Further help for firms needed

Isme chief executive Mark Fielding

The Government has been warned that it must do more than has been set out in Budget 2016 to gain the trust of the small business community ahead of the general election.

The latest Government Satisfaction Survey from small and medium-sized enterprise lobbyist Isme, shows that the core element of Ireland’s SME community is losing faith in the current Government. 

While overall satisfaction levels are up by two points (to 60) since autumn 2012, banking and business costs are still huge concerns and micro businesses — the largest grouping of respondents — currently have a -3 measure on Government performance. 

The survey shows that the larger the company, the higher the satisfaction rating is, with medium-sized enterprises the most happy.

Last week’s budget was hailed by some as being pro-small business, with a new tax credit for the self- employed being introduced, meaning €550 will be saved from their 2016 tax bill, and significant capital gains tax relief finally coming into play for entrepreneurs.

The Isme survey, covering the third quarter of the year, was conducted in the two weeks leading up to last week’s budget, but its compilers feel not much has changed in the meantime.

“The budget offered some assistance to hard-pressed entrepreneurs and made a first step towards addressing the self-employed tax discrimination. 

"However, little was done to combat competitiveness issues and the increase in the minimum wage will actually further decrease our competitiveness in 2016,” according to Isme chief executive Mark Fielding.

“The economy is slowly recovering and businesses are hopefully exiting crisis mode and beginning to look towards growth and expansion. However, the feeling is that Government is not assisting them adequately, particularly in relation to business costs. 

If the current regime is to be re-elected next spring, they will have to do a lot more to persuade SME owner-managers that they are capable of pursuing a pro-business agenda.”

Improving access to bank credit for SMEs and lowering business costs must be pre-election manifesto priorities of Government, Isme said.

“SME owner-managers will not base their votes on a giveaway budget; they will be looking to see who can provide the best pro- business policies in the next Government agenda,” said Mr Fielding.


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