The Department of Finance in Northern Ireland have told 795 businesses that they will have to pay back money which has been wrongly allocated to them under the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme. There were another 95 firms who were due to pay the money they received back, but these businesses have been found to be eligible for the payments after a further assessment. Also 52 firms have already paid back the money they erroneously received, either in full or in part.
Over £260 Million Has Been Paid Out
The 795 businesses had received money from the scheme which was introduced to help give financial support to those firms that had to shut down for periods from the autumn of last year onwards. Over £260 million in total has been paid out under the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme, but there were a number of exclusions to the scheme which it seems have not been thoroughly checked before payments have been allocated to certain businesses.
This is a rather messy state of affairs and it will come at a time when many of these businesses will have very little revenue coming in and cash flow available, so it could hit many businesses very hard indeed. All the funding that has been made available by the government since the start of the pandemic has of course been very welcome and there would have been very few companies who would have been able to survive without the life-raft of these grants.
No Further Covid Related Deaths
In other news, data showed that there were no further Covid related deaths recorded in the UK over the last 24 hours, which is very encouraging. Scientists and government ministers are still sounding a note of caution, which we suppose is understandable given the spread of the Indian variant of the virus in certain areas of the UK. But the fact that there are less and less people becoming seriously ill and hospitalised just shows that the vaccines are working their magic and are slowly moving us out of this long running crisis.
Remarkable Vaccine Take-Up Rate
The take-up rate for the vaccine here in Northern Ireland has been pretty remarkable and we have to be thankful that this has been the case. If all goes well over the next few weeks then there must be every chance that all lockdown restrictions will eventually be lifted and we can all go back to our normal daily lives, would`t that be just the best news we could possibly get?!