Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said local businesses must not be left behind in accessing flood relief support.
With the British Treasury currently signing off a significant second-phase flood recovery scheme, the South Down MP has been working with a number of local businesses who have yet to receive a penny in vital support despite suffering devastating flooding last month.
Chris Hazzard MP said:
“It is completely unacceptable that in the mouth of Christmas a number of our local, independent businesses have still not received any financial help in the aftermath of serious flooding.
“Listening to some of these business owners this week it is clear there are several barriers that must be addressed, or serious financial hardship will hit many of them hard in the new year.
“As initially feared, some insurance companies are making things needlessly difficult and refusing to cover what would ordinarily be considered as a reasonable claim.
“One business owner has said the increase cost of the cleanup will not be covered. So having been excluded from the £7,500 cleanup grant on the grounds they have insurance, they are now being told by their insurance company this ‘increased cost of work’ will not be covered.
“Shockingly, another business owner was told that their shop fittings, flooring costs and seasonal stock will not be covered. This is completely unacceptable.
Mr Hazzard added:
“So my message to the insurance companies is simple: in this time of unbearable anxiety and worry for our small retailers, show some compassion, understanding and humanity.
“In light of these barriers, the local Council and the Civil Service officials who are responsible for designing the relief schemes, must ensure they do not inadvertently create an ‘excluded’ group of local businesses who fall between the cracks.
“I urge them to speak with those affected, get an understanding of the limitations they are facing so far, and work to ensure no business is left behind.”