Coronavirus: Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme

News article

NOTE: This scheme is now closed.

The Minister for the Economy launched a Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme to provide support to wet pubs, whose premises were required to close or cease trading during the period from 4 July to 22 September 2020.  

The Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme (WPBSS) was aimed at helping to keep companies in business and protect jobs, and to help prevent business closure and promote economic recovery.


I was unsuccessful in my application to the WPBSS. Can I appeal my decision?
Yes. Unsuccessful applicants have the right to a single appeal within two weeks of issue of the rejection notice. Instructions will be provided in the rejection notice. Please note that only those businesses identified by the Department as eligible for the scheme and whose applications have been submitted, processed and rejected will be given the right to appeal.

Eligibility Criteria

Who is eligible
Businesses meeting the following criteria will be eligible for the WPBSS:

  1. The business is named within the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.

  2. The business is eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme.
  3. The business was closed for at least one full week during the period 4 July to 22 September 2020. The applicant will be eligible to apply for the number of full weeks it was closed during this period.
  4. Wet pubs who have an attached off licence business are eligible for support if the wet pub element of their business was closed.  
  5. Businesses must have been actively trading before they were forced to close due to COVID-19 lockdown/restrictions. 

The following will be ineligible:

  1. Businesses who operated at a reduced capacity (for example those who had a beer garden).
  2. Businesses which have failed to comply with a prohibition notice under regulation 7 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020(b)) would not be eligible for support under the scheme.
  3. Businesses that are: 
    • dissolved or about to be dissolved, insolvent or for whom insolvency action had been instigated; or
    • dormant - ie not trading but not insolvent.

Application process

The application process is now closed.

Find further information on the application process in the Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme - frequently asked questions (PDF, 516K).

Data and privacy

You should note that your data will be shared and handled in line with the Department for the Economy’s Privacy Notice.

The Department reserves the right to publish the list of successful support scheme recipients. 

When completing the scheme’s supplementary information form, businesses will be asked to confirm they consent to their information being shared with other Government/public bodies for the purposes of fraud prevention and avoidance of misuse of public money.

Further information

The Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme - frequently asked questions (PDF, 516K) provide further information on the scheme and the verification process.  

If you have any queries about the Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme, please contact with as much information as possible relating to your request. Please be aware that the Department is dealing with large quantities of queries on COVID-19 support schemes and will respond to your query as quickly as possible.  

When will I receive my payment?

Please do not contact the scheme mailbox for payment timescale updates. Information provided via the scheme’s supplementary information form will be verified as quickly as possible and payments made as soon as the verification process is complete. If the Department for the Economy requires further information to validate your information, it will contact you by email so please monitor your email account regularly including the junk email folder.

Operation of the scheme by council, constituency and sector

The Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme (WPBSS) provided support to Wet Pubs whose premises were required to close or cease trading during the period 4 July to 22 September 2020. The scheme opened on 11 January 2021, and eligible businesses received a one off payment covering the full week(s) they were required to close during the 12 week closure period. The scheme has now closed to new applications. Late applications may be considered by exception in circumstances whereby an appeal for eligibility under the LRSS scheme administered by Land & Property Services (LPS) is upheld.

The Department for the Economy (DfE), in tandem with the Department of Finance’s (DoF) Land & Property Service, identified 861 potential eligible businesses within the ‘Wet Pubs’ industry that had previously been identified as eligible for DoF’s Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS). Initial checks were conducted by the DfE grants administration team to ascertain if pubs were trading or closed during the 12 week closure period. A ‘supplementary information form’ was then issued to each business identified via these pre-eligibility checks, asking businesses to declare if and for how long they were closed. Supporting evidence of closure was also requested. Once verified, valid claims were approved and forwarded to Account NI for formal payment.

715 supplementary forms were issued, with 585 valid applications returned. No forms were issued to 146 businesses that were identified as continuing to trade during the closure period or did not otherwise qualify for an LRSS payment. Applicants who failed to provide sufficient evidence were given several opportunities to respond, before issue of a final reminder. After the issue of reminders, 130 applications were considered closed after the deadline for a response to be received had passed.

422 applications totalling £3,899,200 were approved and paid through Account NI.

Further analysis in relation to operation of the scheme is accessible via the link below, including a facility to interrogate data by Local Government Authority or Parliamentary Constituency. This data is based on the final position as of Friday 26 March 2021.

Download the latest Wet Pubs Business Support Scheme analysis spreadsheet (XLSX, 27K).