Families here will get £ 200 in the New Year after the CEO’s Covid relief funding package brought in a £ 95 million voucher scheme to help our main streets.
Email workers will drink an early Christmas gift, and while the details are finalized, Finance Minister Connor Murphy said it is estimated to come in at £ 200 per family.
Separately, there are more than £ 200m in support going to businesses facing the crippling impact of coronavirus restrictions – although one boss warned that express delivery would be as critical as the support itself.
Business leaders, whose livelihoods have been cut off by the pandemic but failed to qualify for other support, said they were relieved after being told they would get 20 million pounds of the total package of 300 million pounds announced on Monday.
These entrepreneurs had called themselves the “NI unlikely” after they were ineligible for assistance such as the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
There is also assistance for the vulnerable, with the disabled receiving higher disability benefits and the elderly taking a retirement credit to receive a one-time heating payment of £ 200 as part of the £ 44.3m package.
Details of the voucher scheme have yet to be confirmed and whether it will be subject to rules blocking spending with grocery giants like Tesco.
The Economy Ministry, which will manage the scheme, said Monday night: “The delivery of the High Street Stimulus scheme at the NI level will help people shop locally and visit local retailers, putting much-needed revenue directly into local businesses.
“The Ministry of Economy is currently developing the scheme, including the amount of the voucher and how it will be delivered.
“Running a scheme of this size and nature is incredibly complex and officials are working hard to develop its standards. It is expected that the scheme will” start “in the new year and will be subject to public health guidelines.
A £ 55million extension of the Local Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS) has also been offered to non-core retail, leisure and entertainment businesses that will have to close from Friday under the new two-week lockdown.
There’s also £ 20m for a 12-month price permit extension for the manufacturing sector, £ 10.6m for 1,000 wet bars and £ 5m for tourism and hospitality scheme packing up, among other provisions. The Finance Ministry said nearly £ 19 million has already been disbursed to 5,043 companies under LRSS. About 1,230 applications were considered ineligible.
In total, 12,000 requests have been received, with management saying staff are “working hard to process all requests as quickly as possible”.
Odehan Connolly, Director of NI Retail Consortium, said: “The £ 95 million that will be awarded to families to spend on Main Street is particularly welcome because it creates a strong circle of spending that will support retailers in the less difficult months of January and February as well as Being of great benefit to families whose budgets have already been cut. This will make a tangible difference to the main streets, livelihoods and lives. “
“NI’s hospitality and business companies have been asking for additional assistance for some time,” said Angela McGowan, CBI Director, Northern Ireland.
“Targeted support that helps both families and businesses in the lead up to Christmas will cut in part in cushioning what has been a very difficult year.
“Fast delivery will be as important as the financial support itself.”
Warrenpoint’s Jacqueline Stewart said she has had nothing to live in since she stopped her health food business, which usually delivers up to 3,000 doses of wheatgrass juice across the UK and Europe, in March.
“I am over the moon. Since March, I have been living on savings, living on money earmarked for tax payments and on aid from families. All of us who have been left out have been eating things that we wouldn’t normally eat – living on beans and toast is not easy.
“Now knowing that the money has been set aside removes some of the uncertainty. But the devil will be in the details.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy continues to process requests for the Covid Restrictions Business Support System, which was set up to support companies that were forced to close due to restrictions imposed from October 16 but not covered by the Finance Ministry’s scheme.
Support declared by the Executive includes:
- £ 150 million in price relief for sectors hardest hit by the pandemic – retail, hospitality, tourism, entertainment, childcare and airports.
- The £ 95 million High Street voucher system gives people a prepaid card to use on Main Street.
- £ 20m for corporate directors, a group excluded from previous support.
- £ 10.6m for wet bars.
- £ 5 million to fill out the Tourism and Hospitality Scheme.
- £ 4.1 million for bed and breakfast.
- £ 44.3m to enable a one-off heating payment of £ 200 for disabled people earning higher benefits and seniors receiving a retirement credit
- £ 10m to support councils and sports.
- £ 20.6m for the Education Department which includes food grants for families of young people entitled to free school meals.
- £ 1.2m out of £ 10m have been allocated to support airports to further support the Derry Airport City.
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