The monthly Live Register figures released by the CSO today (2nd February) were cautiously welcomed by ISME. The Association says that 2017 provides an opportunity for Government to address the issues facing SMEs, and citizens, such as the high cost of living.
While acknowledging the reduction of 13.9% on the Live Register in the year to January, the Association highlights its concern at the 119,263 long term unemployed, which now stands at 43%.
ISME, CEO, Neil McDonnell said “Ireland is a high cost country compared to our closest neighbours. With the exception of London, it costs more to live in Dublin than Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow or Cardiff. Rents in Belfast are 58% lower than Dublin, 49% and 36% lower in Cardiff and Edinburgh respectively”.
The Association called on Government to:
Reduce government influenced business costs to below the EU average.
Target capital investment in job rich infrastructure.
Outsource more state sector services to SMEs and introduce social considerations to public procurement
Reform the social welfare system to make it more profitable to work, and avoid poverty traps.
“Our latest trends research shows 22% of our members have experienced inflationary pressures, for example a 6% increase in rents. 30% have experienced increases to their transport costs. The Government needs to reduce state-influenced costs and provide an environment conducive to growing the SME sector in 2017