Sinn Féin Economy spokesperson Caoimhe Archibald has called on the Department for Economy to ensure its grant schemes are accessible and meet the needs of businesses.
The call comes following the Department handing back £2.5 million worth of funding for its Recently Self-Employed Support Scheme.
“It is deeply frustrating that at a time when businesses are struggling, that the Department for Economy continues to hand back money as schemes underspend.
“The recently self-employed are a group which had been excluded from many of the supports announced last year and I had continuously pressed the Minister to create a grant scheme to support these people.
“While the Minister belatedly put in place a support scheme, the eligibility criteria for it has meant that many are still left without support and the criteria has already had to be amended.
“The Economy Minster should look at how to extend the scheme to reach those who remain excluded rather than hand back money.
“If our economy is to recover the Department for Economy must ensure that business supports are accessible and that they meet the needs of business particularly those which have been excluded in the past.”