Northern Ireland is to receive £260m to support its response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Treasury has announced.
The UK Government is making £1.5bn available to the devolved administrations to help their efforts in tackling the impact of Covid-19.
Speaking on View From Stormont, Finance Minister Conor Murphy said he will discuss with his Executive colleagues on the best spending plan for the funding.
“Up until this afternoon it was £120m, now we’ve got an additional £140m, we want to put that together for a range of interventions obviously in the health areas, because this is about protecting people’s lives, but of course business support,” he said.
“Both myself and Diane [Dodds, Economy Minister] have been discussing various packages that need to be put together to try and assist businesses which are clearly going to be very much challenged and then across the full range of public services, to make sure that we can try and keep public services available to people who would be very much in need of them over the coming period, this is an enormous challenge, it’s one the Executive and governments across the world weren’t expecting.
“We’re glad to have some additional resource to try and tackle it and the Executive has to sit down, discuss where the priority needs for those resources are and to try and allocate them as best we can to try and meet the challenge ahead of us.”
Economy Minister Diane Dodds added: “There is a lot of agreement around the Executive table about the things that we need to tackle and the things that we need to do.
“In my particular department I have just written to Executive colleagues looking for stimulus package for the economy in general and in particular for the tourism and hospitality sectors.
“Tourism and hospitality contributes about £1bn to the economy every year and is responsible for about 60,000 jobs and it is in grave peril in the next number of weeks and months as we go through this process and we really need to urgently step in to help businesses survive and help them cope with the challenges ahead.”
She said after meeting representatives from various sectors, including banking, she said it was good to see that banks are willing to be flexible and work with their customers.
“We also don’t want to increase indebtedness right across the economy, so we will need a range of interventions and some of that will be around a rates holiday, others might be small grants, and even when we get past the mitigation phase, we will need a recovery package so that we have got really good messages going out after we get through this that Northern Ireland is open for business, that we want people to come and have their holidays with us and we want people to bring investment and jobs.”