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‘Confused messages’ in UK and Irish Government’s varying responses

25 Mar 2020 / business Print

‘Confused messages’ from UK and Irish Governments

The Small Firms Association (SFA) has welcomed the Government’s latest support measures designed to see small businesses and their workers through the COVID-19 crisis. 

Director of the SFA Sven Spollen-Behrens said: “The Government has listened to the feedback we have provided and responded to the needs of small business owners across the country.

“Importantly, those that are self-employed who are experiencing a significant loss of income, will be eligible for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.  

Understandable

“The announcement that non-essential retail outlets have been ordered to close is understandable given the circumstances. 

"I encourage these small retailers to contact their local authority immediately in relation to rates deferral and to seek advice from their Local Enterprise Office on additional COVID-19 supports. 

“SFA supports the newly announced social distancing measures and will work with small business owners to adhere to them and continue to support them during this crisis.” 

Meanwhile, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has said it is unhelpful that the British and Irish governments are responding differently to the crisis.

Inter-dependence

Director general John McGrane said: “Given the interdependence between both economies and considering the Common Travel Area and our invisible border between North and South, the idea that Ireland and the UK are responding differently to the same challenge is unhelpful for businesses and their employees.”

The British Irish Chamber of Commerce represents businesses that trade between the UK and Ireland, a trade worth over €1.5bn a week in normal circumstances and which sustains over 400,000 jobs across both islands.

Two distinct messages

“We now have a situation where one member firm located on both sides of the Irish border are now receiving two distinct messages and instructions from their political leaders.

“This may lead to confusion at best or misinterpretation at worst.

“Our call is simple, it would be helpful to businesses if both the UK and Irish Governments adopted a similar approach in their responses to this shared challenge.”

Clarity

In addition, Mr McGrane added: “Clarity for businesses and workers alike is one of the most important things a Government can do at a time like this.

“In the case of the UK, I am urging their Government to be more explicit about what it considers an ‘essential’ business.”

The Family Business Network (FBN) Ireland, meanwhile has also welcomed the Government’s newest series of measures to combat COVID-19 and to safeguard the Irish economy.

Gazette Desk
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