11/03/2004

Treasury insurance meeting 'positive' say FSB

The Federation of Small Businesses have described a meeting with the Treasury on the growing insurance crisis faced by small businesses as a "positive first step".

Organised by local MP Roy Beggs the FSB delegation meeting with Financial Secretary to the Treasury Ruth Kelly was held at the Treasury Offices in London on Tuesday.

Following the meeting FSB NI Policy Chairman Wilfred Mitchell said: “This meeting was a positive step forward and the Minister did make very clear that we had put a good case and that she would be in touch very soon on the proposals that we put to the Treasury.

“One of the proposals we put to her was the need for the Treasury to put more pressure on the Insurance Industry to do more businesses in Northern Ireland and to provide affordable premiums for Northern Ireland SME’s. We only have a handful of underwriters in Northern Ireland who are not providing the choice of affordable premiums, which small businesses need to trade. The Insurance market must be expanded in Northern Ireland.

“Given that the Treasury grant the licences to Insurance Underwriters for them to trade, they clearly have an influence over the Industry.”

Mr Mitchell said it was unfair that Northern Ireland Small Businesses should have to pay the highest insurance premiums in the UK: "This crisis is causing job losses, business failures and is clearly affecting Northern Ireland industry competitiveness.

“Our bottom line to the Treasury is that we want a level playing field for all small businesses across the UK and that they should put pressure on the Insurance Industry to end their disgraceful treatment of Northern Ireland Small Businesses.”

(SP)

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