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Coronavirus: NI Minister responds to government’s ‘unprecedented’ decision to pay wages


The Northern Ireland Economy Minister has welcomed the “unprecedented” move for the UK government to pay the majority of wages for staff not working.

The impact of Covid-19 on our businesses is a global economic crisis, the likes of which has never been experienced before.

Diane Dodds MLA said her priority is to mitigate – as best we possibly can – against the worst effects on our communities.

“Therefore, I welcome this significant economic support package announced by the Chancellor, in particular the support that it offers our workers,” she said.

“It is unprecedented in the history of the UK, but extraordinary crises require extraordinary bold action. I have been pushing this issue with Central Government as the policy intervention which has the single greatest impact for our local economy.

“I am glad that the Government has listened to my call, and that of the many groups representing business, tourism and hospitality in Northern Ireland.

“This is a huge crisis for our economy. Many people feared this would cost them their business or their jobs. I welcome the fact that the government is prepared to intervene in this way.

“During this week we have seen the increased pressure facing our local businesses and I would urge all our firms to take advantage of the measures announced to support their workers. The coronavirus job retention scheme will provide an income of up to £2,500 a month for those employees not working. It will be backdated to March and will be available in weeks.

“The increases to both working tax credit and universal credit by £1,000 per year will also help to protect the most vulnerable in society. Furthermore, I welcome the measures supporting the self-employed providing them with access to universal credit. And I am pleased that the Chancellor has decided to defer VAT payment until the end of June.

“These announcements are in addition to the measures we are taking to sustain the livelihoods of families from across our community.

“We have announced a £10,000 grant for small businesses and a grant of £25,000 to companies in our beleaguered hospitality, tourism and retail sectors. Together, these schemes will inject £370m to support tens of thousands of our most vulnerable businesses to help with cash flow.”

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