Seasonal businesses ‘need help from Invest NI’

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MORE should be done by Invest NI and the tax Office to help seasonal businesses which are at the heart of our tourism economy, a local councillor has said.

Independent councillor David McClarty made the comments during a meeting with Invest NI’s Chief Executive when he visited Coleraine Council’s Policy and Development Committee on Tuesday.

Cllr McClarty said that while Coleraine could boast indigenous companies such as Armstrong Medical which started locally and now exports around the world, he was concerned about smaller local tourism-based companies which are having short term cash flow difficulties.

“These are businesses which are seasonal by nature but which are here to stay and have been operating for quite some time,” he said.

“Then another agency, HMRC are on their backs wanting payment. They may be threatened with closure and face the prospect of jobs being lost and the taxpayer facing yet another bill in terms of benefits for the people who have lost their jobs.

“Does Invest NI have any influence with HMRC to make them see sense and give these companies, which are seasonal, some breathing space?”

Chief Executive of Invest NI, Alastair Hamilton, said that tackling short term cash flow was a challenge.

“If a company is viable but is really struggling, we have some tools for buying time but there needs to be outputs by that company, they may have to restructure or draw up a business plan. We can’t continue putting money in every time they have a blip.

“I would advise those businesses to speak to our office directly.”