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75% of North West businesses confident of growth in 2022 despite cost pressures, new survey reveals

75% of North West businesses have said they are confident their business can grow in 2022 despite ongoing cost pressures, a new survey has found.

A survey of Londonderry Chamber members revealed optimism for the year ahead from North West companies despite the ongoing difficulties presented by Covid-19 and rising costs.

When asked about specific cost increases, 65% cited energy costs while 58% said staffing difficulties. 6 in 10 businesses said they were considering price increases in the next 12 months in response.

Just 9% of respondents want to see May’s Assembly election focus on the Protocol, with regional imbalance and further investment key priorities for North West businesses.  Businesses also wanted to see the extension of rates relief into the new financial year and a delay to the increase in VAT.

Aidan O’Kane, Londonderry Chamber President, said:

“These survey results are a cause for optimism after a turbulent 12 months. With nearly all Covid-19 restrictions lifted, businesses are finally beginning to put Covid-19 in the rear-view mirror and focus on recovery.”

“However, this survey also lays bare the devastating impact that cost pressures are having upon local businesses. Only 5% of respondents stated they have seen no cost increases recently, and as energy and material costs surge, businesses are reeling. An extension of rates relief into the new financial year and a delay to the VAT increase is essential to prevent these cost increases hitting the consumer.”

“North West businesses are clear in their need for skills and workforce development support. Staffing shortages are widespread, and it is only through the continued expansion of Ulster University Magee and North West Regional College that we can create the talent pipeline our region needs.”

“The Assembly election is under 100 days away, and North West businesses want to see the incoming Executive make addressing regional imbalance a top priority. 9% of members want to see a focus on the Protocol, which, while the focus of significant political discourse, was the ninth of ten most important issues facing respondents.”

“In 2022, we have an opportunity to put the pandemic behind us and focus on rebuilding our regional economy. The Executive and UK Government must listen to our concerns and provide businesses with the support they need going forward.”