More than £600m of cash has now been allocated to help tackle the coronavirus crisis across Northern Ireland.
So far, £634.8m has been outlined across a range of areas, notably to assist in securing PPE for workers and helping businesses.
The Executive has now agreed a further £300m to tackle the crisis, bringing the total budget close to £1bn.
A breakdown of the £634.8 million already allocated is as follows:
Department for Communities – discretionary support - £5m.
Department for Economy – Small Business Grant (£10,000 for business eligible for Small Business Rate Relief) – benefiting 27,000 businesses - £270. Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant (£25,000 for business with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000) – £100m.
Department of Education – Direct payment to families of 97,000 children who are entitled to free school meals – £18.9m
Department of Finance – business rates holiday (three months) – £99m.
Department of Health – Includes but not restricted to: mobilising the health and social care response, including additional staffing, ramping up of testing, and securing essential personal protection and other equipment; and providing much needed support for primary and community care sectors and suspension of car parking charges for staff – £140m.
Department of Justice – Additional resources have been provided to the Prison Service to meet the challenges due to COVID-19 – £1.9m
Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, say the allocations “will help ensure our health service receives the funding it needs, protect vulnerable people, and support business”.
“£150m has been set aside to purchase Personal Protection Equipment for healthcare workers and other frontline workers.
“A further £65m has been allocated to the Department of Health to help the fight against Covid-19.
“£15.3m has been provided to support the most vulnerable in society. This funds a weekly food box service for over 10,000 people, grants for older people, support for the homeless. The Executive has agreed an additional £10m for further interventions to support vulnerable members of our society.
“£12m has been provided for Emergency Childcare provision for key workers. Plus an additional £400,000 to enable the Youth Service to support the Department for Communities to provide food for vulnerable young people.
“£4m has also been allocated to the PSNI to maintain critical services during Covid-19.
“I am keen that further support is targeted at businesses and workers that have fallen through the gaps in the initiatives announced so far. That is why the Executive has agreed to hold aside an additional £40m for business support interventions.”
“Protecting lives and livelihoods is the Executive’s number one priority.
“In addition to the Covid-19 funding, Departments will be reviewing their own budgets to ensure everything possible is done to support our health service, vulnerable people, and businesses during this crisis.”