Mr Durkan said many businesses are struggling to stay afloat amid ever increasing energy prices with many at real risk of closure.
Currently, businesses in the North of Ireland do not benefit from the energy price cap afforded to households.
Said the Foyle MLA: “The serious and precarious financial situation local businesses are facing in the wake of energy hikes is putting many at real risk of closure.
“I’ve spoken with several local business owners who have just about managed to keep their doors open post pandemic.
“They are now battling to stay afloat given significant increases in supply costs and notably the higher energy costs applied to businesses.
“The cost of energy is already extortionate for households here and unbelievably that is with an energy price cap in place. Businesses are not afforded that protection.
“In October 2021, I raised this issue with the Economy Minister and was assured that work was ongoing with the Utility Regulator and the Consumer Council to ensure that small businesses are protected as much as possible.
“In addition, businesses are paying rates for the first time in almost two and half years.
“This added financial burden is a real kick in the teeth for businesses who already struggling.
“Livelihoods are at risk and the likelihood is that some will be left with no option but to shut up shop.
“In March of this year, the Finance Minister announced the offer of one month rates’ holiday for all businesses for the 2022-23 rating year.
“This is a paltry provision considering the difficulties and bleak outlook facing local business owners.
“An extension of the rates holiday would provide meaningful support and cushion the impact of rising costs for businesses here.”Tags: