At the release of the latest Live Register figures today (30th July), ISME, Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, criticised the Government’s efforts to increase employment figures and called on the new cabinet to match rhetoric with action by improving the high cost base borne by SMEs.
The seasonally adjusted Live Register figure currently stands at 11.5%. There are now 382,200 people signing on the dole, a reduction of 3,400 in the month. Long-term claimants account for 46.6% of the total.
Mark Fielding, ISME CEO, commented, “The latest Central Bank forecast for 2014 unemployment is predicting a modest decline in the live register to 11.4% this year. This will mean that growth for 2014, the Governments well-publicised ‘year for jobs’, will have been slower than 2013. This slow growth is unsurprising given the lack of Government intervention in the area. The current administration’s refusal to tackle areas such as the social welfare trap and high business costs is severely restricting growth potential. Their lacklustre approach to labour force activation leaves much to be desired.”
“Improving competitiveness is key to resolving the jobs crisis and this must be the main priority of Government. High transport, utility, rent and rates bills are smothering SMEs and continued ambiguity about future taxes and charges is leading to a cautious approach to new recruitment in SMEs.”
The Association called on the Government to:
Focus on cost-competitiveness related to our international competitors.
Hold fast on public sector wage demands.
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.
“There is an opportunity in Budget 2015 to do more than simply distribute funds and set tax rates. There is a chance to introduce effective stimulus measures to give the economy the kick-start it needs and to create a business environment that assists, rather than hinders, SMEs”, concluded Fielding.