May 13, 2024
Government pitting businesses against each other and against workers – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said the government are now kite-flying changes to reissue the underspend of the Increased Cost of Business (ICOB) Scheme to help some businesses, but not others, in a way which could pit SMEs against each other.

The Fingal TD also said that additional plans to slow the move to a living wage and pause the sick pay scheme were a targeted ideological attack on workers.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Businesses are struggling with a cost-of-doing business crisis and workers are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis – both need to be supported in tandem. Unfortunately, instead of helping both, the government are developing plans which will pit business against business, and business against workers.

“It has been clear for some time that supports for business must be forthcoming, and for nearly a year now Sinn Féin has called for government to engage with industry to design a bespoke, but time limited, support for those sectors most impacted by public policy interventions.

“However, we have also been clear that support for business cannot be, as is being reported in the media today, at the expense of workers’ rights. Sinn Féin believes there is no reason why business and workers cannot be supported in tandem.

“The government are now kite-flying changes which would pit businesses against each other with draft proposals to use leftover funding from the ICOB scheme for a new support scheme. This is unfair for several reasons – the ICOB scheme was bungled from the get-go, with the nature of the scheme, qualifying criteria, and grant rate changing on a number of occasions since budget day last October.

“As a result, only 50 percent of qualifying businesses were able to apply for the scheme, with many firms stating they were never informed by their local authority about the scheme, were not aware of the scheme, or did not know whether they qualified.

“It was for that reason I wrote to the Minister for Enterprise, Peter Burke TD, and asked that he reopen the scheme, extend the application deadline, and that government and local authorities engage in a comprehensive communications strategy aimed at the SME community to encourage take-up.

“Under the government’s kite-flying a business who missed the deadline for ICOB, and doesn’t qualify for the leaked new scheme, could see their neighbour get two €5,000 grants through the two schemes while they get nothing. This is unfair and will pit businesses against each other.

“The ICOB scheme should be reopened, and government should immediately engage with industry to design a separate bespoke, but time limited, support scheme for those sectors most impacted by public policy interventions and the cost-of-business crisis.”

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