ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has published the results of its latest Government Satisfaction Survey* today (29th December) for the final quarter of 2015. The results show that SMEs overall satisfaction with the Government performance is at its highest since the survey commenced in 2012, however Business costs and the Government’s dealing with the Banks continues to drag the ratings.
ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, commented on the results, “External factors continue to assist the economy and the growth rate reflects this. Favourable exchange rate with and growth in our major export countries and low oil prices have given us a boost as we come out of the recession. While we can benefit from these factors, they are completely outside of our control. The factors within our control, business costs and access to finance, need much more work by Government and, if not addressed, will cause untold damage as the economic cycle unfolds”.
The survey was conducted in the third week of December, with 956 SME respondents. 54% of whom employ less than 10, while a further 36% employ between 11 and 50 and the remaining 10% employ between 51 and 250. Geographically, 32% are from Dublin with 59% spread across the country, with 9% with multiple sites, giving a good reflection of the country as a whole, sectorally, geographically and by employee numbers.
COMBINED RATING (+2 to +11)
The overall satisfaction rating increased nine points from +2 to +11. The larger the enterprise the more positive the satisfaction ratings; Micro businesses are the least satisfied at +3, small businesses came in at +16, while medium sized businesses are quite satisfied at +38. Services are the least satisfied sector at +4 while Distribution is the most satisfied at +28. Hospitality is at a +33 satisfaction level and Construction are at +13.
JOBS RATING (+9 to +22)
There is a large increase in satisfaction ratings with the Government’s handling of the jobs situation, giving the highest score since the beginning of the survey in 2012. The rating has gone from +9 to +22. This reflects the slow but steady decline in numbers on the live register and the positive press announcements. However the Micro businesses here again are least satisfied at +13, with Distribution and Manufacturing at +30 and +31.
BANKING (-47 to -48)
The banking score has decreased slightly from -47 to -48. SME access to finance had been improving but an increase in declines has been noted in recent months. Not surprisingly the micro businesses are most dissatisfied at -58, with Manufacturing and Hospitality scoring -52 and -50 respectively. This is an area that will need careful monitoring by Government to ensure that credit is flowing appropriately to SMEs.
ECONOMY (+10 to +18)
This question examines how satisfied SMEs are with the Government’s handling of the economy. The +18 rating shows very high levels of satisfaction and reflects the improvements seen in the economy during 2015. This is the highest since the survey began in 2012.
BUSINESS COSTS (-47 to -52)
The worst performing indicator and by far the most important for SMEs, Business costs indicator still continues to be the highest rated reason for dissatisfaction with the current administration. The negative scores are consistent across the various sectors with Construction and Hospitality the highest at -63 and -67. The issue of high business costs is a key concern for ISME members. The Association is concerned that Ireland is rapidly losing its competitive edge and we have continuously called on Government to conduct a review of all business costs to bring them into line with our main export competitors.
“Business costs must be reduced and Government must focus on this area if we are to regain our competitiveness. The recent pre-election promises are causing consternation among the business community who will bear the brunt of these costs. Jobs will not be created when costs are rising and bank credit is difficult to access”, concluded Fielding.