IN A bid to evaluate the current economic climate, the Bank of England has been holding regular meetings with local business leaders to get an on-the-ground assessment.
The Chief Executive of Mallusk Enterprise Park, Melanie Humphrey, recently met with the Central Bank’s Deputy Agent for Northern Ireland, Gillian Anderson, to discuss the impact the ongoing downturn is having on businesses at a ‘grassroots’ level.
The local Enterprise Park is home to more than 50 businesses, which between them employ nearly 300 people.
“We hear regularly from small businesses about their difficulties finding secure credit or lending from our banks. Overdrafts and loans are practical tools that businesses use in order to expand and grow. Some of the banks are under obligations to lend, and whilst every case is different, it is evident on the ground that access to credit is a struggle for some businesses,” Melanie explained.
“Other sectors are still expanding: some manufacturing, hydrological and geological industries are growing, but the business to business services that dominate our local small and medium sized sector require more support.”
She continued: “Businesses that sell goods or services to private individuals are also at risk. Although the base rate has remained low, some banks have already raised interest rates on mortgages and loans; this has a knock on effect on businesses that rely on consumer spending. As private disposable income shrinks, this negatively impacts on the small business sector.”
Gillian added: “The intelligence we gather through our regular discussions with business is extremely valuable in helping the Bank to build a picture of the economic conditions being faced by companies in Northern Ireland.”
Local businesses seeking help and support should call the free phone ‘Business Helpline’ on 0800 980 7990.