£300m boost for Covid-19 recovery effort
More than £300 million of funding has been agreed to aid society’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The news came as ministers agreed another raft of relaxations to the Covid-19 rules, including the opening of indoor hospitality and a green list for international travel.
Finance Minister Conor Murphy said while restrictions are easing, the impact of the pandemic on society remain “profound”.
The measures include £96.1 million for business support schemes.
Almost £60 million will support the health service, including the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Speaking after a meeting of the Stormont Executive on Thursday, Mr Murphy said: “The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental wellbeing and I have provided funding for a number of mental health interventions.
“I’m also conscious that many people are experiencing long-term impacts from Covid. Funding has therefore been provided to support individuals managing the long-term health effects of Covid.
“Over £50 million is being allocated to support our children and young people’s education. This includes £20 million to provide laptops for teachers and voluntary youth services, £10 million for wellbeing and pastoral support for students, funding for Special Educational Needs services as well as support for the Irish Medium sector, outdoor education centres and outdoor play in primary schools.
“I am also providing £9 million for the Further Education Sector to ensure safe learning for students including through funding for Covid testing.”
Other allocations include £12 million to support older people returning to employment, £13 million to support recovery within the arts, cultural and heritage sector, £5 million to support charities and social enterprises, and £5 million for sports organisations.
The Department for Communities has been allocated £10 million for councils, £3 million for community support programmes, £1 million for food interventions, £800,000 to support town and city centres and £500,000 for IT support.
Meanwhile the Department of Justice has been allocated £21.5 million to fund cross-justice recovery, including courts, the prison service and the PSNI.