The voice for Social Enterprises & Social Entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. Connecting, supporting, developing and sustaining vibrant businesses to create social change.


Question Raised to Economy Minster on 24/03/20

Social Enterprise NI was delighted to hear North Antrim Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan Raise a question during the Minster for Economy Question Time in the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday 24 March 2020. Please see below Mr McGuigan's Question and Minster Dodds answer. Thank you to Mr McGuigan for raising this question on behalf of our Sector and our Members. We feel this in important clarifaction of help available to our sector.

*Mr McGuigan: I welcome the statement from the Minister and the ongoing work in her Department. I also welcome her clarification on some of the announcements that have already been made regarding the small grants and the furlough payments that have allowed workers to remain at home secure in the knowledge that they will be seen through these times. I note that you mentioned that there is ongoing work with regard to those on zero-hours contracts and those who are self-employed. Time is of the urgency with those discussions. This is a financial crisis that we are discussing here today, but there is a worldwide pandemic, and financial decisions that are slow are having a big impact on people's lives. We are told that this week is the week where COVID-19 will spread quickly among us, and there are people who are at work today who should not be at work today. They are at work today because they are scared and the Government have not taken a decision with regard to their financial security through this process. I urge you to move quickly on some of these things, and I urge for greater clarification on what are considered essential and non-essential workers. Again, there are workers today who are at work and who should not be at work. My question, which I am getting to now, is in relation to any support that could or should be put in place for businesses that are operating as social enterprises or under charitable status.


*Mrs Dodds: To answer that last point, social enterprises are businesses that operate for profit but return that profit to the causes that are dear to them. There are many really good examples of that in Northern Ireland, and the social enterprise sector is buzzing with good things happening in Northern Ireland. Those businesses will be able to avail themselves of exactly the same schemes on the same basis as every other business, private or public. It is exactly the same.

My understanding is that, if you are on a zero-hours contract, you still are within the PAYE scheme. Therefore, you should be able to avail yourself of support as well, with a rounding up of the number of hours that you have worked

*Please note this is from the Offical Hansard Recording