Stalemate 'driving local companies to edge of collapse'
Businesses in Northern Ireland are facing growing levels of trading distress in contrast to the rest of the UK, according to research.
The Stormont stalemate could be one of the reasons for the concerns of businesses, it was claimed.
The quarterly data by advisors Begbies Traynor said that between the third quarter of last year and the same period this year, there has been a 38% hike in the number of businesses here suffering "critical" financial distress.
The term relates to companies which over the last three months have suffered severe financial problems such as county court judgments of more than £5,000, or winding-up petitions.
The number of critically distressed businesses in the UK over the same period dropped by 13% and all other UK regions, apart from the north-east and the east of England, saw critical distress fall.
Lawrence O'Hara, partner at Begbies Traynor in Belfast, said: "It comes as no surprise that some of the recent hammer blows to Northern Ireland, such as the large-scale job losses at Bombardier and planned Schlumberger plant closure, have begun to take their toll.
"Continued uncertainty created by the Stormont stalemate and Brexit are also conspiring to worsen the situation, and the contrast between the levels of financial problems besetting Northern Ireland's businesses and those in the rest of the UK is extremely worrying for the region."
Ken Pattullo, head of the firm in Northern Ireland, added that an increase in interest rates - expected to be announced today - would compound the pressure, particularly on those firms that had "overstretched themselves" while rates were low.