Northern Ireland

Government pressed to ‘step up’ and provide additional funding after floods

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has been pressed to intervene and provide additional funding for those impacted by flooding in Northern Ireland in the absence of a Stormont Assembly and locally elected ministers (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has been pressed to intervene and provide additional funding for those impacted by flooding in Northern Ireland in the absence of a Stormont Assembly and locally elected ministers (Stefan Rousseau/PA) Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has been pressed to intervene and provide additional funding for those impacted by flooding in Northern Ireland in the absence of a Stormont Assembly and locally elected ministers (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The UK Government has been urged to “step up” and provide additional funding for those impacted by significant flooding in Northern Ireland.

Newry. Downpatrick and Portadown were badly impacted by flooding – while parts of Co Antrim also suffered.

While a scheme is open for support for residents, in the absence of a functioning Stormont Assembly and ministers, there is less available for businesses counting the costs.

Autumn weather November 1st 2023
Autumn weather November 1st 2023 A view of debris and flood water in Sugar Island in Newry Town, Co Down (Brian Lawless/PA)

The leaders of the five main political parties have written to the Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, urging him to immediately request additional resources from the Treasury for an emergency relief scheme for householders and businesses.

On Monday, Mr Heaton-Harris said the matter is one for the relevant Northern Ireland departments, and that the Northern Ireland Office continues “to engage with them and Northern Ireland’s parties on the communities impacted”.

He added: “We stand ready to support and provide assistance where possible.”

Northern Ireland Investment Summit 2023
Northern Ireland Investment Summit 2023 Chris Heaton-Harris has been asked to provide extra financial support (Liam McBurney/PA)

A DUP delegation met with Mr Heaton-Harris in London on Tuesday.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it was a positive meeting and he is “hopeful” that the Government will step up and provide “this much-needed additional funding”.

“We will continue to engage with local businesses and homeowners in all areas affected by this flooding in order to identify their needs in terms of recovery,” he said.

“We will also take forward our discussions with the relevant Northern Ireland departments to ensure that there is a coordinated approach in designing a scheme that will deliver this additional support for both businesses and households here as quickly as possible.”

DUP MP Carla Lockhart said there are scores of businesses who have been “pushed to the point of bankruptcy” by the recent flooding.

“Most of these are in retail but there are manufacturing, agri-food and farm businesses also hard hit. Such are the costs of reopening, some are considering just pulling the shutters down,” she said.

“Whilst homeowners will have their £1,000 emergency flood payment, this does not go far in restoring a home to its pre-flood condition or paying for alternative accommodation.

“It is vital that the UK Government steps in and provides the kind of assistance that is needed in our flood hit communities, similar to that offered in other parts of the UK.”

Earlier, Newry, Mourne and Down Council said the first batch of 67 support funding cheques are to be delivered on Tuesday – with a further 20 cheques to follow later this week.

She said the council’s Environmental Health Team has visited more than 100 businesses and received more than 200 requests for advice and support from residents following the flooding through the Scheme of Emergency Financial Assistance.

“Today, 67 cheques are due to be delivered to residents and around 20 further anticipated this week,” she said.

“The Department for Communities’ Finance Support service, for example, is also available for people who find themselves in a financial crisis, including those experiencing financial difficulty as a result of a disaster such as flooding.

“The service provides financial help/support through the provision of Discretionary Support, Social Fund and Universal Credit Contingency Fund.”