COVID-19 Guidance and Financial Support to Industry Sectors

Part of Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:30 pm on 7th July 2020.

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Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP 12:30 pm, 7th July 2020

I support the amendment. I also support the main motion, but I am indicating a preference for the amendment. I will explain myself during the discussion.

Undoubtedly, those who have been involved in a variety of industries, such as coach tour operators, ordinary coach operators, taxi drivers, heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and driving instructors have been severely adversely affected over the past months. Some have been affected to varying degrees, and I will come back to that.

As has been indicated, there are support schemes that are available to the self-employed. Putting together any scheme to provide additional support will need to be carefully worked out to avoid duplication. We do not want to double-fund someone and then not give funding to someone else. It is clear in my mind that there will need to be close cooperation with the Economy Minister, who has brought forward the vast majority of schemes that have been assisting those who have been working in Northern Ireland, particularly the self-employed. They have been in that central position, and, because of that, I believe that they have a role going forward. In addition, I understand that detailed work is going on on how we can assist the tourism industry to recover from the epidemic, and I understand that a separate work stream is looking at tour coach operators. It is important that we do not create a double funding and a double support mechanism. That is why I have a preference for the Executive working together and the two Departments working together and bringing forward an Executive-led scheme. With the money on offer, there is no point in somebody bringing forward a scheme that will not be funded. Discussions with the Department of Finance are needed as well, to assist those in need.

There has been huge variation in how drivers have been affected. Those giving driving lessons have had no work; it was impossible to work. In the HGV industry, if you were working in the construction sector, you had virtually no work because many construction sites closed down. However —.