Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (28 April 2020)

Date published: 28 April 2020

Northern Ireland Executive ministers and their officials have over the past 24 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.

Covid-19 Executive Update
Covid-19 Executive Update

Farmers eligible for the UK Government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme were today urged by the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots to apply.

The financial support scheme is designed to ease some of the financial pressures the self-employed face because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The eligibility criteria for the scheme requires farmers to:

  • be self-employed
  • have business profits under £50,000
  • have submitted a self-assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019
  • have traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
  • be trading when applying, or would be except for coronavirus
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • have lost trading profits due to coronavirus

Those eligible will receive a taxable grant worth up to 80% of their average trading profit in previous years which HMRC will pay, capped at £2,500 a month, for a period of three months in one instalment.

Noting farmers were facing severe financial difficulties, Minister Poots said: “It will provide some help at this difficult time for farmers and their families but I recognise that it’s not enough. I will continue to press the Government and EU for a support package for farmers in Northern Ireland. In the current difficult climate I would also strongly advise any farmer who wishes to seek advice on business, technical or environment aspects of their farm to contact their local CAFRE Adviser. The contact details are 0300 200 7843.”

Minister Poots also wrote to the Chief Executives of each of the 11 Councils, NIGLA and Arc21, outlining five key principles to help them decide on any changes to waste services during the Covid-19 emergency.

In addition to the current principles, requirements and duties in waste, environmental and health protection legislation, the key principles are;

  • Protection of human health and the environment. Protect human health (including the workforce collecting and processing waste material) and the environment from the adverse consequences of waste not being managed effectively (in line with the scientific assessment of the risks and health advice on the approaches that support the controlling of the spread of COVID-19).
  • Social equity. Ensuring that proper account is taken of those needing support and those householders with limited storage capacity at their dwellings.
  • Waste hierarchy. Manage waste in line with the waste hierarchy, in priority order: reduce, reuse, recycle, energy recovery, landfill, unless over-ridden by the need to protect human health and the environment.
  • Resilience. Maintain the operation of a diverse range of facilities in order to provide resilience if key services are impacted or close down.
  • Preservation of material flows. Ensure the flow of material to businesses that use recyclate, such as for food packaging, and derive energy from waste.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill joined staff today at the South Tyrone Hospital in Dungannon as members of the public observed a minute’s silence at venues across Northern Ireland for key workers who have died from Covid-19.

Insisting it was important to recognise the loss of key workers during the 11am International Workers’ Memorial Day event, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Whilst our thoughts are with health and social care workers in particular this year, we cannot forget the sacrifices made by all other workers, both at this time, and in the past too – across all sectors.”

First Minister Arlene Foster said the minute’s silence was “a small but important act of gratitude to those workers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of others, and to the families and friends who have suffered their loss.”

The deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added: “We remember especially today all those health and care workers across the world who have lost their lives treating and caring for people through this pandemic.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Northern Ireland Executive is producing a regular digest of key initiatives and decisions that have been undertaken by ministers and their Departments relating to the Coronavirus crisis.
  2. Members of the public are encouraged to check regularly the Public Health Agency, NI Direct, NI Executive and government departmental websites and social media channels for public health advice on how to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
  3. Current information and advice in relation to Covid-19 can be found on the PHA website at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus
  4. Patients who have a persistent cough, or high temperature, together with any other members of their household must self-isolate according to the guidance on the PHA website at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus#what-should-i-do-if-i-think-i-have-coronavirus
  5. The Department of Health NI has launched a new Covid-19 NI information app to provide people with immediate advice and links to vital trusted information. The app will be updated as the pandemic evolves. Download the Covid-19 NI app - search for Covid-19 NI on the Apple app store and Covid-19 NI on google play.
  6. The online version of the app is hosted on a new website https://covid-19.hscni.net.
  7. A COVID-19 statistical dash board can also be viewed on the Department of Health’s website at: https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiMWFhZDgzZDYtMTE4Yi00MTBjLWIzYmQtMTZhYzc1MGEyMTk1IiwidCI6IjljOWEzMGRlLWQ4ZDctNGFhNC05NjAwLTRiZTc2MjVmZjZjNSIsImMiOjh9
  8. The Framework for the Wellbeing of Health and Social Care staff can be accessed at the following link: www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/2020-04/HSC_Regional%20Staff%20Wellbeing%20Framework.pdf and is based on evidence and best practice guidance and is informed by The British Psychological Society Guidance Paper.
  9. Psychological Support Help Lines will be staffed by psychologists and psychological therapists who can provide appropriate support throughout the surge phase of the crisis.
  10. The Helplines will be made available by each Trust to all their staff, to all GP Practices in their area, to all Ambulance staff based in their area and to all independent sector care providers in their area. In this way support is offered to all parts of the system throughout surge.
  11. The Framework document is supported by resources which are available on the PHA website: www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/guidance-hsc-staff/staff-health-and-wellbeing
  12. If you are in distress or despair at any time including the Covid-19 crisis, the 24/7 Lifeline helpline is available on 0808 808 8000 where trained counsellors are available to help you.
  13. Updated guidance for care homes is available on DoH website at: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-guidance-nursing-and-residential-care-homes-northern-ireland
  14. Anyone wishing to volunteer for health and social care support roles can do so via: www.hscworkforceappeal.co.uk/.
  15. The Freephone COVID-19 Community Helpline can be accessed by telephone on 0808 802 0020; email covid1@adviceni.net or text ACTION to 81025. It is available 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm.
  16. Statistics on weekly deaths registered in Northern Ireland can be accessed on NISRA’s website at: https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/weekly-deaths
  17. Volunteer Now has launched a new online campaign #HelpEachOther for those who wish to volunteer for COVID-19 related opportunities and for those organisations which require the support of volunteers to deliver their services to the most in need. Further information is available at: www.volunteernow.co.uk
  18. A list of schools which are open for educational supervision is available on the Department of Education website: www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/schools-open-supervised-learning-key-workers-children-and-vulnerable-children.
  19. A link to the guidance on schools clustering is available here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/guidance-schools-cluster-arrangements
  20. Forms for those applying to provide supervision to vulnerable children and the children of key workers can be accessed from the Department of Education website using the following link:  http://apps.education-ni.gov.uk/appc19vol/default.aspx
  21. Information on the full range of support for businesses during the COVID-19 emergency is available at: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-updates-support-your-business
  22. HMRC are aiming to contact farmers eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme by mid-May 2020 and invite them to claim using the GOV.UK online service. If unable to claim online an alternative way to claim will be available. HMRC will pay the grant directly into the farmer’s bank account. More details are available from – https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-claim-grant-through-self-employment-income-support-scheme
  23. Media enquiries should be directed to the relevant department using the following email addresses. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

The Executive Office: Press.Office@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: PressOffice.Group@daera-ni.gov.uk;

Department for Communities: Press.Office@communities-ni.gov.uk;

Department of Education: Press.Office@education-ni.gov.uk;

Department for the Economy: DfE.PressOffice@economy-ni.gov.uk;

Department of Finance: dof.pressoffice@finance-ni.gov.uk

Department for Infrastructure: Press.Office@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

Department of Health: PressOffice@health-ni.gov.uk

Department of Justice: Press.Office@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk

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