The Northern Ireland Executive has told the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it would like to see an extension of the furlough wages subsidy, created as a response to the pandemic.
The Chancellor has said that he and the UK Government are very reluctant to simply extend a scheme that, in terms of fiscal impact, is adding an exceptionally large amount to the UK borrowing requirement.
The furlough scheme, initially paying up to 80% of employee's normal earnings, was unique.
As a defensive response to the pandemic it was an impressive and effective response to an unexpected crisis.
In the context of normal UK budgetary policies, the cost was well above any other recent emergency form of financial support to the economy.
For some professional observers, there were initial doubts about the size of the cost.
For the future, Governments will face the decisions on how and when (if ever) the large increase in Government debt can be repaid.
In a time of exceptional emergency, today's Government has passed a bill to succeeding generations.
Voters will remember, when the-then Government faced budget cuts in a time of austerity, the defence of the cuts was, in easy language, that there is "no money tree".
That defence, sincerely meant at the time, now seems misplaced. The needs of an exceptional crisis have been met by drawing down huge amounts from today's money tree: Government borrowing to finance the furlough scheme and the Covid-19 spending has taken public sector finances off the scale for a peace-time economy.
The request to extend the furlough scheme attracts two overlapping objections. First, the Government cannot reasonably go further continuously, in an open ended process, to borrow more funds from the financial markets.
Second, the furlough scheme supports the incomes of people to allow them to do nothing. Both of these arguments are unsatisfactory.
If the UK Government pushes its demands to borrow funds too far, then the risk is that the financial markets would begin to doubt the credibility of the UK finances and, as an initial response, interest rates would begin to rise and, going further, the UK might lose credibility as a stable financial base.
The second objection is well founded. The UK government (and the devolved administrations) should have a higher priority for the support of people gaining employment than for a scheme that provides funding to people based on a statement that they have no real job to do.
Funding to encourage people back into employment is to be preferred.
Those objections are easily understood but not if a person is sitting outside their normal place of work but the business simply has no commercial workload to offer.
The Chancellor has tried to soften the strain of phasing out the furlough payments.
Gradually, in October and November, the original employer is being told that they must pay an increased proportion of the costs, initially another 10%. Employers were told of this formula right from the outset.
The incentive is there for businesses to rebuild their order books and get back to normal market conditions.
In turn, the Kick Start scheme and similar new employment schemes can form a more enduring response.
The injection of support funding for the completion of apprenticeships also complements the shift to seeking new jobs. In the search for a market led economic recovery, there remain questions for the local Executive.
The Chancellor has a critical role in harnessing UK wide responses. That, however, still leaves room for local initiatives by the devolved institutions. Stormont Ministers have been allocated a much larger Stormont budget.
There are critical questions to be asked about the use of Stormont discretion in job creation, whether in capital projects or other community support projects. The Minister for the Economy has launched two small but useful schemes.
Northern Ireland needs well targeted policies to rebuild the economy; both UK wide and local.
Do Executive Ministers have a supportive agenda ready for delivery?