Question Time: Economy Tuesday 13 April 2021

Diane Dodds, Minister for the Economy, answers Members questions on 13 April 2021.

Read the Official Report (Hansard) –

Each of the questions answered have been chaptered in the video to help you find them more easily.

Chapters / Questions

00:00 – ‘Energy governance for the Northern Ireland energy transition’

1. Miss Woods asked the Minister for the Economy for her assessment of the finding in the ‘Energy governance for the Northern Ireland energy transition’ research report, conducted by the University of Exeter’s energy policy group and funded by the Executive, that her Department’s statutory duty to promote the gas industry creates a risk of asset stranding. (AQO 1863/17-22)

09:40 – Economic Recovery Action Plan: Executive Agreement

2. Mr Sheehan asked the Minister for the Economy whether her economic recovery action plan was agreed by the Executive before being published. (AQO 1864/17-22)

19:00 – COVID-19 Support Schemes

3. Dr Aiken asked the Minister for the Economy whether her Department’s COVID-19 support schemes will continue whilst there are ongoing restrictions to trade for affected sectors. (AQO 1865/17-22)

4. Mr Chambers asked the Minister for the Economy whether she is planning any additional bids to the Minister of Finance for financial support schemes to assist businesses in their financial recovery from the impact of COVID-19. (AQO 1866/17-22)

29:54 – North/South Student Mobility

5. Mr McGuigan asked the Minister for the Economy to outline any discussions she has had with the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in relation to North/South student mobility. (AQO 1867/17-22)

Topical Questions

31:25 – Taxi and Coach Industry: COVID Support

T1. Mr McCann asked the Minister for the Economy, after thanking Members for the well wishes that he has received, albeit she will be aware that although taxi drivers and coach operators are extremely important to our economy, particularly our tourism offering, workers in those sectors feel that they have been neglected by her Department and the Department for Infrastructure, to explain why, if that is not the case, only one out of 49 applications to part B of the COVID restrictions business support scheme (CRBSS) was successful. (AQT 1181/17-22)

35:09 – Caravan Site Fees

T2. Mr McCrossan asked the Minister for the Economy, given that she will be aware from correspondence from him and other SDLP MLAs that caravan owners across the North feel deeply aggrieved about the costs that they have incurred over the past year in significant site fees, ranging from between £2,000 and £3,000 in some cases, despite not being able to use their caravans, to outline whether she has engaged with the Minister for Communities or what action has been taken to ensure that all those people with caravans are not severely financially disadvantaged because of COVID-19. (AQT 1182/17-22)

38:11 – COVID-19 Study Disruption Payment

T4. Mr McNulty asked the Minister for the Economy to confirm whether the Comptroller and Auditor General was correct in his assertion on 25 March at the Public Accounts Committee that her Department is paying third-level institutions a 10% fee to administer the £500 student COVID grant, for which the SDLP campaigned and 40,000 students are eligible. (AQT 1184/17-22)

40:35 – Wet Pubs: COVID-19 Support

T5. Ms Mullan asked the Minister for the Economy whether there has been an underspend in her Department’s £10·6 million allocation to the wet pubs business support scheme and to outline whether, if trading is limited when they reopen, she will consider supporting wet pubs going forward. (AQT 1185/17-22)

44:08 – FE Colleges: Face-to-face Teaching

T6. Ms Sugden asked the Minister for the Economy when further education colleges will return to face-to-face teaching, in line with this week’s return of post-primary schools. (AQT 1186/17-22)