Firms at the sharp end of Brexit need to be given greater leeway in applying for Government financial assistance, a border accountant has said.
Dundalk small businessman Paddy Malone said loans available from Government were being restricted to new business practices.
He welcomed extra money for customs training for businesses announced in Tuesday’s budget.
Mr Malone said some firms were still hurting from the devaluation in sterling after the referendum which has affected trade from Belfast.
“If ever there was a case for derogation from a straitjacket we have it at the minute with Brexit.”
Mr Malone has been a long-standing member of the Dundalk Chamber of businesses and is a vociferous advocate for the border community in the north east of the country.
Dundalk suffered economically during the Trouble and is one of many border towns which could be on the front line after Brexit and whose future depends on the negotiations being played out in Brussels.
Mr Malone said many border businesses needed help with day-to-day costs but much of the loan funding was aimed at changing practices, like moving online or expanding their businesses.
“Schemes for loans are still geared towards businesses developing but a lot are more interested in survival.
“Some won’t qualify because they need help for day-to-day stuff whereas the loans are geared to helping people to go online and expand their businesses.”
He welcomed the allocation of an extra five million euro for Local Enterprise Offices, up a fifth, to support small businesses including through a new customs training programme.
“At least it is being done properly and being allowed for.”
He criticised the Government’s decision to increase the rate of tourism VAT.
“That won’t make this region any more attractive for people coming from Belfast.
“The number of visitors from Northern Ireland has dropped significantly since the pound has fallen in value.
“I hope that the extra money they raise is not going to be spent in Kerry (in the far south west).”– Press Association
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