Belfast Chamber Calls for Budget Support to Overcome Coronavirus Impact on Economy

Belfast Chamber has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and the Northern Ireland Finance Minister Conor Murphy to include support for businesses in their Budgets this month to help them deal with the uncertainty created by the coronavirus outbreak and the impact that any measures that may have to be introduced will have on companies.

The organisation – which represents over 600 businesses in Belfast – has called for decisive action to ensure that a temporary shock to the economy doesn’t become a bigger crisis.

Commenting, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “Ordinarily, Belfast’s business community would have been looking to the Chancellor and the Finance Minister to take steps in their respective Budgets to stimulate growth in our economy after what has been a difficult few years. It is now absolutely essential that both take swift and decisive action to support companies who are inevitably going to be impacted by the spread of COVID-19 and to do all that they can to ensure that a temporary shock on our economy doesn’t become a bigger crisis.

Belfast Chamber understands completely the various pressures that face Government nationally and locally, but we call on both the Chancellor and the Finance Minister to put in place a package of measures like a rates reduction for businesses, a VAT and rates holiday and a hardship fund so that businesses and employees who may be impacted can get the support they need. We welcome the interest rate cut by the Bank of England and also trust that lenders will work closely and sympathetically with customers who experience difficulties during this period.

Belfast Chamber appreciates that, first and foremost, the spread of COVID-19 is a public health issue. We also understand that it is a serious situation and that appropriate measures may be required. What we ask of Government is that, as well as seeking to contain the spread of the virus, they continue to offer clear advice on what to do to citizens and businesses and that they recognise that some support is now essential.

Belfast Chamber members are getting on with business. All they ask is that Government recognises the significant challenges and uncertainties they are facing and that support is offered to assist them at this time”.