Newry.ie

Long delays in providing support grants that were promised to businesses forced to close or severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis are unacceptable. 

That's according to MLA Justin McNulty who has said that the Economy Minister and the Finance Minister are overseeing a disaster that will force viable businesses to close and cost jobs. 

Canal Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Canal Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme opened to all council areas 19 October and as of Thursday 12th November 2020, the LRSS had made £12m of payments to 3,224 businesses. The Department of Finance projected the scheme would cost £35m in total. More than 11,500 applications have been made to the scheme. 

The Newry and Armagh MLA commented “There are businesses and workers across Northern Ireland who are waking up every day not knowing if they’ll have a livelihood to return to when this crisis is over. It is a scandal that, having promised them support to get through this period, the Finance Minister and the Economy Minister have failed to deliver for thousands of businesses. Some of these employers have been waiting for more than a month and have not had so much as an acknowledgment. It is an astounding level of incompetence.

 “As of Thursday, Finance Minister Conor Murphy has yet to process more than half of the applications his Department received while the Economy Minister hasn’t even opened the scheme for supply chain businesses affected by the latest restrictions. Contrast that with the quick work of Minister Nichola Mallon who accepted new powers and had a scheme in place for taxi drivers within days.

“This situation will cause businesses to fold if it is not addressed urgently. People will be put out of a job before Christmas. These people and these businesses don’t deserve to be treated like Covid collateral damage. Conor Murphy and Diane Dodds need to urgently outline how they’ll get this support to these employers quickly.” 

Mr McNulty says he has received numerous queries about this and asks anyone experiencing problems to contact his office for support.

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