Trade NI, the alliance of Hospitality Ulster, Retail NI, and Manufacturing NI, which represents over 5,000 businesses in Northern Ireland met with the new Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD in Dublin this afternoon to discuss developing the all island economy, Brexit and Covid-19 economic recovery.

The group also met the Sinn Fein Seanad Leader Niall Ó Donnghaile.

Trade NI Chief Executives Colin Neill, Glyn Roberts, and Stephen Kelly said:

“This was a good first meeting with An Taoiseach were we outlined our commitment to work with his Government and the NI Executive in developing the North-South economy post-Covid and as we approach the challenges businesses will face due to Brexit come 1 January 2021.”

“As both Governments on this island are now focusing on Covid-19 economic recovery, the role of business in driving and shaping our economy is absolutely vital. We had a useful discussion with An Taoiseach on the economic aspects of his Department’s new Shared Island Unit. We also discussed the cooperation required, particularly for goods destined for the Northern Irish and UK marketplace, via Dublin Port, when the Northern Ireland Protocol comes in to force on 1 January.”

“The EU Withdrawal Agreement comes with the potential for significant burdens for Northern Irish and Irish businesses, so there needs to be greater collaboration between Dublin and Belfast on areas of mutual benefit where possible to ensure our post-Covid recovery is strong. Businesses, consumers, and tourists must be able to continue to enjoy the island of Ireland as a good place to shop, visit, socialise and do business.”

“Our visit with An Taoiseach coincided with the first meeting of the North South Ministerial Council since the Executive was reformed and we hope that greater cooperation will bring about a positive response to the current health and economic emergency.”

“Trade NI has already published its ‘Vision 2030’ – a detailed ten-year plan for the Northern Ireland economy. We hope to produce our own ideas for developing the all-island economy over the next few months.”

R&D Tax Credits is a government initiative developed to encourage innovation and now more than ever provide a valuable source of financial benefit for manufacturers facing the worst.

A total of £75 million was paid out to businesses in Northern Ireland in R&D Tax Credits during 2017-18. But many businesses are still missing out on potentially tens of thousands of pounds.

Yesterday I spoke to Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI who confirmed the pressure his members are under at this time: “Hundreds of our manufacturers are providing life-sustaining, priority goods for consumption at home and as part of international supply chains.  A significant number of our members have repurposed during the Covid-19 pandemic; changes have been made to products and services as well as to processes as many have had to adapt to changing staffing levels. R&D is critical to all of this and we are keen to alert manufacturers to claim the benefits these tax credits provide.

“With 4 out of 5 of our currently firms using cash from the business to sustain operations now, R&D tax credits should be considered a very legitimate and accessible way to get additional cash into your business at this time.”

The rebuilding of our economy relies on our manufacturing companies who rely strongly on R&D.  There is support available for companies of all shapes, sizes and sectors but many companies are not claiming their full legitimate entitlement and could be losing out on tens of thousands of pounds.

We are working closely with Manufacturing NI and a broad range of companies across Northern Ireland to help them get their slice of the millions that the government has made available.

At such a time it is also vital that when claims are submitted the government moves quickly with payments.  In helping Northern Ireland companies claim for tens of thousands in recent weeks, it is reassuring to see that HMRC are clearly making this happen that for many within the manufacturing industry are proving vital as they fight for survival.

With even more R&D promised in the most recent UK Budget, we are calling for all companies large or small to seek advice in this area.   We are all in this together and working together I hope we not only survive but thrive in the years ahead.




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