Alliance councillor calls for urgent support for Sole Traders in wake of Covid-19 crisis.
Rowallane Alliance councillor Patrick Brown is calling for more to be done to support and protect Sole Traders.
Across Northern Ireland many small businesses have yet to receive any support from the government as the country continues to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst initially welcomed, the recently established NI Micro-business Hardship Fund, launched by the NI Executitve, excludes the smallest of local businesses – Sole Traders and ‘1 man band’ companies.
Councillor Brown said: “I find it shocking and condracitory that a scheme, which has a core aim of helping the smallest of businesses during these unprecedented times, is failing those who are in desperate need of support due to their size.
“Many innovative and successful modern businesses have a single entrepreneur behind them, and these people have been some of the worst affected by the pandemic.
“The new NI Micro-Buisness Hardship Fund was set up to help micro-businesses which were unable to benefit from other regional and national schemes.
“The Department for the Economy has promised £40 million will be available through the fund, as it acts as a source of instant cash flow for those who are struggling due to Covid-19. Grants. These funds which will be dispensed by Invest Northern Ireland on behalf of the DfE. They can be up to £10,000 for businesses who pay businesses rates on premises, and up to £5,000 for those who don’t.
“However, since the Eligibility Checker has gone live, it is evident that Sole Traders are exempt from the receiving the fund, and are once again not being considered by the Executive.”
Councillor Brown added: “The Alliance Party will be urgently calling for support for these ignored businesses from the Department of Economy. In England, Scotland and Wales, micro-businesses like these already have their grants – it is bitterly disappointing that our Department cannot do the same.
“I’d urge the Economy Minister to consider the livelihoods of those who are being so severely let down, and move urgently to set up a new fund for excluded entrepreneurs who should have already been supported by this one.’’