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Bulk of £790m Covid cash to go to health service


Finance Minister Conor Murphy (Sinn Fein/PA)

Finance Minister Conor Murphy (Sinn Fein/PA)

Finance Minister Conor Murphy (Sinn Fein/PA)

A raft of funding announcements were made yesterday after Finance Minister Conor Murphy released a £790m package to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The health service will receive the bulk of the support, with the Department of Health allocated £566m.

The overall package was financed by Covid-19 funding (£687m), but over £100m is part of the October monitoring round.

Almost £64m was allocated to the Department of Education to help schools manage Education Authority and virus pressures, as well as provide free school meals.

The Department for Communities received £15m to help the sports sector deal with the impact of the virus.

Health Minister Robin Swann instructed the five health trusts to put in place free car parking for health and social care staff until March 31 next year, with immediate effect.

This follows on from the free parking that was provided from April to June.

Mr Murphy said the new health service funding would help enhance the test, trace and isolate system.

Welcoming the support, Mr Swann said: "The funding will enable us to augment still further our stocks of personal protective equipment, facilitate safe storage, continue with enhancements to our test, trace and isolate system and provide funding for our ongoing response to this pandemic, such as the completion of the second Nightingale Hospital at Whiteabbey.

"It also allows me to move forward immediately with the provision of free car parking to health and social care staff until March 31, 2021.

"A further allocation of £7.3m provided to my department for hospices and for the Cancer Fund for Children will help support the important services that they provide, given the impact of Covid-19 on their fundraising activities."

Other allocations of the Covid-19 funding include £15m for local councils, £10m for Department for Infrastructure lost income, £3.1m for Executive communications and £2.8m for further education.

In terms of the October monitoring round, through which unspent funding was reallocated, the biggest beneficiary was the Co-Ownership housing scheme, which is to receive £39.3m.

Of the remainder, £30m will go to the Northern Ireland Investment Fund, £6.3m to other health service pressures and £5.6m to cover PSNI Brexit costs.

Some £4.1m will be for Assembly Members' staff costs, £2.2m for 'financial transactions capitalised interests' and £2m for roadworks and street lighting.

Another £1.6m will go to the Belfast transport hub project, £1m to schools maintenance and the remaining £300,000 will go to the Social Investment Fund.

Belfast Telegraph