Brexit: Northern Ireland could be plunged into a recession in wake of vote
Northern Ireland is facing a real chance of going into recession along with the rest of the UK, it was claimed today.
The Federation of Small Businesses's (FSB) Small Business Index is at a four year low after suffering its biggest ever slump, the organisation said.
Its research was carried out before the EU referendum, and the FSB suggested that the looming vote had been undermining confidence. As a result, small firms were putting off investment decisions.
FSB members were also facing falling profits because of rising labour and tax costs.
Wilfred Mitchell, FSB policy chairman in Northern Ireland, said that the index showed that "even before the EU referendum result was announced, local small businesses were reporting tough business conditions".
"The EU referendum decision has left many questions unanswered, and it is essential that the case is made for Northern Ireland in forthcoming negotiations to shore up the economy and provide support," he added.
The number of firms planning new capital investments fell from 31.9% last year to 12.2%, according to the index.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: "For the first time since 2009, the UK economy faces a real chance of a recession.
"To head this off, we need to do everything we can to support small firms to grow, create jobs, and weather the harsh economic headwinds.
"We need ministers to take stock and roll back any plans that will make doing business more difficult or costly."
Mr Mitchell previously said future negotiations between the UK and EU must take into account Northern Ireland's position as the only region sharing a land border with an EU state.