ISME: Cost competitiveness vital for SME growth and job creation

11th July 2016

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) has called on the Government to prioritise cost competitiveness to enable small firms to plan for growth and job creation amid the outcome of the EU referendum.

As part of its release of the latest CSO Live Register figures, ISME demanded that a dedicated unit within the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation be set up to co-ordinate the various strands of activity to counter the potential effects of the Brexit vote.

ISME welcomed the reduction of 40,637 on the Live Register in the year to June 2016; highlighting the monthly increase of 3,334 in the long-term unemployed which now stands at 143,832.

Mark Fielding, CEO, ISME, said: “In the aftermath of the Brexit vote it is essential that Government take firm action to address cost competitiveness, access to finance and late payments.

“By taking this action, Government will be contributing directly to the viability of small businesses and job creation.”

The Association reiterated its advice to employers to stand firm on wage claims, calling for:

  • A full benchmark and overhaul of all government influenced business costs with a target of a reduction to below the EU average for all within a year.

  • A full review of labour market inhibitors, including social welfare constraints and black economy.

  • Introduce new and improved existing activation schemes in conjunction with employers.

  • The implementation of a further reduction in state assistance for those who refuse job offers.

  • Increase job-rich infrastructure investment.

  • Ensure real measurable access to affordable credit for viable SMEs.

  • Outsource more state sector services to SMEs.

  • A greater training incentive for small business to compensate for the cost of on-the-job training.

“If both Government and its agencies are clear in their ambition to address the Brexit issue and create jobs, then they must do everything to reduce the cost of doing business. When employment costs rise SMEs are less likely to take on new staff,” added Fielding.

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