Archibald calls for any unspent Hardship Fund money to be directed to those without support
Sinn Féin Economy spokesperson Caoimhe Archibald has called on the Economy Minister to direct any unspent money from the Hardship Fund to those businesses and workers who have received no support to date.
The East Derry MLA said:
"According to reports in today's Irish New more than £10 million of the funding allocated to the Hardship Funds may remain unspent as we approach tomorrow's deadline for applications.
"Since the Hardship Fund was announced I have been critical of how it has excluded sole traders, social enterprises with charitable status and other businesses.
"This Fund was anticipated by many to resolve the gaps in support that existed for businesses who did not qualify for earlier grant support.
"The underspend shows that the Department should have widened the eligibility of the scheme in the first place, which is something that I have consistently called for.
"In a time of unprecedented financial difficulty it is difficult to comprehend why the Minister would exclude sole traders who have not had any support to date.
"Those who have become self-employed in the last year are also unable to access support from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme.
"The Economy Minister must extend grant support to those businesses and entrepreneurs.
"If the £10 million underspend in the Hardship Fund materialises, then it should be re-directed to provide support to those who have been excluded from any support to date by the Department for the Economy."