Loose talk and populist campaigns causing uncertainty.
Budget 2016 must address business cost issues.
Long-term unemployed still a concern.
While welcoming the slight decrease in the Live Register figures from the CSO today (3rd September), ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, warned Government that job growth figures would remain slow unless costs were curtailed and a more business friendly attitude was evident from the relevant ministers. The Association drew attention to the national competitiveness issue which is not improving, despite favorable external forces, because of the lack of effort on state influenced business costs.
Because of the cost uncertainty, job growth is stalling, with 341,400 people still signing on the dole, of which long-term claimants still account for 45.7%. In addition there are almost 70,000 availing of activation programmes, bringing the total unemployed to above 400,000.
Commenting on the figures, ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, said, “The recovery in the economy has stalled somewhat, from a jobs perspective. This is due to the threat of unsustainable wage expectations being encouraged by the public sector cave-in and minimum wage increases. Added to this is the campaign for the Utopian ‘living wage’ being conducted by the junior minister for business and employment. SME owner managers will not take the risk of adding to their workforce with the prospect of continuous, and unrealistic, increases in wages”.
“Budget 2016 must focus on creating the conditions necessary for job growth. It must restore confidence to SMEs, who currently feel that the Government is out of touch with business realities, particularly on costs. Much more can be done on the reduction of business costs, rather than populist campaigns on the unsustainable ‘living wage’, aimed at re-election rather than recovery.”
The Association called on the Government to:
Concentrate more on the real business agenda.
Reduce government influenced business costs to below the EU average.
Outsource more state sector services to SMEs.
Reform the social welfare system to make it more profitable to work.
Expand the export capacity of the SME sector through soft supports.
Attack the scourge of ever-increasing black economy activity.
Ensure real measurable access to credit for viable SMEs.
“ISME has been warning of an imminent slow-down in job creation for many months. Unfortunately, Government, not alone did not take action to avoid this but have exacerbated the situation through election give-away promises. We need Government to stop the loose talk, listen to business owners and help them create a sustainable business environment to secure Ireland’s long-term economic success,” concluded Fielding.