Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has announced a £300 million support package including over £200 million for businesses and £98 million of COVID-19 funding to support the most vulnerable.
Making the announcement, Conor Murphy said: “Our businesses are facing huge challenges and are under immense pressure.
“Today we’ve agreed a significant business support package worth £213 million.
“This includes £95 million for a High Street Voucher Scheme for a pre-paid card for use on the high street.
“£55 million to extend the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme to include non-essential retail, leisure, and entertainment businesses now forced to close.
“£20 million to support company directors who have been without support up until now.
“£20 million to extend the 12 month rate holiday to the manufacturing sector.
“£10.6 million to support 1,000 wet pubs which are experiencing additional financial hardship, £5 million to top-up the Tourism and Hospitality Scheme, £4.1 million for Bed and Breakfast which previously missed out on business support because they pay domestic rates and £3 million to help local businesses grow their online sales.”
The Minister continued: “In addition to this £213 million for business and recognising COVID will continue to be with us for the months to come, the Executive has also agreed to hold £150 million centrally for longer-term support on business rates. I hope to be able to provide an update on this in the very near future.”
The Executive today also agreed to provide £98 million to support education, councils, sport and protect the vulnerable. Outlining these allocations, Conor Murphy said: “£44.3 million is being provided to fund a one-off £200 heating payment for those with disabilities who are on higher disability benefits and older people in receipt of pension credit.
“£26.4 million is being allocated to support schools. This includes vital funding to ensure families of young people who are entitled to Free School Meals will receive food grants during school holidays.
“I am allocating a further £5 million to support charities through the rest of the financial year.
“As the Social Enterprise Support Fund was oversubscribed, a further £2.25m is now being provided to ensure grants can be paid to all eligible applicants.”
The Minister continued: “I am also making a further £10 million available to support sporting organisations, given the impact the restrictions are having on the sector, as well as an additional £10 million to local councils to ensure they can continue to deliver vital services.”
The Minister concluded: “The Executive does not underestimate the extreme pressures that our businesses and people are facing and this package signals our continued determination to support them.”
£27.5 million is also being allocated to the Department for Infrastructure to address the significant impact and loss of income COVID is having on the Department and its arm’s length bodies to ensure service delivery can be maintained.
Full details on the funding allocations are available in the Minister’s statement: https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/minister-finance-statement-northern-ireland-assembly-covid-19-funding-2020-21