Some Responses To Chancellor’s Covid-19 Measures

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Help Needed For Businesses Says Shannon

Strangford DUP MP Jim Shannon MP who attended the Commons Budget Debate today, has made contact with the NI Finance Minister and the UK Chancellor asking for measures to be put in place to help small businesses meet overheads.

He said: “It is absolutely understandable that we are being asked to employ social distancing tactics but my concern is that we need to then put into place aids to help the businesses who rely on footfall and passers-by. During the debate on the budget today I highlighted this issue challenging the Chancellor to step up and help small businesses immediately.

Jim Shannon MP.

“I understand the seriousness of the Budget in relation to coronavirus, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. The Chancellor outlined measures to ensure that small businesses in England receive rates relief, but the same processes are not in place in Northern Ireland.

“Our disappointment is that although the Chancellor said those things, unfortunately we do not see any benefit coming through to us at the moment in Northern Ireland. Will the Minister confirm what money will be available for Northern Ireland, based on the Budget and Government information?

“I welcome the fact that the Government will cover 14 days of statutory sick pay for companies with 250 employees, and the suspension of rates to pay sick leave, and so many other things that have been brought in for England. But are we in Northern Ireland any less British? Are our businesses any less deserving of help? Can we say that we have got what is needed from coronavirus aid? The answer is no, we have not, and I am very disappointed about that.

“I have heard mothers say that, if they have no school or paid day-care for their children, they will not be able to work. So if they have coronavirus and need to self-isolate, there will be real problems with childcare providers.

“At this uncertain time I sincerely appreciate the Chancellor’s efforts, but we need a whole UK approach. Just as in other times of national crisis the regions pulled together, so must we also do that. The Government intend to ensure that someone’s postcode does not dictate the help and assistance given, in the same way that it doesn’t dictate their income tax. Let us get this right.”

Retail NI Reaction To Chancellors Statement and Chancellor’s Statement & NI Finance Minister’s £100 million Rates Package

Reacting to the support for business announcements  by the Chancellor and Finance Minister, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Retail NI is very clear -Northern Ireland small businesses need the same deal as the Chancellor has outlined in his statement. Our members are dealing with the same crisis and deserve the same support from Government in relation to Business Rates relief.

“The package from the Finance Minister needs to go a lot further than just exempting business rates for three months. The Chancellor has given small business a rates holiday of a year in England and this needs to happen in Northern Ireland.

“Minister Murphy also needs to outline how much the Regional Rate will be reduced by.

“We also need urgent clarification as to whether the funding grants outlined by the Chancellor for small businesses of £10k-£25k apply in Northern Ireland.

“While we accept the Finance Minister’s rates package is a initial first step, we want the Executive to do much, much more to support business throughout this crisis.

“Northern Ireland businesses will rightly be asking the question as to why they are being treated differently to their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.”

Chancellor Delivers Positive Message Says IoD

Responding to the Government’s announcement of further support for the economy in response to Covid-19, Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “The Chancellor’s promise to do whatever it takes is the message business leaders needed to hear.

“It’s now vital to make sure businesses are able to take up the pledges that have been made before too much damage is done. Many have so far felt reluctant to take on loans with the road ahead uncertain.

“No matter the sheer size of today’s measures, the fight won’t be over. As the Chancellor said,  this is only the latest step, and Government must continue to listen to business leaders and be ready at hand to deliver further measures where needed. Support for employment and the self-employed will be essential as the economy experiences this historic disruption.

“Going forward, it’s crucial that the Government’s economic policy ties up with its wider response to the pandemic. Directors are hanging on every announcement to see how it affects their business and their people. Support for businesses must match up to what is being asked of them, or firms could go under. Business groups like the IoD will play their part and get the message out.”

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