Urgent help to support struggling local businesses is needed says South Down MLA, Patrick Brown. The calls come off the back of the continued rise in energy costs and increasing inflation, which have led to a number of businesses across South Down having to close.
Businesses that were struggling to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are now in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, with some facing a fivefold increase in energy bills in October alone.
Brown said “Local businesses across South Down are struggling right now and the NI executive and UK Government need to act quickly before things get worse. As part of a series of policy proposals the Alliance Party are calling for a targeted reduction in VAT rates. This should be tailored to those businesses most affected by rising fuel and food costs such as hospitality, food production and manufacturing.”
“We also need to expand small business rates relief, offer financial incentives via rates to tackle dereliction and help new businesses get on the high street.”
“My team and I have been talking to businesses throughout South Down and it has been sad to see a number close, for example in Downpatrick, Newry and more areas. It is clear we need immediate government action, however, in the longer term there needs to be an independent review of Non-Domestic Rates in NI to ensure that the burden is being distributed fairly and in a manner that is pro-business. None of this can be achieved if the DUP, who claim to be pro-business, continue refusing to enter government.”