Alex Easton MLA has today accused the Finance Ministers department of being far too slow in getting the Restrictions Support Grant Scheme funding out to small local businesses in North Down.

Speaking today Alex Easton MLA said:

“My Constituency office has been contacted by small businesses who have applied for this grant and, who have been waiting six weeks to receive the grant, or have been told they don’t qualify but actually do and have had to appeal causing further delays. There is total confusion for small; local businesses who have applied and need this grant funding quickly. Businesses deserve to have a system that is in place that is quick and efficient, and that the grant funding gets out to them as quickly as possible.”

“This delay and lack of planning demands action by the Finance Minister to ensure there is a communication strategy rolled out to help provide clarity for those business applicants that there is enough staff in place to cope with the demand.”

“Further confusion has also arisen from a “check box” which led the Department to believe that the applicants had not been trading before the restrictions were put in place. Some of the businesses I have dealt with have been trading for over 30 years and are deeply frustrated that six weeks after closing they are now facing into an appeal mechanism to get the support they deserve.”

I will be raising this matter with the Department of Finance in the NI Assembly. The Finance Minister needs to ask his officials to get a simple explainer posted on the Department’s website and social media. The Department of Finance needs to step up and get its act together.”

“Six weeks after closing, it is not good enough that payments are stalled. We all appreciate the need for checks and balances when paying out public money but this was supposed to be a simple scheme to speed up payments, yet it is stalled in confusion.”