Northern Ireland news

Finance minister asks colleagues to 'urgently bring forward bids' for unallocated UK funding

Finance Minister Conor Murphy. Picture by Hugh Russell

COVID-19 funding has made up the bulk of more than £290 million allocated by Finance Minister Conor Murphy to support businesses, education, tourism and transport in an announcement last night.

Mr Murphy said £216m Covid-19 funding and more than £75m January monitoring funding is being allocated at a time when "businesses continue to face immense challenges".

"These allocations include an additional £100m for my department's Localised Restrictions Support Scheme to ensure this can continue providing financial assistance to businesses.

Tourism and hospitality will share £16m support, with a further £20m additional funding for the Company Directors Scheme, introduced by the Department of the Economy "to address the gap in national support".

The Executive has also agreed to extend the 12 months rates holiday to local newspapers "which are a key part of the fabric of society".

Education receives £7.5m support for blended learning resources and childcare support.

However, despite all bids submitted by other departments being "met in full", some funding remains unallocated.

With no response from the UK Treasury to a request "to carry over Covid funding", Mr Murphy has "asked Executive colleagues to urgently bring forward proposals to support, in particular, those sectors or individuals that have so far not received financial assistance".

The minister said he is hoping to have them in time to allow the Executive to agree further allocations next week.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Diane Dodds has announced details of a new £26.1m support scheme for larger hospitality and tourism businesses affected by the pandemic.

The Large Tourism and Hospitality Business Support Scheme will give grants for "fixed costs and overheads associated with the survival of their businesses and the protection of jobs".

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