FSB NI reacts to Winter Economy Plan

Press Releases 24 Sep 2020

Roger Pollen comments on the economic measures announced by the Chancellor.

Responding to the ‘Winter Economy Plan’ announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, FSB NI Head of External Affairs, Roger Pollen has welcomed many of the measures which have been brought forward.

Commenting, Roger Pollen said:

“Today’s statement contains many practical steps which will make a real difference for small businesses in what will be difficult weeks ahead.

“It’s encouraging that small businesses can access the new Job Support Scheme, without facing excessive paperwork. This six month scheme should help some businesses who wish to retain the skills within their workforce, in a period where business conditions are difficult.

“However, we recognise that jobs will be lost in the near future, and the Northern Ireland Executive should move at pace to bring forward a bespoke re-training scheme for NI, which small businesses can utilise and which enables those losing their jobs to develop new skills.

“The ‘Pay as You Grow’ approach shows a commendable degree of flexibility, and will give businesses valuable breathing space to spread out their ‘Bounceback’ loan repayments over ten years, while also providing a crucial option to suspend repayments for six months if they are struggling. The assurance on credit ratings will bring comfort to many worried small business owners.

“We welcome the extension of the 5% VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sectors, as well as the greater time to pay VAT and self-assessment tax bills, which will give assistance to businesses and self-employed people who may be facing cashflow issues.

“We look forward to more details on the successor to the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. It’s right to provide assistance to this vital section of our economy.

“We are concerned that the Chancellor had nothing to say today on assistance for those who were left out of the first round of support measures, not least the newly self-employed and company directors. The Government urgently needs to come forward with an emergency relief package for these groups which have dutifully paid their taxes and deserve help too. 

“While it is within our gift to ensure that further intense restrictions are not required, government, both at Stormont and Westminster, should prepare to support businesses in what could prove to be a very difficult winter.”