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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today announced an amendment to the criteria for the Newly Self-Employed Support Scheme (NSESS) and an extension to the closing date.

The NSESS which opened on 3 December was due to close today. The closing date has now been extended to Friday 5 February to allow applicants the opportunity to include evidence from their 2019/20 HMRC tax return.

The NSESS provides financial support to newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) whose business has been 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.

Newly self-employed individuals (sole traders and those in partnerships) are 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.

Under the previous criteria over 50% of their income in 2019/20 must have been from self-employment. This has been amended to allow those who commenced self-employment later in the financial year to qualify for support. If you can demonstrate that you moved from paid employment (PAYE) to self-employment during 2019/20 your income from the previous employment will not be taken into account.

The rest of the eligibility criteria remains unchanged.

The Minister said: “It is important that this scheme covers as many self-employed as the budget will allow. These grants will help hundreds of businesses across Northern Ireland and I am confident that the revised closing date and change to the criteria will allow many more newly self-employed to avail of much needed support at this difficult time.”

Invest Northern Ireland is delivering the scheme on behalf of the Department for the Economy.