January 15, 2024
State supports for vulnerable but viable businesses must be forthcoming – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on enterprise, trade, and employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, said time-limited state supports for vulnerable but viable businesses must be forthcoming to help firms in the face of an escalating cost-of-business crisis.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“There is no doubt that these are testing times for workers and businesses alike.

“Analysis from Deloitte Ireland revealed that corporate insolvencies reached the highest level in five years after 25% rise in 2023. Of the 663 insolvencies last year, hospitality and construction saw a 62% increase, showing that inflation is having a particularly potent impact on these sectors.

“Sinn Féin are particularly aware of the cost-of-business storm that has been brewing for SMEs, in addition, we are also cognisant that warehoused tax liabilities due to be repaid from 1st May will put further pressure on firms.

“It is for these reasons that we have long called for a bespoke strategy to tackle such pain points for SMEs.

“For some time now we have been calling for underspent Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) funding to be made available for struggling businesses, and for repayment of warehoused tax liabilities to de carried out in a manner that ensures all monies owed are repaid, but that does not push companies to the brink.

“TBESS funding was earmarked to support business in Budget 2023, but the scheme was a failure only expending 11.5% of its €1.3 billion budget. Sinn Féin, like many in the business community, had hoped the over €1 billion underspend would be reprofiled and redistributed to struggling SMEs.

“While the government’s €250m Increased Cost of Business Scheme (ICOB) announced in Budget 2024 is welcome, and its structure eagerly anticipated, this scheme is inevitably being funded from the TBESS underspend.

“The frustration for Sinn Féin and SMEs is that when TBESS and ICOB spend are subtracted from the overall TBESS underspend, nearly €900 million in funding that was earmarked to support struggling business has been returned to the exchequer.

“Sinn Féin agree with business groups that this is an unacceptable situation, and we have called on the Minister to explain to SMEs how government can make this decision at a time when insolvencies are at their highest level in five years.

“Sinn Féin believe that funding should be made available to vulnerable but viable businesses who have a clean bill of health with Revenue and the Workplace Relations Commission.

“Furthermore, the government must also give clarity to SMEs that Revenue will be flexible in terms of recovering warehoused tax liabilities and will not pursue repayment in a manner which drives firms towards administrative or insolvency.

“The time to support businesses is now, before struggling companies are driven to the brink, and businesses and jobs which can be saved are lost.”

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