On 2 September 2020, we issued the first in a series of overview reports summarising the main actions taken by the Northern Ireland Executive in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now commencing the work necessary to produce the second report in that series.
Our first report estimated (on the basis of the most up to date information available at the time) that the cost of the COVID-19 response in Northern Ireland would be over £2 billion. That figure excluded:
- the Northern Ireland cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme), since regional cost information was not published at the time;
- £1.05 billion relating to just over 26,000 business loans offered under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme; and
- financial losses incurred by local councils as a result of suspension of income-generating activities.
Our report included departmental initiatives with an estimated cost in excess of £1 million. All information included in the report was provided by departments. No audit of the figures was undertaken and no assessment of the value for money of individual measures was made.
Our second report will follow the same format as our initial report, providing updated estimated cost figures to 31 January 2021.
We aim to publish this report in April 2021.