Government will not be found wanting in Covid-19 response, says NI Secretary

The British Government will not be found wanting in supporting the people and business community of Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State has said.

Brandon Lewis said protecting people was at the heart of the Government’s strategy to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.

He said: “While we cannot guarantee that no-one will suffer hardship, we will do our utmost to support individuals, families and businesses.”

Northern Ireland will receive over £900 million as part of an initial package of measures detailed by the Chancellor to support its response to the outbreak.

Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month, while businesses are shut down.

The Government is also deferring VAT payments and increasing an interest-free loan period to 12 months.

Measures outlined by Stormont’s devolved ministerial Executive include a small business grant to support 27,000 businesses and a grant scheme for firms in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors.

Mr Lewis said: “This must be a collective national effort, across the length and breadth of the country, and all four nations that make up our United Kingdom.

“As a Government, we promise to work hand in glove with the Executive, the Irish Government and business leaders to guarantee comprehensive and coordinated measures are in place to protect our families and communities.

“As the Prime Minister has said the invisible enemy we face may be deadly, but it is beatable.

“We will not be found wanting when it comes to providing support to the people and business community of Northern Ireland.”