Government's dealing with banks scores joint lowest at minus 47.
Some satisfaction in Economy & Jobs score, reflecting improved conditions.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has released the results of its latest Government Satisfaction Survey today (16th October), showing that SMEs are slightly less satisfied overall with Government performance in Q3. While the overall satisfaction rating has improved by 60 points to +2 in the three years since autumn 2012, the two areas of most dissatisfaction are Banking and Costs at minus 47 each.
In the past three years the Government has improved by 75 on Jobs but by only 26 on Banking Issues and 29 on Business Costs. It is also evident that Government action is not meeting with the approval of micro businesses, the largest grouping, who scored an overall -3 again in this quarter (no change in 2015). The larger the business the more satisfaction increases, as evident by a score of +36 for medium enterprises.
The survey was conducted in the two weeks prior to the Budget, with 1,060 SME respondents. 61% employ less than 10, while a further 33% employ between 11 and 50 and the remaining 6% employ between 51 and 250.
ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, commented on the results, "The economy is slowly recovering and businesses are hopefully exiting crisis mode and beginning to look towards growth and expansion. However, the feeling is that Government is not assisting them adequately, particularly in relation to business costs. If the current regime is to be re-elected next spring they will have to do a lot more to persuade SME owner-managers that they are capable of pursuing a pro-business agenda".
"These satisfaction figures capture the mood of SME owner-managers before Budget 2016 was announced. The budget offered some assistance to hard-pressed entrepreneurs and made a first step towards addressing the self-employed tax discrimination. However, little was done to combat competitiveness issues and the increase in the minimum wage will actually further decrease our competitiveness in 2016."
COMBINED RATING (+4 to +2)
The overall satisfaction rating decreased from +4 to +2. This slight drop should be heeded by Government as a warning that SMEs are concerned about their performance. The positive satisfaction ratings increase, the larger the enterprise, with Micro businesses the least satisfied at minus 3, small businesses came in at +5, while medium sized businesses are quite satisfied at +36. Hospitality are the least satisfied sector at -20, Retailers dropped to a -7 satisfaction level and Distribution are at 0, while Construction is the most satisfied at +14.
JOBS RATING (+9- unchanged)
There has been no change in the +9 rating for satisfaction relating to the Government's handling of the jobs situation. This reflects the slowdown in job creation that we have seen in recent months. The Hospitality sector is particularly concerned with Government performance in this area with a rating of -22%. This sector will be particularly hard hit by the planned increase in the minimum wage so their dissatisfaction is, in the main, related to this.
BANKING (-48 to -47)
The banking score has increased from -48 to -47. SME access to finance is improving with the advent of the SBCI but the delays in decision making by banks continues to be an issue for SMEs. Micro businesses are particularly concerned with accessing finance and gave a -54 rating in this area, compared with medium business where the rating is -7.
ECONOMY (+11 to +10)
This question examines how satisfied SMEs are with the Government's handling of the economy. The +10 rating is the highest satisfaction rating of all areas analysed despite the 1 point drop. Construction is the sector most satisfied here with a +18 rating while hospitality are the least satisfied at -11.
BUSINESS COSTS (-54 to -47)
One of the worst performing indicators and by far the most important for SMEs. This indicator has improved from -54 to -47 but still continues to be the highest rated reason for dissatisfaction with the current administration. The issue of high business costs is a key concern for ISME members who want the Government to prioritise competitiveness over their re-election prospects.
"The restoration of competitiveness through prudent cost control and the access to bank credit for SMEs must be two Government priorities. Government must remain focused on these areas and pre-election manifestos must contain clear policy plans to improve competitiveness. SME owner-managers will not base their votes on a giveaway budget- they will be looking to see who can provide the best pro-business policies in the next government agenda", concluded Fielding.