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25 August 2016

Small Business Matters August 2016

Welcome to the August edition of Small Business Matters, your Regional Newsletter. 

We hope you find this newsletter both interesting and informative, and encourage you to share details of activities and events that might be of interest to other members.

You can contact the Northern Ireland Development Manager, Mairaid McMahon, via email to or on 07917 628 994, or our Regional Office Administrator, Fiona Quinn, via email to or on 028 8676 9023. Don’t forget you can also keep up to date by following us on twitter @FSBNIRegion.
John Friel
FSB Northern Ireland Regional Chair

To view a PDF version of this story, please click this link.

Bank branch closures: have your say 

South East Branch Chair, Aubrene Willis, would like to invite members from across Northern Ireland to attend their next Branch meeting, due to be held on Thursday 1 September at 7.30pm in Craigavon Civic Centre. The meeting has been convened as an opportunity for local members to have their say on the impact of bank branch closures on their business, which will be used to inform FSB’s UK-wide lobbying efforts on this issue. For an example of a recent successful campaign, check out our latest news on quarterly tax reporting

To register your interest in participating in the discussions at this meeting, please email

Back in Business Rate Support - Are You Eligible?

Land & Property Services (LPS) is encouraging eligible business rate payers to apply for the Back in Business Rate Support Scheme before it expires in March 2017. 

The scheme offers a 50% rate reduction for up to a year once a retail premises, which has been empty for 12 months or more, becomes occupied. Bringing these long term empty premises back into use will also help to regenerate our high streets and core shopping areas.

The Back in Business initiative has already awarded over £2.4million of support to Businesses throughout Northern Ireland. You can apply for the Scheme if you think your property meets the criteria.

You can find out more and apply for the award by visiting the NI Business Info website by clicking here.

Enniskillen BID – coming soon!

After almost of year of working with the business community in Enniskillen the BID ballot is almost here in the county town of Fermanagh! 

The Ballot papers will be dispatched from Electoral Reform Services (ERS) on the official opening day – 1 September.  All eligible businesses within the Enniskillen BID area, 500 in total, will receive a Ballot paper from ERS asking them to simply vote YES or NO to the proposals put forward by the Enniskillen BID team. The Ballot will remain open until 5pm on 13 October and we urge all businesses to use their vote so that they can have a say in their own future.

If Enniskillen’s BID ballot returns a yes vote, it promises investment of over £1.2 million over the next 5 years. The BID will be dedicated to delivering projects, programmes and services to businesses in Enniskillen. The 3 key priorities will be to BOOST the local business community, to ENTICE Customers into the town and increase the numbers of people who visit and to ENHANCE the experience that those who choose to visit have in the town.  The Enniskillen BID Business Plan sets out the projects that will be delivered if the businesses decide to vote YES.  The Business Plan can be downloaded via or you can email or contact Noelle on 07872 424 246.  

One of the businesses located in the BID area is the office of the First Minister of Northern Ireland on East Bridge Street.  Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA stated: "BID is a huge opportunity for business in Enniskillen to grow the economic output of our town. I fully support the vision of BID to create a more attractive town to the benefit of local businesses, staff and the wider general public. It is vital to have a strategic and co-ordinated approach and this is fully outlined in the business plan." The BID result will be declared on 14 October 2016.

Revitalising Town Centres – what do you think?

The Department for Communities are conducting a need and demand assessment for a potential revitalised ‘Living over the Shops’ (LOTS)/Town Centre Living Initiative Area (TCLIA) scheme.  This scheme may enable funding to be made available for the refurbishment or renovation of derelict/vacant commercial properties, to provide residential properties suitable for the private rented sector and/or owner occupation. The aim of the scheme would be to improve housing supply and quality within the local market. They are keen to hear from FSB members who have views on the following questions:

  • Do you view town centre living as an important component of economic growth and regeneration?
  • If you are currently utilising a ground floor unit with a vacant or underutilised space above the unit, would you welcome residential activity, and for what reasons?
  • What effects might a Living over the Shops or Town Centre Living Initiative scheme have upon your business and the surrounding area?
  • What (if any) are the barriers that you would see in providing residential accommodation above vacant or underutilised retail or office units?

To feed your views into this consultation process, please email


Members will be notified of the venues for each AGM by mail, three weeks before the meeting, together with details of nominations received and the Agenda.   AGM venues will be listed on the FSB NI website:

HMRC Consultation – Making Tax Digital

HMRC has launched six Making Tax Digital (MTD) consultation documents

The MTD Roadmap, published in December 2015, set out the government’s plans to deliver a fully digital tax service by 2020. HMRC recognise that these reforms are ambitious and radical and there is a lot to design and develop before 2020.  It’s important that they consult widely with interested parties to help shape these changes.

About the consultations

The six consultations set out detailed plans on how we propose to make tax digital and to simplify the tax system, covering:

  • how digital record keeping and regular updates will operate; 
  • options to simplify tax for unincorporated businesses, including how the self-employed map accounting periods onto the tax year, extending cash basis accounting and reducing reporting requirements for unincorporated businesses; 
  • extending cash basis accounting to unincorporated property businesses, making life simpler for landlords; 
  • how the voluntary pay as you go arrangements announced at this year’s Budget will work;
  • changes to tax administration to effectively underpin compliance with MTD and ensure we have a fair and proportionate penalties regime; and
  • how HMRC will make better use of the information we currently receive from third parties to provide a more transparent service for customers.

Each consultation focuses on specific elements of the MTD reforms.

The consultation period will run from 9.30am Monday 15 August to midnight Monday 7 November 2016. 

Funding and Support

Free Workplace Health and Wellbeing Support Service

Could your workplace benefit from FREE Health & Wellbeing Support?

Due to an exciting new government funded initiative (supported by the Public Health Agency) Health Matters (Health & Safety) Ltd can provide your business with a free health & wellbeing support service for 1 year.
The service aims to mentor and support businesses through a structured 4 stage process with the ultimate aim of improving the health & wellbeing of the workforce.

What free services are available?

  • Mentoring and support from an experienced Workplace Health & Wellbeing Coordinator
  • A health & wellbeing survey which identifies employee health & wellbeing needs
  • An automated report detailing current workplace health & wellbeing needs for employers and personal health profiles for employees
  • Provision of resources such as action plan templates, guides, questionnaires and literature
  • Health & wellbeing talks/services delivered by our specialist coordinators for all of your staff
  • Health Champion training for an individual or multiple individuals within your business to act as health ambassadors.
  • Award ceremony in recognition of workplace health & wellbeing success

What benefits can you expect from a successful programme…

  • Improved employee morale
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduction in staff turnover
  • Reduction in illness-related absence
  • Increased quality of products and services
  • Improved corporate social responsibility
  • Improved public image (This can also be used as an excellent PR opportunity)

Spaces on this funded programme are still available and are filling up quickly.  Click here for more information and to download an application form. Send completed forms to Email:

Local Government News

Belfast City Council: Revitalise Programme   

Are you a local independent retailer based in Belfast? Would you like to develop and enhance your business skills? Then the Revitalise programme could be for you.

Belfast City Council have partnered with some of the top high street brands, including Boots UK, EE, Marks and Spencer and Santander, to bring you Revitalise, a programme tailored specifically for independent retailers.

Revitalise is free for all participants. You must be an independent retailer based in the Belfast City Council area and employ 20 people or less to be eligible to apply.


As part of the Revitalise programme, a variety of masterclasses will be provided to help enhance your skills in the areas of:

  • financial planning
  • visual merchandising, and
  • delivering great customer service.

Spaces are limited and booking is essential.

Dates and times of upcoming Masterclasses:

Visual merchandising & display. Tuesday 4 October 2016, 9.30am – 1.30pm. Delivered by Marks and Spencer. Register here for this masterclass.

Delivering great customer service. Wednesday 26 October, 9.30am – 1.30pm. Delivered by Boots UK and EE. Register here for this masterclass.


Through this programme you can also access free, retail-specific, one-to-one mentoring from a range of experts to help you with:

  • financial management and business planning
  • visual merchandising, window display and shop space design
  • PR, marketing, sales and branding
  • retail e-commerce development.

To express your interest in the Revitalise Mentoring programme please email or call the team on 028 9047 0482.

How do I apply?

To find out more, and to check eligibility, telephone 028 9027 0482 or email  You can register your interest for any part of the Revitalise programme and booking is essential.

Energy Awareness Breakfast:

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

Energy costs present a major challenge for business sustainability, growth and competitiveness. In a bid to support the local economy, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has partnered with Manufacturing NI to host the Energy Awareness Breakfast. This event will held at the Civic and Conference Centre, Craigavon on Thursday 15 September 2016 commencing at 8.00am.

The event will bring together representatives from various organisations and schemes to provide information on the financial, technical and advisory supports available to enable your business to become more energy efficient and reduce costs. Get the chance to speak one to one with advisors from a range of programmes and schemes to help you to commence accessing support, and hear first-hand from local businesses who have adopted innovative practices and accessed supports to successfully drive down costs and improved their competitiveness. 

Can your business afford to miss it? Register here for this free event.

North Down Business Awards 2016

Applications are now open for the 16th Annual local Business Awards. 

The Gala Awards night will take place on Friday 14 October in The Clandeboye Lodge Hotel.  The awards are a vital part of the local business calendar and provide a real incentive for local businesses, with many going on to win an award and be recognised for their commitment to growth, investment, customer service best practice and high standards.

The awards are FREE to enter and all entries must be submitted online. Entries must be submitted before the closing date of Tuesday 30 August 2016.  For more information on the awards and to enter, click here.

Poor Internet Connection? Boost Your Broadband Connection Now!

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is working with Avanti Communications to promote a subsidised broadband connection scheme across County Antrim, aimed at improving broadband speeds for rural areas, or in areas of poor connectivity.

The ‘Rural Superfast Broadband Scheme’ is available to homes and businesses, as well as community and voluntary organisations, based within the Borough, with slow or no broadband. Less than 300 subsidised installation packages remain available to locally eligible addresses, so act now to avoid disappointment! The deadline for registration has been extended for a final time until November 2016.

To experience the type of broadband connection that can be achieved locally, interested parties are encouraged to visit the trial Wi-Fi points in Crumlin and Sixmile Leisure Centres, as soon as possible

For further information and to check your eligibility please visit or contact one of the following registered broadband service providers directly: Europasat - 0808 252 0228 or Avonline Broadband - 0808 301 5366

Dates for your diary

Area: Northern Ireland wide                      
Date: 14 September 2016
Time: 09.00 – 16.00
Venue: Invest NI - Bedford Street, Belfast, BT2 7ES

Detail: Invest NI Family Business Workshop

This free workshop is for owners and managers of trading family businesses. At this event you will hear how to ensure your business makes it through to the next generation successfully.

The workshop will help you:

  • Explore the unique issues encountered in a family business
  • Identify and manage the connections between family and commercial life
  • Manage relationships between family and non-family members
  • Resolve conflicts and manage expectations
  • Plan for succession

At the end of the workshop you will be able to develop an action plan that will keep your business on a path to growth and understand the positive benefits as well as the difficulties of family involvement.

For more details please contact

Register here to secure your place at the workshop

Area: Northern Ireland wide                      
Date: 20 September 2016
Time: 08.00 – 11.00
Venue: Europa Hotel, Belfast

Detail: Intertrade Ireland Funding for Growth Workshop

InterTradeIreland is pleased to announce dates for our 2016 regional workshops and clinics aimed at encouraging companies seeking finance to do so in a strategic manner with well prepared business plans and to look and explore all finance options available to them.

These workshops will provide an overview to attendees on the suitable sources of finance for growth and enable them the opportunity to engage with relevant finance providers.  The workshops will also enable signposting of businesses to suitable sources of finance and provide an opportunity for attendees to apply for the one to one advisory service facility if they meet the eligibility criteria that applies.

Register here for this free workshop.

Area: Northern Ireland wide                      
Date: 22 September 2016                   
Time: 09.00 - 16.00
Venue: Ramada Plaza, Shaws Bridge, Belfast

Detail: Women In Business 8th Annual Business Conference

Women in Business is delighted to announce the 8th Annual WIB Conference & Exhibition - "The Future of Business"

The WIB Conference & Exhibition 2016 will provide delegates with the opportunity to hear from international and local speakers on 'The Future of Business'.

The all-day event will feature inspirational role models and speakers and a multi-activity programme designed to help, enable and empower you with the knowledge and skills to grow your business and develop your career. 

This year's Conference has been specially designed to help you grow, develop and achieve your ambitions regardless of what sector or size of business you are in. WIB look forward to welcoming sole traders, small businesses and corporate organisations to look globally and achieve your ambitions!

Cost: Early Bird £75 + VAT | Regular Rate £100 + VAT

Click here for more information on conference speakers and to make a booking.

NWHIC First Annual Conference

The Northwest Health Innovation Corridor’s (NWHIC) first annual conference will be held on Wednesday 28 September and Thursday 29 September 2016.  This conference will give you the opportunity to hear more about healthcare innovation, how others have approached innovation and have overcome challenges and barriers.  The speakers will cover why the health and social care sector needs innovative solutions and how health innovation can be everybody’s business.  This promises to be a valuable conference for businesses and innovators across all sectors, healthcare managers and practitioners, policy makers, academics, and public health bodies.

Limited places are available in the Product and Service Showcase which will be held on Thursday 29 September.  The Product and Service Showcase will demonstrate collaboration and innovation in action, providing an exhibition space for companies, organisations and innovators to display their products, prototypes or services.

Please note that you don't need to have a fully-developed idea or one that has a physical presence, and in those cases your exhibit might be best presented as a poster.  Either way, help is available with formats for displays and template for posters will be provided.

If you're interested in one of the remaining Product and Service Showcase spaces, please contact Bridget at

Contact us 

Development Manager: Mairaid McMahon
Email: or telephone 07917 628 994

Regional Office Administrator: Fiona Quinn
Email: or telephone 028 8676 8923

Visit us on the web at: or on Twitter @FSBNIRegion

See how FSB have campaigned on this issue