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Source: Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said that months long delays in providing support grants that were promised to businesses forced to close or severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis are unacceptable.

The Foyle MP said that the Economy Minister and the Finance Minister are overseeing a disaster that will force viable businesses to close and cost jobs.

Colum Eastwood MP said:

“There are businesses and workers across Northern Ireland who are waking up every day not knowing if they’ll have a livelihood to return to when this crisis is over. It is a scandal that, having promised them support to get through this period, the Finance Minister and the Economy Minister have failed to deliver for thousands of businesses. Some of these employers have been waiting for more than a month and have not had so much as an acknowledgment. It is an astounding level of incompetence.

“As of Thursday, Finance Minister Conor Murphy has yet to process more than half of the applications his Department received while the Economy Minister hasn’t even opened the scheme for supply chain businesses affected by the latest restrictions. Contrast that with the quick work of Minister Nichola Mallon who accepted new powers and had a scheme in place for taxi drivers within days.

“This situation will cause businesses to fold if it is not addressed urgently. People will be put out of a job before Christmas. These people and these businesses don’t deserve to be treated like Covid collateral damage. Conor Murphy and Diane Dodds need to urgently outline how they’ll get this support to these employers quickly.

“SDLP representatives across the North are ready to assist businesses and employers as they navigate these delays and I would appeal to anyone experiencing problems to contract their local representative who is ready to provide support.”

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