MP Foyle Sinéad McLaughlin was speaking as the long-awaited High Street support program went live this week.

She said many local businesses were struggling as people turned to large supermarkets and she had received calls from shopkeepers, cafe owners and restaurateurs in tears because they had no idea. no choice but to let go of the loyal staff because of the drop in income.

“Independent retailers and local hotel companies have been on their knees during the pandemic, while large supermarket chains have survived without losing revenue. In fact, many supermarkets have increased their revenues.

Sinéad McLaughlin

“Small self-employed people have been in crisis, despite support from tariff relief and time off. Many companies have contacted my office in dire straits. Some business owners have cried on the phone.

“They told me they couldn’t afford to continue paying the staff who had been loyal to them for many years. I implore consumers to show their loyalty to independent and local businesses on the main streets of the villages. and in city centers, we need them today and will need them in the future, ”she said.

The MP for Foyle said downtown areas have been hit hard by the pandemic and the lockdown measures that have necessarily been imposed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

“Just look at our shopping streets. I can tell you about Derry. Even before the pandemic, we had serious problems because many consumers had stopped going downtown. They bought their products online or in out of town malls. Britain’s Labor Party announced today that it wants to reduce the impact of trade rates and increase the tax burden on global online retailers.

“I make this plea to everyone in the Chamber and to everyone who listens to this statement or reads my messages: encourage people to spend their vouchers in local businesses. We depend on them for the survival of our city centers.

“I beg the Minister to fix the broken website and devote all the resources he has to it. We are spending £ 145million on the voucher system, and we cannot prepare it at this point. If the problem is is up and running or to do with the process, it needs to be fixed now instead of waiting a week or two in the program, ”she said.

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