THE Northern Ireland Executive has agreed further allocations of almost £300million to tackle COVID-19.
This in addition to the £634.8 million already allocated bringing the total funding for the emergency COVID-19 response to £933 million.
Announcing the allocations, Minister Murphy said: “These allocations will help ensure our health service receives the funding it needs, protect vulnerable people, and support business.
“£150 million has been set aside to purchase Personal Protection Equipment for healthcare workers and other frontline workers.
“A further £65 million has been allocated to the Department of Health to help the fight against Covid-19.
“£15.3 million 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 £10 million for further interventions to support vulnerable members of our society.
“£12 million has been provided for Emergency Childcare provision for key workers. Plus an additional £0.4 million to enable the Youth Service to support the Department for Communities to provide food for vulnerable young people.
“£4 million has also been allocated to the PSNI to maintain critical services during Covid-19.”
On support for businesses and workers the Executive allocated £1.5 million to support the fishing industry. Mr Murphy added: “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 £40 million for business support interventions.”
Conor Murphy added: “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.”
A breakdown of the £634.8 million already allocated is as follows:
Department for Communities – Discretionary Support - £5 million.
Department for Economy – Small Business Grant (£10k for business eligible for Small Business Rate Relief) – benefiting 27,000 businesses - £270 million. Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Sectors Grant (£25k for business with a rateable value between £15k and £51k) - £100 million.
Department of Education – Direct payment to families of 97,000 children who are entitled to free school meals – £18.9 million
Department of Finance – Business Rates Holiday (3 months) – £99 million.
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 – £140 million.
Department of Justice – Additional resources have been provided to the Prison Service to meet the challenges due to COVID-19 – £1.9 million.