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Budget 2021: 'It would have been brilliant to see some focus on the border, Brexit will have massive implications for us' - Leitrim B&B owner

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JJ O’Hara, who gave his comments on the Budget 2021 at the W8 Centre in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim (Photo: James Connolly)

JJ O’Hara, who gave his comments on the Budget 2021 at the W8 Centre in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim (Photo: James Connolly)

JJ O’Hara, who gave his comments on the Budget 2021 at the W8 Centre in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim (Photo: James Connolly)

As fears grow the border region will be relegated to a level four lockdown further risking the livelihoods of business owners the budget brought little in the way comfort.

Leitrim B&B owner JJ O’Hara is part of a consortium of business owners who formed an action group Border Businesses Against Brexit.

The Dromahair man hoped the budget would soften the blow of both Covid and the unique threat posed by Brexit but he says “it’s a mixed bag.”

“They reduced the VAT which is obviously a good thing but you need a turnover for VAT and there is very little of that.

“You can claim up to €5,000 or up to 10pc of your last year’s turnover but for tourism businesses that would be very low this time of year.

“I think that part of it (the budget) was very cleverly thought out.

“There is no cash grant and that was what I was really hoping for.

“Any tourism business earns their money over the summer so they can keep the lights and the heat on over the winter.

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“I don’t see a solution to that here.

“I think there should have been some kind of a fund rather than 10pc of their turnover, that’s not sufficient for a lot of businesses.

“With Brexit, I hoped they would have given some kind of investment for businesses in the border.

“A big cost for businesses now though is the carbon tax which will hit everyone’s ESB, heating and fuel bill.

“There are people who are trying to survive and they have that added tax now. It will wipe out the 10 per cent turnover allowance.

“Could they not have held off for another six months?

“I see major problems with hotels, bars and restaurants through the winter.

“Their 2021 season is already gone. The likelihood of international travel coming back is minuscule.

“A hotel with 200 rooms is in serious trouble. How can they possibly turn a profit or even survive?

“It would have been brilliant to see some special focus on the border region because Brexit will have massive implications for us.

“I don’t think this is a people’s budget.”

“In Manorhamilton two cafes and a butcher shop closed in the last two weeks.

“Those cafes were viable businesses they were a great addition to the community and each of them employed two or three people. There is nothing in the budget that would have saved those businesses.”


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