Derry chamber issues 'wake up' call politicians as election deadline looms

Two in three Derry businesses surveyed have confirmed they have been negatively impacted by the lack of a functioning Executive at Stormont.

The latest indictment of the ongoing stasis comes as almost 90% of businesses in the city and region also reveal soaring energy and material costs is now their biggest challenge.

The figures were revealed following a survey by Derry’s Chamber of Commerce, which found the 86% of North West businesses are facing rising costs and inflationary pressures.

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Rising energy and material costs as well as decreasing consumer demand due to the cost of living crisis are hitting local firms hard.

The Chamber has warned that the tick is clicking.

94% said they expected they will have to increase their prices in response to rising costs, and three-quarters said it was “extremely important” to have the Executive and Assembly return at this time to provide assistance.

Looking ahead to the medium and long-term outlook, Chamber members continue to view investment on the North West region as central to unlocking the region’s economic potential.

Ahead of this Friday’s 28 October deadline to restore the Stormont Executive, the Chamber is calling on the parties to urgently get round the table to ensure local power-sharing returns, that another election is avoided at all costs, and to deliver supports for businesses and households ahead of the winter.

Aidan O’Kane, President of the Chamber of Commerce said: "There’s simply no getting away from the fact that the lack of an Executive is worsening the situation for our local businesses and this should serve as a wake-up call for our local elected representatives.

Chamber President Aidan O'Kane. (Stephen Latimer Photography)

"The fact that 67% of respondents have said that political inaction has damaged their business should be a clear signal that the prospect of further delay is totally unthinkable. The Secretary of State has been clear that he will call an election if the parties do not restore the Executive by the end of this week. This is last chance saloon for local political decision making.”

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He added that the set of results is an ‘alarming snapshot’ of the pressures facing businesses in the North West.

"What we are seeing is that across the board, businesses big, small and from every economic sector are facing unprecedented financial strain, whether it’s rising material costs, exorbitant energy bills, or simply depleted demand from consumers with less disposable income.

“In the nine months since our last survey, rising costs have jumped from being the ninth biggest concern for business, to now unquestionably the biggest, featuring in nine out of ten responses. This is further illustrated by the fact that almost one in five say they are not confident of business growth set against these economic conditions.

“Our findings also highlight clearly and unambiguously that there simply must be more done to support businesses in the wake of these pressures. Our members have listed the types of interventions that would relieve pressure at this time, be it rates reductions, help with energy bills, or direct financial support to help with materials and products.”