‘Year for Jobs’ must focus on reducing business costs.
Social Welfare trap preventing employment growth.
At the release of the latest Live Register figures today (5th March), ISME, Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, welcomed the slight drop in the seasonally adjusted figures from 12% in January to 11.9% in February. However, the Association cautioned the Government against complacency and warned that business costs must be reduced if substantial employment gains are to be made and maintained.
The seasonally adjusted Live Register figure currently stands at 11.9%. There are now 398,300 people signing on the dole, a reduction of 2,500 in the month. Long-term claimants still account for 45.3% of the total.
Mark Fielding, ISME CEO, commented, “Jobs growth is happening but at a slow pace. Government rhetoric labelling this the ‘year for jobs’ must be matched by a comprehensive overview of business costs so that Irish SMEs, the job creators in this economy, can afford to increase their staff numbers as necessary. A more competitive business environment would go a long way towards helping economic recovery.”
“Issues such as the high percentage of long-term unemployed persons and those caught in a social welfare trap continue to be key concerns. Social welfare anomalies make it too expensive for many SMEs to fill part-time and entry level roles and prevent recipients from gaining valuable work experience. Government must overhaul the system to make sure it is always worthwhile for people to work.”
The Association called on the Government to:
Focus on cost-competitiveness related to our international competitors.
A total overhaul the social welfare system to make it worthwhile for people to work.
Increase job-rich infrastructure investment.
Attack the scourge of ever-increasing black-market activity.
Address the lack of bank credit for productive SMEs.
He concluded, “The Action Plan for Jobs 2014 and the preceding Medium-Term Economic Strategy are good road maps for recovery and progress. However, Government must help business owners to expand their businesses by helping them to reduce costs.”