SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said the Economy Minister Gordon Lyons' response to questioning on support for small businesses is woefully inadequate.
In his response to a question tabled by Ms McLaughlin, the Minister failed to detail any efforts on his behalf to put new support schemes in place.
The Foyle MLA said:
“The Minister continually fails to face up to the scale of crisis facing businesses in the winter months and his latest response on support spells that out. The fact that he cannot point to a single intervention that he himself has made shows a complete abdication of his responsibilities as a Minister.
“I find it staggering that when asked about this crisis, the Minister can only detail the efforts of others, without acknowledgement of the fact that what businesses need right now is action. If we do not put urgent support in place businesses across the North will have no choice but to close their doors. We have regrettably seen significant numbers already making that difficult decision, with others cutting jobs in a desperate attempt to stay afloat.
"In the absence of support from the Minister, our business community has come together and produced a plan which includes advocating for funding to assist our hospitality and retail sectors, reform of the Rates Hardship Fund and the implementation of the NI High Street Taskforce Report, positive recommendations that would make a real difference to those who are struggling.
“This emergency is every bit as serious as the coronavirus pandemic and we need to see similarly urgent support. Any small business owner reading this response from the Minister will receive little comfort. His response to this situation and the attitude he has displayed since taking on the role leaves little confidence he's up to the job."