FERMANAGH businesses are bracing themselves for yet another squeeze on their wallets.
The UK government will be scaling back support for businesses with energy bills after warning that it was too expensive to keep the scheme going.
Businesses in receipt of this support across Fermanagh, the North and Britain will now be looking at their budgets to see how they can soften the impact of a much-valued loss of income.
With electricity, gas and heating oil prices at a high, support with energy bills was welcome.
While Noelle McAloon of Enniskillen BID (Business Improvement District) backs the county’s businesses to dig in and tough it out, she admits that government support is needed – especially during the current cost of living climate.
She said: “While it has been a positive time with the economy having a good December, we are still very much in an economic crisis. We’re looking at businesses changing their projections because their costs have increased and the worrying thing is how much they can increase their prices to cover these costs?
“Not to mention how tolerant are people’s pockets? It’s great that there is a little certainty but the costs remain high. We now have ‘a new normal’ in terms of our overheads.
“Businesses that have good business plans and have a strong handle on their finances will survive. However, a lot more forward-thinking will be needed.
“This is all coming back to business owners having to do it for themselves and it has to be recognised that government support is really, really needed. At the same time, big businesses will be able to find a way to navigate through all this.”
McAloon admits that resilient though our local businesses are, the withdrawal of energy bill support will come as a blow.
She added: “There’s good businesses that are still hanging in there and are working extremely hard. But the more I work with businesses, you realise that there’s always another kick in the teeth around the corner.
“I know the health care sector absorbed the brunt of Covid but businesses also took a hit with that. Same with the cost of living. However, the resilience of the business community pleasantly surprises me.
“An entrepreneur with an entrepreneurial spirit will always find a way around that kick in the teeth and around those hurdles.”
In its announcement, the UK government said it was scaling back the energy subsidies for the next financial year to £5.5bn.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “My top priority is tackling the rising cost of living – something that both families and businesses are struggling with.
“That means taking difficult decisions to bring down inflation while giving as much support to families and business as we are able.”
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