More cash is needed to help small businesses in Northern Ireland deal with the coronavirus pandemic, council chiefs have said.

Support should be broader than just the clients of Government jobs creationagency Invest NI, a group of councils told a Stormont committee on Tuesday.

An extra £20 million was recently allocated by the Communities Department to help local authorities support those in need and provide essential services.

Suzanne Wylie, Belfast City Council chief executive, said: "There is notsufficient finance to help the small and micro-businesses.

"Recovery funding packages are being put in place through Invest NI, primarily for their clients, not for the small businesses out there which employ so many of our population."

She said a funding package needed to be put in place for towns and villages to help reskilling and invest in digital infrastructure for the future recovery.

She said councils were facing significantly reduced incomes and acknowledged the Communities Department had announced its multi-million pound package of support.

Businesses have also enjoyed special support grants and rates relief as well as the UK-wide furloughing scheme.

"The coronavirus presents a serious danger to local businesses and the vitality of towns and villages across Northern Ireland.

Stephen Moutray, NILGA

Representatives from the Northern Ireland Local Government Associationand the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives gave evidence toStormont's Economy Committee on Tuesday morning.

They said councils have been at the forefront of providing small businesssupport during the coronavirus crisis.

Stephen Moutray, from NILGA, said councils only hold 5% of the public purse yet will be on the "front line" of the economic rebuild.

"Economic development teams across the country are responding quickly tobusiness needs and concerns, but their resources and capacity are stretched.

"Government interventions like offering rates relief to most businesses for 12months, amending and extending the furlough scheme for a longer period and widening the self-employment support scheme would be enhanced measures to protect our local economies."