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DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has called on the Finance Minister to apologise to 800 covid-19 support grant applicants who have received correspondence informing them that they are not eligible for the grant support even though their business was forced to close as a result of the DoH restrictions.

Mrs Lockhart has since contacted the Department of Finance on behalf of constituents who received the correspondence.

Commenting Mrs Lockhart said,

“One trader who has been in business for over 30 years was told they were not eligible because they were not trading prior to the restrictions being in place. Another who has traded for over a decade was told the same.

I queried both cases with Conor Murphy’s Department and now understand that this was a “checkbox” problem in the application process and there are 800 applicants affected by it.

The Minister would need to get his ‘check boxes’ sorted and get the money rolled out to businesses who were forced to close and need the support.

Whilst the Department is now addressing the problem, this will undoubtedly add further delay to the businesses receiving their support.

At the very least, the Minister should apologise for this delay and confusion caused.

I appreciate that we need robust checks and balances, but these payments are for restrictions started on 16 October.”