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Dickson Despairs as Economy Minister Continues to Fail Small Businesses

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, has spoken out against the inertia of the Economy Minister as he fails to step up and help struggling businesses such as those in the local takeaway industry.

Mr Dickson said: “I asked the Minister, in light of the reports that half of Northern Ireland’s takeaways are at threat of closure due to rising costs, what support is he providing to help the sector?

“His response was a complete non-answer. He shirked his responsibilities as Economy Minister and stated that the energy challenges facing the country can only be dealt with on a national level.

“Whilst we all know this to be true of the wider energy and cost of living crisis, I do not accept that a man in his position, with overarching responsibility for the business environment in Northern Ireland, can do nothing to help such a huge proportion of industry struggling to keep the lights on”.

In the last year, since September 2021, the wholesale cost of natural gas has trebled (+194%), while the cost of coal (+104%) and home heating oil (+107%) has doubled. Coupled with ongoing global supply chain disruptions, these unprecedented increases in energy costs are driving inflation across the economy, including input cost pressures for small businesses.

Mr Dickson concluded by saying: “This is an incredibly difficult time for Northern Ireland – none should be more acutely aware of the pressures facing businesses than the Economy Minister. Yet he, alongside his DUP party colleagues, still resist the pleas of the people of Northern Ireland to get back around the table and do the job they were elected to do”.

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