Seanad Calls for Irish Government to Offer More Support for Irish SMEs
The Seanad in recent days has called upon the Irish government to introduce additional supports for Irish SME’s. There are three classifications that compromise the SME sector: micro enterprises, small enterprises and medium enterprises.
A micro enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 10 employees and has either an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding €2 million; a small enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 50 employees and has either annual turnover and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €10 million and a medium enterprise is defined as an enterprise that has between 50 employees and 249 employees and has either an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.
The supports recommended by the Seanad will impact all of the aforementioned enterprises. Such supports include further entrepreneurial education in primary schools, specific supports for female entrepreneurs and the introduction of a new junior ministerial role to represent SME’s. The new ministerial position will enable the shaping of SME policy and help to foster the growth of small businesses in traditional sectors. It is hoped that exposing primary school students to entrepreneurship will lead to more economic activity and similarly, that new supports for female entrepreneurs boosts female leadership.
The Seanad found that typical SME concerns included rising business costs most notably the costs of rent, insurance and rates, competitive recruitment, Brexit uncertainty and continuous delays in the roll out of the national broadband plan. Ireland’s tax system was also highlighted as a difficulty with CGT rates significantly higher for SMEs in Ireland than in the UK and other jurisdictions. The EIS scheme for investment into early stage business is also less attractive in Ireland than the UK equivalent.
The EU and US rarely see eye to eye on matters of trade and commerce, but both see SME’s as the backbone of their respective economies, meaning SME’s are the cornerstone of commerce across the globe not just Ireland. Having said this however, the role of SME’s in Ireland is particularly important given that 99.8% of business activities in Ireland are represented by SME’s. This translates to 238,000 businesses, employing more than 1.3 million workers in Ireland, almost half of the entire Irish workforce. SME’s are therefore the main source of jobs in the Irish economy, thus, the new Seanad recommendations are a welcomed proposition and it is hoped that the recommendations can positively impact the Irish business landscape creating conditions that allow Irish SME’s to flourish.