Government support package announced for NI operators
A bespoke package to provide financial assistance for Northern Ireland’s bus and coach sectors will be brought forward by the country’s government. The funding will also benefit taxi firms.
The First Minister and deputy First Minister have conferred the necessary powers on the Infrastructure Minister to administer the schemes, which the Executive Office says will be developed urgently.
The funding package will complement the existing Executive schemes which are being progressed to provide support to other sectors impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
First Minister, Arlene Foster, said: “Covid-19 has had an enormously damaging impact on all sectors of business and services. The operators of taxis, private buses and coaches have faced a significant reduction in demand for their services, yet their overheads have continued. It is absolutely right that they should be able to avail of financial assistance to sustain them through this difficult time and I hope they will take some comfort in the knowledge that support will be forthcoming.”
Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, said: “The Executive is committed to providing all possible support to businesses and workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The taxi, private bus and coach sectors have been negatively impacted through loss of earnings, and many have shouldered the cost of implementing safety measures to ensure the safety of their customers. I’m pleased that the Executive’s support schemes will soon include a bespoke funding package to alleviate the hardship being faced by workers in these sectors.”
The First Minister and deputy First Minister have written to the Infrastructure Minister setting out the Determination and Designation under the Financial Assistance (Northern Ireland) Act 2009, which enables the Department for Infrastructure to take forward a scheme to provide assistance. They have also requested that the Infrastructure Minister provides further detail in relation to her consideration of the impacts of the pandemic on the road haulage sector.