SDLP economy spokesperson Sinead McLaughlin MLA, and deputy chair of the Assembly’s economy committee, has criticised the Department for the Economy’s application process for the latest business financial support, the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme, and called for stronger leadership at the Department.
She was speaking directly after the latest economy committee meeting at Stormont.
She said: “Many businesses have complained to me in recent days about the complexity of the application form for the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme, which is enormously bureaucratic. This comes after a series of disasters that the Department for the Economy is responsible for – including grants paid out in error to Sinn Fein and owners of wind turbines. Meanwhile, many firms across the North are going to the wall because they can’t get any financial support to see them through.
“I asked in the Assembly this week if the Minister, Diane Dodds, has confidence in her response to this crisis – because the businesses that have contacted me certainly don’t. We are going through a health and economic crisis, which requires strong leadership. At present, we don’t have it at the Department for the Economy.
“We need an improved process for the administration of financial support, along with measures that support businesses that have until now not received help. But we also need a long-term vision for recovery, which creates new jobs as fast as possible."