Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called on the Economy Minister to reconsider the criteria for the current hardship fund so sole traders and social enterprises can receive financial support.
The party’s Economy spokesperson said:
“I have written to the Economy Minister expressing the frustration of numerous business owners who have been excluded from the current business grants due to the eligibility criteria, including sole traders and social enterprises that have charitable status.
“Many sole traders, who are not eligible for the self-employed income support scheme, had seen the hardship scheme as a lifeline.
“These are entrepreneurs, tradespeople and service providers that make important contributions to our local economy and deserve support to ensure their businesses can survive and recover.
“Likewise, many social enterprises have not been able to access the grant schemes to date. They had been under the impression they would be eligible for the hardship scheme from initial announcements and they are shocked they are not included due to their charitable status.
“These are businesses that in many cases provide important and vital services in our communities. They deserve to have the same support as other businesses and not be excluded because they operate on a not-for-profit basis or for community benefit.
“I would strongly urge the Economy Minister to urgently reconsider the criteria so these businesses who have been waiting several weeks already, can be eligible to receive financial support.”