The head of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Northern Ireland, Roger Pollen, has called for the Department for the Economy to provide urgent assistance to small and micro businesses as they face escalating costs. And although he welcomes the commitment to introduce an energy discount scheme to local households he believes that businesses should also be given financial aid to get them through these unprecedented times. He has asked for an emergency meeting to be set up between the FSB and the Department for the Economy.
Surging Operating Costs Faced By Businesses Need To Be Addressed
Roger Pollen is quoted in an article on the Belfast Newsletter website as saying:
“Any help with household energy bills is very welcome but the timescales of support remain unclear, and the surging operating costs faced by businesses also need to be addressed. The cost-of-living crisis cannot be solved without solving the cost of doing business crisis.
“Business owners across NI continue firefighting against the costs of fuel, utilities, product inputs, labour shortages and tax increases. Recent weeks have seen dozens of small businesses forced to close. Many are under intense financial strain and trying to find ways to manage day to day cash flow. In order to avoid prolonged difficult times, a range of interventions will need to be brought forward imminently. These interventions can only be properly determined through engagement with business in the first instance.
Planning For The Difficult Winter Months
“The UKG holds many of the economic levers which could ease the pressure, but this also requires the development of a plan by local politicians. The absence of a functioning Executive should not absolve Stormont Ministers of the need to take steps to plan for the difficult winter months.
“That is why FSB is calling for the establishment of a working group involving senior officials and business representative organisations to co-ordinate support that will help ease the strain of costs and develop solutions. This cannot be put on hold any longer.”
We have been looking at the situation that businesses face in our blogs for some time now, with rising costs and reduced demand for goods and services, not long after the Covid pandemic hit our shores, creating a perfect storm. Many small businesses will simply not survive if assistance is not provided, and this assistance needs to be given at the earliest opportunity. Let us hope that Roger Pollen gets what he is asking for.