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Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee, Paul Frew MLA has welcomed agreement by the Executive to extend rates relief for key sectors in the economy.

The DUP MLA said, “Whilst the key threat posed by COVID-19 is obviously to the life of people in our community, the necessary lockdown measures have had a devastating impact upon many businesses. The initial three-month rates holiday was welcome, but there was a need for further action.

Whilst some sectors of the economy have been able to continue working, albeit with obvious disruption, others have either been forced to close entirely or have been severely impacted by the restrictions. Rates are one of the biggest financial burdens facing businesses and across the United Kingdom assistance with these has been a key tool used to assist.

The further one month rates holiday for all businesses, backed up by targeted one year relief for sectors like hospitality, tourism, childcare and smaller retailers is the right course of action to take. I had previously called on the Finance Minister to act and I know this was strongly supported by his colleagues in the Executive.

Whilst it will be impossible to spare businesses the full impact of this crisis, we should not forget either the scale of assistance which has been given, both UK-wide and by the Executive. Such interventions by HM Treasury and the Executive are vital, but there will still be many challenging months ahead as attempts are made to rebuild the economy when restrictions can be further relaxed.”