Finance Minister, Conor Murphy visited businesses, arts and charitable organisations in Derry today to hear how the support from Covid funding schemes and rates relief have helped them through the pandemic.
More than 1,200 businesses within Derry City and Strabane District Council have benefitted from over £22.7 million of support from the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme for businesses legally required to close or severely limit their operations.
The Minister began his day by touring engineering solutions company FAST Technologies, which is one of over 850 manufacturers which will receive a £25,000 grant set up specifically for those unable to access grant support in the first lockdown.
Speaking following the visit Minister Murphy said: “Manufacturing businesses are an essential part of our economy employing over 85,000 people across the North. Like many other sectors, they’ve been adversely impacted throughout the pandemic. This one-off grant, along with the £50K Large Business Grant Scheme I announced last week, will support manufacturing companies unable to access grant funding during the first lockdown.
“This is in addition to the 12 months rates holiday which provided £22 million of support to over 2,200 manufacturing, childcare, retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. And now the extension of the rates holiday for a further 12 months means these businesses won’t pay rates for the second year in a row.”
The Minister also visited City of Derry Airport which is benefitting from the rates holiday as well as Covid-19 funding. Minister Murphy added: “Airports have experienced a dramatic downturn in passenger numbers. The Covid funding and rates holiday will enable the airport to plan ahead and will provide some much-needed support as restrictions are eased.”
Speaking after a visit to Foyle Hospice which has received £1.9 million of Covid funding from the Executive, Minister Murphy added: “Foyle Hospice provides an amazing service to its patients and families in the North West. Like many other charitable organisations they’ve seen a loss of donations as a result of the pandemic. Despite the challenging circumstances, the staff have continued to deliver vital services to support individuals and their loved ones at their time of need. It was humbling to meet the dedicated team at the hospice and hear about the difference the funding has made to them and the families they support.”
The Minister also took the opportunity while in the city to call into An Gaeláras, an Irish language, arts and cultural organisation which recently received £76,000 funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund being delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund in conjunction with Department of Finance. Minister Murphy added: “It’s great to see how the Dormant Accounts Fund is strengthening financial resilience in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. This funding will improve the range of programmes and services An Gaeláras provides and facilitate greater financial self-sufficiency into the future.”
Minister Murphy concluded: “I really welcome the opportunity to visit the North West and to meet some of the organisations which have benefitted from the grants and rate support put in place by my Department. This support has been a lifeline to many organisations and I hope it supports businesses across the North West as they reopen, recover and flourish.”
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