ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association today (April 4th) acknowledges the fall in the unemployment rate, but highlights its concern at the rising commercial rates in the SME sector. These charges are impacting potential employment growth. However, net migration by young people (15-44 years) and the fact that the Census figures state our population is 90,000 persons higher than annual estimates, mean we are not adding enough jobs for the right people in the economy.
The CSO figures confirm 141,400 people are still signing on and the standardised unemployment rate is at 6.4% for March, while youth unemployment is at 13.9%.
Commenting on today’s figures ISME CEO, Neil McDonnell said “Today’s unemployment rate could be bettered if the issue of commercial rates was tackled. A growing population requires more jobs. Excessive rate rises for small business are hurting the sector, particularly in rural Ireland. From small retailers, to pubs and small manufacturers, we have heard concerns from many members about the rises in rates. Coming at a time when large businesses are getting rates reductions, this is very hard for small firms to bear.”
“The current valuations system is not fit for purpose. We understood from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government that most rates would decrease. We understand from a recent meeting of SMEs in Kildare that the vast majority of rates will increase. The proposed rates increases on small businesses are disproportionate and will stymie employment growth.
“Many small businesses are struggling to meet their overheads. These rates increases add to the problem, and undermine our members’ ability to return more people to gainful employment.”