NI small businesses say debt and lack of government support is slowing their recovery

  • A new survey from Ulster Bank shows that most businesses expect to recover from Covid-19 but they face significiant immediate challenges.

    The Covid-19 crisis has caused strain on businesses across Northern Ireland, with over 60% of 205 NI SMEs surveyed agreeing that the pandemic has impacted them negatively. Around 88% of those surveyed said that they expect to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic in the next two years, but most identified issues that are holding their businesses back.

    Around 28% of those surveyed said that indebtedness was a problem for their company going forward, with 10% saying that it was a serious problem. Other problems identified included social distancing restrictions impacting their work, supply chain challenges that are expected to get worse due to Brexit, and lack of government support.

    In terms of next steps for government support, 38% said government intervention to ease business debt would help boost their competitiveness, 33% of respondents said they would like to see further grant support, and 31% wanted to see more investment in infrastructure to stimulate the economy. Around 23% also agreed that the government should extend to the furlough scheme to keep people employed.

    The survey was commissioned by Ulster Bank and conducted by research agency Perceptive Insight, who spoke to a representative sample of over 200 NI businesses with between 10 and 250 employees. It follows up on recent findings by the British Chambers of Commerce showing that around 10% of UK businesses that took on debt to combat Covid-19 may have to cease trading.

    Mark Crimmins, Head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, commented on the results: "We are approaching a crucial juncture for the Northern Ireland economy with the ending of the furlough scheme. Many local firms have been dependent on this support as well as support from government-backed lending schemes. Ulster Bank therefore wants to help stimulate further discussion about what a recovery of the economy looks like from here."

    Source: Written based on press release

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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