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Small firms fearful over crisis at Stormont, claims FSB

By Staff Reporter

Small firms need political stability to reassure them that it's safe to invest in their business, it was claimed today. The Federation of Small Business (FSB) Index highlighted that UK-wide, confidence was back at pre-referendum levels after a decline in the third quarter of the year.

In Northern Ireland, small businesses were fearing that both political instability and economic stagnation would hold back growth.

FSB Northern Ireland policy chair Wilfred Mitchell said: "With ongoing uncertainty over the stability of the Northern Ireland Executive, the fears of our members are increased around issues such as economic stagnation, increased taxes and limited access to finance, as well as the daily business of Stormont coming to a halt."

Meanwhile, the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) has said the workloads of building firms will be hit by the political crisis at Stormont as crucial public spending decisions will be put on hold.

The CEF called on the main political parties to sit down and resolve their difficulties.

However, it said the crisis over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was the latest in a series of crises to drain confidence from the building industry and the wider economy.

CEF managing director John Armstrong said: "We are currently faced with no budgetary certainty in terms of the public sector construction projects which will be coming to the market from April 1 and no certainty in respect of how Northern Ireland is going to respond to the significant challenge of the imposition of the apprenticeship levy and the double levy impact on many local contractors."

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, added: "This situation is very concerning as political instability is neither good for business nor the economy."

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