Brown welcomes further funding for flood-hit businesses

South Down MLA Patrick Brown has welcomed an Executive Office announcement that a further funding round for flood-impacted businesses will open in January.

Patrick Brown Flooding

Over 200 businesses across NI, particularly in Downpatrick, Newry and Portadown, faced unprecedented flooding for several days at the end of November.

Mr Brown said many businesses are still struggling to recover, with many not yet able to open their doors due to the damage. So far, rates relief has been applied to these businesses and many were able to apply for a £7.5k grant. However, with the estimated economic impact of the flooding well into the tens of millions, and many excluded from the criteria attached to this initial funding, it is clear more needs to be done to provide financial support to businesses.

Welcoming the announcement, he added: ‘In November the Alliance Party wrote to relevant agencies outlining our priorities for how the remainder of the £15m flood recovery fund should be spent. I am pleased that the Executive office has an announced a fund very close to what we proposed, specifically a grant fund of up to £100k, based on need for those worst impacted by flooding. Businesses will need to evidence their losses, applications will open in January, and all money must be spent by the end of the financial year.

“There still remains a number of important questions we are seeking clarity on, and this includes whether stock and loss of revenue can be included in calculations (early indications are that only equipment, fixtures/fittings and cleaning/relocation costs will be covered), and also how we can ensure businesses excluded from the £7.5k grant are included. After a positive meeting with Acting Permanent Secretary for Economy Ian Snowden this morning, I was encouraged that his department will be looking into these issues.

“Many businesses who have insurance still face significant losses over and above what they are insured for, and it’s important that this is taken into account in any further scheme. Additionally, there are a number of businesses who were excluded because they were not yet trading, are charities or did not have internal flooding. It’s important that these factors are taken into account to ensure no one in need of support is excluded.”