Across all sectors of the NI economy, uptake of the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) was the lowest among the agricultural industry.
New figures from HMRC indicate that 17% of businesses in the “agriculture, forestry and fishing” sector applied for the grant support in the fourth tranche of the scheme.
That compares to an average take-up rate of 45% among all self-employed businesses in NI.
Uptake was the highest in the “transportation and storage” sector, with 66% of eligible businesses making claims.
In the first tranche, 78% of businesses in the sector applied, with 65% applying in the second tranche and 42% of businesses made claims for the third grant
The fourth tranche of SEISS covered the three-month period to the end of April 2021 and provided a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits.
HMRC figures show that uptake of SEISS fell among the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors during each tranche of the grant scheme.
In the first tranche, 78% of businesses in the sector applied, with 65% applying in the second tranche and 42% of businesses made claims for the third grant.
Assuming the largest share of claims within this sector came from agriculture, the trend reflects improved producer prices over the past 12 months, which made it harder for most farmers to justify applying for COVID-19 support.
However, there was a very different outlook for NI farmers in the early stages of the pandemic, particularly in May 2020 when the first SEISS grant opened for applications.
Back then, marts were closed, producer prices were under pressure across farming sectors and there were major concerns that COVID-19 outbreaks in factories could severely disrupt the food supply chain.
In the first tranche of SEISS, there were 10,300 claims from the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector worth £3,000 on average.
By the fourth tranche, the number of claimants had dropped to 2,200, with an average payment of £2,600.
If turnover is down by more than 30% when compared to the previous year, then a grant worth 80% of average monthly profits will be available
A fifth tranche of SEISS is due to open for applications in July 2021 and will cover the three-month period to the end of September 2021. This tranche is set to be different, as grant rates will depend on turnover in the period from April 2020 to April 2021.
If turnover is down by more than 30% when compared to the previous year, then a grant worth 80% of average monthly profits will be available.
This reduces to a grant worth 30% of profits if turnover fell by less than 30%.