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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today announced a new Covid-19 support scheme for the newly self-employed.

The total budget allocated for the scheme is £10million. The Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS) will open at 6pm today.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to be able to announce this new support scheme which will help thousands more businesses in need across Northern Ireland.

“It will provide financial support to newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) whose business is adversely impacted by Covid and who have not been able to access support from the UK government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.”

A one-off taxable grant of £3,500 will be provided. This will enable support to be provided to approximately 2,900 newly self-employed individuals.

Newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) will be eligible for the NSESS if they commenced trading as self-employed between 6 April 2019 and 5 April 2020 and their business has been adversely impacted by Covid-19.

Their trading profits for 2019/20 must be below £50,000 and over 50% of their income must be from self-employment.

Invest Northern Ireland will deliver the scheme on behalf of the Department for the Economy.

The scheme will close to applications at 6pm on 7 January 2021.

At scheme closure any underspend will be considered and a top-up grant may be paid to eligible applicants.

The Minister will present a scheme for limited company directors to the Executive and, subject to their approval, more details will be provided as soon as possible.