Northern Ireland small businesses say more support needed after Autumn Statement

PA 171122 Jeremy Hunt autumn statement
Jeremy Hunt presented his Autumn Statement. Credit: PA

Retail Northern Ireland says it's "disappointing that there was very little further support" for small businesses in the chancellor's Autumn Statement.

The group was reacting to the announcements made by Jeremy Hunt on Thursday.

Meanwhile the Belfast Chamber of Commerce called for more to be done by the Government to "build business confidence".

And following the announcement of £650m for Northern Ireland, the chamber said the need for an Executive to be reformed "could not be clearer".

Glyn Roberts from Retail NI said: “Our members are facing a perfect storm of cost challenges from Energy, Business Rates and a major downturn in consumer spend.

"It is disappointing that there was very little further support in the statement for local small businesses struggling to keep the lights on.

"The freezing of the threshold for employer National Insurance is a stealth tax on small businesses and jobs and will result in higher costs.

"We note the chancellor announced a £13.6bn package of business rate support for small businesses in England.

"We will be lobbying for the Barnett consequential of this to provide rates relief to struggling small traders In Northern Ireland."

Ann McGregor from the Belfast Chamber of Commerce said: "Businesses will hope that today’s Autumn Statement will provide much needed stability following a period of significant turmoil, but more is needed from the government to build business confidence.

"With additional funding for Stormont announced today, the need for an Executive could not be clearer."

Meanwhile representatives of the hospitality sector also expressed hope that the chancellor "can do even more after today's statement".

Colin Neill from Hospitality Ulster said: “The cost of doing business, soaring energy and food costs, inflation coupled with the cost-of-living crisis necessitates sustained intervention to protect businesses and jobs to see the hospitality industry through this winter.

"We are hoping the chancellor can do even more after today’s statement.

"Locally, the situation is compounded by the lack of an Executive and the ability to pass on any support coming our way under the Barnett consequential is worrying.

"It is vital that we see its return to bring forward a hospitality strategy among a host of other actions to protect businesses."

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