Lobby group ExcludedNI claims that up to 10,000 sole traders and micro business owners in Northern Ireland have “been left behind” despite UK government efforts to assist the regional economies during the coronavirus lockdown.
Although hundreds of millions of pounds have already been paid out in support grants, Brian Donaldson of ExcludedNI has been left devastated that around £65m was underspent by Stormont while so many people got nothing. Freelance chef Mr Donaldson said he fully expected the economy minister to “make a case” to her Executive colleagues for a new micro business hardship fund. Sign up to our daily newsletterThe i newsletter cut through the noise Freelance chef Brian Donaldson of ExcludedNI
“We reckon there about 10,000 people who have been left behind ... again, but this time by Diane Dodds and not so much [UK Chancellor] Rishi Sunak,” Mr Donaldson said. “Included in that are childminders, tutors, taxi drivers, a flower shop owner, people who make chocolate and people who sell online and most of them are one-person businesses. We approached the minister, expecting a new hardship fund would be introduced, but she washed her hands of it and said ‘it’s nothing to do with me anymore, it’s up to the [NI] Executive to decide what to do with the underspend’.”
ExcludedUK is a newly formed non-profit NGO and serves as a collective platform for those entirely or largely excluded from the UK Government's Covid-19 financial support measures. We are a rapidly growing organisation and an inclusive community, representing a broad spectrum of individuals and businesses, but all sharing one common thread: we are excluded.
As an organisation we will play a crucial role in facilitating support and assistance on multiple levels, both for now and into the future.Our aim is to build a stronger platform, raise awareness, lobby for support, raise funds for legal challenges and help enable the changes that are needed for those excluded.Most importantly, our hope is that our efforts can help propel affected individuals and businesses forward in the face of adversity resulting from Covid-19 and being excluded from Government support, while equally ensuring we are all able to help each other emerge from this crisis.