Communities Minister Caral Ní Chuilín and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots have announced a further allocation of £1.7million to councils as part of the Department for Communities’ Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme.

Announcing the additional funding, Minister Ní Chuilín said: “This is undoubtedly a difficult time for our high streets.  I introduced this programme as a way to deliver tangible support to businesses and councils and I am pleased to be able to announce this further funding today which brings the total investment in this programme to £19.3m.

“I have worked closely with Executive colleagues and councils to ensure that this collaborative Programme addresses the needs of citizens and businesses to create a safer environment for all.  The grant schemes offered by councils through this Programme have proved very popular with businesses.  This new funding will allow additional businesses to create a more Covid-secure experience for shoppers and workers alike.”

The Programme, has now allocated a total of £19.3m to help every council to make their town and city centres a safer environment for everyone. This includes £12m from the Department for Communities, £5m from the Department for Infrastructure and £2.3m from the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Minister Poots added: “I am pleased to provide this additional £300,000 from my Department’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation budget to the Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme. There is high level of demand for this grant aid support and I hope that it will assist rural businesses invest in equipment and facilities that will provide a safe environment for customers and staff in our villages and rural towns. 

“Rural businesses are key to ensuring the sustainability of our rural communities and I want to encourage people to shop local when they can. I know that our businesses are doing all they can to make this as safe and convenient as possible.”

To date, councils have used around £7m of Programme funding to establish a number of grant schemes for businesses. The additional funding announced today will be used to provide further support for these schemes, with £1.4m from DfC going towards grants in the larger urban towns and £300,000 from DAERA providing similar business support in smaller rural settlements.

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