Back Local Businesses to Grow and Create Jobs


Ireland’s small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, account for 3 in every 4 jobs in private sector employment. There are about 185,000 businesses in Ireland, and SMEs account for 99% of them. While employment is on the rise, the rate of job growth for SMEs is far behind total growth. Why? Because our local businesses and self-employed aren’t getting the level of backing given to multinationals. The Social Democrats want to see Ireland’s success in foreign direct investment mirrored for local businesses and the self-employed.

There are still 190,000 people looking for jobs in Ireland, with a further potential additional workforce of 35,000. And while total unemployment has thankfully fallen below 10%, it is still nearly 20% for youth. Properly supporting Ireland’s SME sector is the greatest opportunity available to create new jobs, and in particular new jobs for Ireland’s youth.

The Social Democrats believe that Ireland’s SMEs could be supported in the creation of about 100,000 new jobs. Among the policies we would prioritise are:

REDUCING COSTS AND ADMIN:

  • Reforming the commercial rates regime to account for turnover and employment, thus lowering the rate paid by many small and medium-sized local businesses;
  • Simplifying compliance for small business and the self-employed, including review of all paperwork and removing unnecessary bureaucracy (e.g., in tax, employment, change-of-use planning and certifications);
  • Implementing a user-friendly web portal for businesses to file tax returns, employment compliance, etc., similar to the Altinn system successfully introduced in Norway.[1]
  • Tasking the Commission for Energy Regulation with ensuring lower energy costs for businesses, in light of significant falls in global oil prices.

SUPPORTING INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP:

  • Introducing new apprenticeship programmes, including advanced qualifications;
  • Improving self-employed tax credits and providing same social protections as PAYE workers on a voluntary opt-in basis;
  • Making R&D tax credits available for small businesses, ensuring simplicity of access to qualification;
  • Building a network of innovation centres to provide high quality affordable offices/incubator units for start-ups;
  • Investing in education to support innovation (see education policy);
  • Expanding mentoring programmes for small businesses and the self-employed

ENSURING CREDIT IS AVAILABLE TO SMES AND THE SELF EMPLOYED:

  • Creating a community banking sector in Ireland (see specific policy);
  • Reviewing the current programme by the Strategic Investment Bank to ensure planned additional lending is occurring, and enhancing the programme if necessary.

INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND PLANNING FOR THE LONG TERM:

  • Accelerating the roll-out of high speed affordable broadband for local businesses;
  • Significantly increasing investment in other productive infrastructure, including transport links and innovation hubs;
  • Developing regional enterprise plans to drive economic recovery outside Dublin;
  • Supporting the connection of local businesses to the supply chains of multinationals in Ireland;
  • Enhancing training for businesses in client sourcing, to include training in social media and networking.

INCREASING ACCESS TO WORK AND OTHER POLICIES FOR SMES:

  • Supporting parents and making childcare and early years education affordable;
  • Developing programmes to increase participation in senior roles of women and minority groups;
  • Instigating a Smart Cities initiative to stimulate innovation and investment in all of Ireland’s cities (see specific policy recommendations);
  • Introducing measures to improve participation of people with disabilities.

[1] In 2003 the Norwegian eGovernment system was established initially to assist corporations do their statutory reporting, and has progressed to delivering the services of 33 public agencies, including some of the municipalities. 86% of all Norwegian business used Altinn. More than 80 million forms that would have otherwise been printed were made unnecessary. 17% less hours were spent on administration. Source: www.altinn.no.

 

 

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