links to the most senior levels of Government who have requested updates on how businesses are being impacted. We are continuing our dialogue with them to close gaps in support provision where possible, and to ensure their economic re-start and recovery plans meet the needs of businesses across our membership and beyond.
At a UK Government level:
- As part of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) network, we can feed information and concerns from members directly into UK Government. Our priority is to ensure that businesses get clear, actionable information at speed to take critical decisions – and that government acts on the pressing needs of our business communities.
- Since the start of the crisis, BCC has been in constant contact with Downing Street, with senior Cabinet Ministers, with the Governor of the Bank of England, and with the banking industry. They are in the room, at the table, and we are making it clear that businesses and their employees need ongoing support.
- BCC, working with other big business support groups such as the CBI, IoD, FSB and others have been instrumental in securing many of the measures already announced such as the CJRS, CBILS and business rate/VAT/Tax concessions and deferrals.
How the Chamber is Working
In line with Government guidelines, the Chamber team are now working remotely, however we remain fully available and will continue to work with our members and key stakeholders and can be reached via telephone and email as usual.
Events: We postponed our scheduled events from April to July and are monitoring advice closely to see if our August and September events can proceed within social distancing guidelines. Members will be kept updated.
Marketing & Communications: Our marketing services continue to operate as usual, so members can submit content to us for sharing on our channels. Please send content to email@example.com
How You Can Engage
- The Chamber has an active City Centre Businesses WhatsApp group for immediate discussion and feedback amongst fellow Lisburn based businesses. To join please email your mobile number to the Chamber office
- Please feedback any relevant issues affecting your business to our Chamber office and we will ensure these are fed back to the NI Executive. They are especially keen to hear any suggestions you might have as to how businesses can be better supported, or if there are issues with accessing measures they have already announced/introduced.
- If you are a manufacturing business who can re-purpose any of your operations at this time to support the national effort, such as making ventilators or PPE equipment, please do get in touch.
- If you have access to PPE equipment which can re-deployed to frontline staff, please get in touch.
- If you are a hotel or venue who might be able to re-purpose your premises to support the national effort if it is needed, such as by hosting key workers, please get in touch.
- If you are exporting, please highlight any issues you are facing with moving goods across borders.
- And finally, please share your good news stories with us – we know many of our members have been selflessly offering support and help to others at this time – please help us get these much needed positive stories out there.
Everyone at the Lisburn Chamber is determined to provide support for our members and ensure we are at the heart of the Province’s resilience during these current difficult times.
Please stay safe and keep in touch with us so can we help in any way we can.