The Northern Ireland Executive are ‘too focused on wooing jobs into Belfast and are forgetting small and medium sized businesses locally’.
SDLP Assembly candidate Justin McNulty has strongly criticised the Executive’s record of supporting local and indigenous businesses.
“Time and time again local businesses are telling me of the very real pressures they are operating under and they want to see the Executive place a greater focus on helping to support and grow jobs locally,” said Mr McNulty.
“We heard devastating news for up to eighty jobs at Tayto in Tandragee and in recent months we have seen other employers make similar announcements, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.
“Day in, day out we hear some political leader’s talk of the economic recovery picking up pace yet local business people are telling me the exact opposite. This week I have spoken with local business representatives who have expressed concerns for their future of their businesses due to rising costs, this is down to business rates, increasing utility costs and rising wage costs.
“Some businesses are saying they are putting recruitment processes on hold, where they had hoped to expand, whereas others are talking about reducing staff numbers or work hours.”
He added: “Local businesses are unanimous in their call for Stormont to do more for local business as well as seeking to attract inward investment and jobs. Local businesses feel Stormont is not doing enough to support local businesses whilst jetting around the world trying to attract jobs which ultimately end up in Belfast. We need to see the Assembly and the Executive do more to support our local and indigenous businesses as well as ensuring that any jobs that are created through Foreign Direct Investment are spread across this region, Newry and Armagh needs to be getting its fair share of those jobs.
“I want to see Stormont listen more to the genuine concerns of local businesses, be they manufacturing, service or retailing jobs. We must do more to support small and medium sized businesses as it is they who are the backbone to our local economy and provide the vast majority of jobs locally.”