Scope for more but Budget brings welcome support for NI businesses

Commenting on today’s Budget, PwC NI’s tax director Craig Harrison said:

“Although there is scope for more to be done, at a time of unprecedented challenge, Northern Ireland’s business community will welcome the measures announced today by the Finance Minister. 

“Many businesses are looking at short-term measures to manage costs and take advantage of various government measures like the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS), Time to Pay and Business Interruption Loans. But we also expect some businesses will pivot during this time, as they look to the medium and long-term opportunities to change their position in the market, perhaps via combinations with other businesses. 

“Under pressure from the retail and hospitality  sectors, the contentious issue of significantly higher business rates has been dealt with with an effective cut of 18%, when Reval 2020 is included, to benefit all businesses. The renewal of the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme will also help many firms which are a core part of the sector, and support the recovery on the other side of the crisis.

“For those businesses which have followed government restrictions and temporarily closed, in hospitality and retail, the CJRS is catching much of the cost. With attrition in the supply chain as well as the reality of imposing social distancing, the pressure on sectors like manufacturing, construction, pharma and food retail is growing.

“Any who hoped to hear of an extension to the 3-month non-domestic rates holiday will be disappointed. It is important for Northern Ireland's future economic recovery that this is levelled up with the more generous 12-month break in other parts of the UK, acknowledging the reality of our low levels of growth prior to the crisis and the significant challenge on the road ahead.

“As the detail is worked out and a more thorough document produced in May, it will be important to see a range of stimulus going forward. We hope to see additional measures where the Executive can support businesses in areas like increasing infrastructure spend and incentives for innovation and skills development.”

 

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