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Business in North West remains confident

72% of North West business have said they are confident that their business can grow in 2021 despite the Covid-19 pandemic, a new survey has found.

A survey of Londonderry Chamber members revealed optimism for the year ahead from North West companies despite the ongoing difficulties presented by Covid-19 and Brexit.

However, respondents said that the new post-Brexit trading arrangements are posing a variety of challenges including supply chain difficulties, increased paperwork, and barriers to trade.

When asked what measures will help them recover post Covid-19, 7 in 10 businesses called for the extension of the furlough scheme into the second half of 2021. Businesses also wanted to see greater flexibility surrounding Stormont grant criteria and relaxations on CBILS loans.

In a statement, Dawn McLaughlin, Londonderry Chamber President said: “These survey results are a cause for optimism after a tough 12 months. With the vaccine roll-out progressing well, businesses are looking forward to putting Covid-19 in the rear-view mirror and focusing on recovery.

“However, this survey also lays bare the devastating impact government restrictions have had on local businesses. With nearly 8 in 10 businesses being impacted by restrictions, businesses in the North West are still reeling from the effects of lockdown. The Executive must now produce a workable, strategic economic recovery plan, to ensure that the current lockdown is the last of significant restrictions imposed on businesses.

“North West businesses are clear that the furlough scheme must be extended to protect jobs and livelihoods. Ahead of the UK Budget on 3 March, Executive ministers must ensure they lobby the Treasury and the Chancellor to extend the scheme well beyond its current end date of April to protect jobs and boost the post Covid-19 economic recovery.

“Businesses in North West are also experiencing real difficulties caused by Brexit. The Executive must work with the UK government and the EU to iron out the supply-chain difficulties, paperwork issues and trade barriers that are now faced by businesses across the North West.

“In 2021, we have an opportunity to bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic and focus on boosting our regional economy. This will only be possible if the Executive and UK Government provide businesses with the support they need going forward.”