Overview of the Northern Ireland Executive’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Northern Ireland’s Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr Kieran Donnelly CB, has today (2 September 2020) published an “Overview of the Northern Ireland Executive’s response to COVID-19”.

The report sets out that, at August 2020, the total estimated cost of the COVID-19 response relating to Northern Ireland is estimated to be over £2 billion. However, this excludes the NI cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme). When this is known costs will rise materially.

The £2 billion estimate is made up of two main elements. The anticipated spending by the Northern Ireland government departments on 84 separate initiatives (£1.74 billion1) and the estimated cost of other national schemes which apply to Northern Ireland (£465 million) – including increases in welfare payments.

The report notes that, with Northern Ireland still progressing through the various stages of the pandemic, and with some activities yet to be costed, the actual cost will be much higher.

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