Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has been in Banbridge where he has met local business owners as they prepare for the first steps on the long road to economic recovery after the Covid-19 restrictions were eased.
Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart joined Mr Lewis on his visit to Banbridge.
The visit included meeting local businesses and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, and a visit to the Banbridge Chronicle office.
The MP said it had been “an excellent opportunity for the Secretary of State to consult local retailers on the challenges faced and how Government support has been invaluable in supporting local business”.
And she added: “The funding package provided by the Government has allowed local businesses to secure £10,000 or £25,000 from the NI Executive, or to furlough staff. Without this support, many businesses simply would not have survived and many jobs would have been lost.
In the coming days we need to look at further measures to encourage people to come into our town centres. We also need the Government to look at bold measures to encourage consumers to spend.
“One move would be to reduce the rate of VAT, and this is something I have raised this week with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That would be transformational, not least for our tourism and hospitality sector.
“I want to thank the Secretary of State for being proactive and in getting out into local towns to hear from business. I look forward to working with him in the coming days to continue to help economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”