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Hope fading for many businesses promised financial assistance, says Muir

Hope is fading for many businesses promised financial assistance by the Economy Minister, Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has said.

On April 10, Economy Minster Diane Dodds announced a scheme designed to ‘support businesses not currently able to access existing regional or national grant schemes’. However, details of the scheme have yet to be released, with companies still unable to apply.

North Down MLA Mr Muir said it was exacerbating an already dire situation for many businesses.

“In a press release last week, the Minister said the Executive had approved a £40 million hardship fund, and promised details around eligibility and applications would be announced this week. But here we are at the end of the week and businesses still remain in the dark. Enough is enough – the snail’s pace by the Department and Minister on this and other matters is not acceptable, and may lead to a number of companies not surviving this crisis.

“The Executive announced this week the gradual stages towards eventually ending the lockdown. Therefore it is ludicrous many businesses are still waiting to have the possibility of even applying for grant support to get them through this pandemic.

“Many I have spoken to have avoided burdening themselves with debt, hoping financial support would be quickly forthcoming but that hope is now fading, given the repeated delays from the Department and Minister. These delays will leave companies in even more dire circumstances than they were at the start of this crisis. The sad fact is many will now struggle to survive.”