The past two weeks have been a very busy period of lobbying as we met with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure Reform Michael McGrath, and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Our focus: managing our way out of Covid and restoring competitiveness and growth whilst dealing with the growing challenges of internationalisation, digitalisation and decarbonization.
At our meetings, we pressed for a dramatic increase in public housing construction and associated infrastructure as part of a national strategy to revive Dublin following the impact of Covid-19. We stated that businesses lack confidence in the future development of the city and proposed that a clear long-term strategy be put in place. Our Q2 Business Outlook Survey, published this week, highlights that three quarters of all members viewed “accommodating the city’s growing population with affordable housing” as the most significant threat to future competitiveness.
In our meeting with the Tánaiste, we discussed the pressures on the finances of many SMEs and the need to improve linkages between domestic and foreign owned firms. We restated our Budget proposals for a reduction in CGT for unquoted companies to 20%, Our next round of member focus groups, to which you can sign up below, will inform our next move as we continue to influence Government thinking.
The Tánaiste has advised this week that a new Return to Work Safely Protocol will be launched before the end of July, and with business premises reopening, Dublin Chamber is keeping a close eye on local developments. Earlier this week we met with the Garda Assistant Commissioner for Dublin to highlight business concerns around safety and security, and stressed the need for Garda visibility. Meanwhile, with the commercial rates waiver due to expire in September, we will be calling on local authorities in Dublin to budget sensibly as they make their annual decisions on Local Property Tax.
You can find out more about recent developments below and can check out our recent submissionshere. Please share your feedback by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
PwC has published its 2022 Pre-Budget Submission for the Irish Private Business and SME sector ‘Recovery and Renewal - Supporting private business and SMEs in Budget 2022’. Developed in conjunction with the Family Business Network, the Submission focuses on new and innovative tax initiatives and other measures to support home-grown Irish private businesses through the next stage of Recovery and Renewal as the country emerges with a new sense of confidence and hope.
Q2 Business Survey: Housing top challenge for 71% of firms
Housing is now the biggest challenge facing businesses in the Greater Dublin Area, with more than 7 in 10 businesses (71%) reporting it among their top three concerns in a recent Dublin Chamber survey.
In Dublin Chamber’s latestBusiness Outlook Survey(Q2 2021) carried out amongst more than 300 companies and focusing on the Future of Cities, businesses were asked to identify the top three biggest challenges facing Dublin from a business perspective other than Covid-19.
The top three concerns were:
Accommodating the city’s growing population with affordable housing (71%)
Traffic congestion (50%)
Lack of city infrastructure (41%)
These concerns were echoed in the survey when Dublin Chamber asked businesses to identify which policy areas will have the greatest positive and negative impact on cities in the coming decade. City planning and infrastructure was identified by businesses as having both the greatest positive impact at 35% and the potential greatest negative impact at 36%.
Speaking as the results were released, the Chamber’s Director of Public & International Affairs Aebhric Mc Gibney said: “What is clear from these survey results is that what we are identifying as enterprise issues and areas of significant concern for businesses are not the traditional businesses issues. Businesses are increasingly concerned with the very make-up and fabric of the city and how it is being developed. If Dublin is to maintain its international competitiveness, and its reputation as a great place to live, study, visit and work, then it needs to tackle the housing and infrastructure challenges head on.”
He continued: “As the policy conversation shifts from re-opening to recovery, we need to have a clear long-term strategy and plan in place for the future of our cities, and specifically for our city centres. Businesses clearly lack confidence in relation to the future development of the city, with many seeing City planning and infrastructure having almost an equal potential to have a positive and negative impact on the city. Policy makers, both local and national need to work harder to ensure the right policy approach when dealing with emerging and quickly changing policy trends.”
The Q2 Business Outlook Survey also contains summaries of the issues highlighted at Dublin Chamber focus groups in the last quarter.
Priorities & Preliminary Recommendations for Budget 2022
Dublin Chamber has made a preliminary submission to Government ahead of Budget 2022. Based on feedback from the across the business community, Dublin Chamber has identified the following four strategic priorities.
First, the Government should maintain and adapt business supports to manage the transition out of the pandemic while maximising business survival rates and minimising long-term economic scarring. Second, it must develop a national strategy for the recovery of urban Ireland, with a focus on delivering housing at appropriate densities and sustainable infrastructure to support this. Third, it should adopt ambitious measure to boost investment in Irish enterprise and increase national competitiveness as a location for entrepreneurs. Finally, the Government should accelerate the transition to a sustainable and innovative economic model that will form the basis of prosperity in a rapidly changing world.
Dublin Chamber’s preliminary recommendations in support of each of these goals at this stage in the budgetary cycle are:
Maintain Covid-19 business supports until a summary rescue process is in place for small firms in difficulty.
Dublin Chamber is urging Government to enact and commence the legislation for the ‘examinership lite’ Small Companies Administrative Rescue Process (SCARP) before the Covid-19 business support architecture is withdrawn. The commencement of the legislation should be accompanied with a targeted communications campaign to explain the rescue process to qualifying companies, bearing in mind that many time-pressed business owners who have been impacted by the pandemic will be unaware of the new system and may have limited knowledge of the examinership process in general.
Double public capital investment in housing, targeted in urban areas to deliver appropriate accommodation and ease pressure on the private market.
Dublin Chamber has called on the Government to double public capital investment in housing, targeted in urban areas to deliver appropriate accommodation and ease pressure on the private market. The availability and affordability of accommodation remains the most immediate threat to cost competitiveness in the Greater Dublin Area. Businesses need decisive action to address the crisis through construction of purpose-built affordable homes in a large scale in Dublin and other cities.
Introduce a 20% Capital Gains Tax rate on disposals of investments in SMEs to boost investment in Irish enterprise.
Dublin Chamber has long made the case for an improved environment for equity investment in Irish SMEs. Ireland’s present CGT regime effectively incentivises passive investment in ‘blue chip’ foreign firms over investment in higher-risk domestic enterprises by applying a flat 33% CGT rate, one of the highest in Europe, irrespective of risk profile or the contribution of the underlying investment to the Irish economy. To address this, Dublin Chamber supports a 20% rate of CGT on investments in unquoted trading companies where shares have been held in excess of 3 years.
Introduce a ‘Going Green’ Tax Credit to encourage adoption of sustainable business practices, accelerating the carbon tax timeline if needs require.
The Government should consider a tax credit for businesses that have undertaken and completed three items from an approved list, or ‘Sustainable Business Register’, to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or otherwise improve sustainability. Items could for example include: facilitation of remote and flexible working; retrofit and energy efficiency measures; green supply chain guarantees; waste management practices; circular economy measures; and adoption of low emissions transport. The credit would be linked to the costs incurred in completing these items, and would be modelled on the R&D tax credit, calculated at 30% of qualifying expenditure.
You can read Dublin Chamber’s submission in full hereand we would welcome further feedback over the coming months.
Focus Group on Dublin Regional Enterprise Plan
Dublin Chamber met the Tánaiste recently to discuss an enterprise plan for the Dublin region to 2024. The challenges facing the Dublin region are great. New initiatives are required to help firms meet the challenges of climate action, digitalisation, the impacts of Brexit and Covid-19.
We are now delighted to partner with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to host an online focus group at which businesses can share their input and feed into the upcoming strategy.
This focus group will be held online at 12pm on Wednesday 14th July. It will last approximately 60 minutes and we hope to have a robust exchange of views and sharing of experiences. Places will be filled on a first come first served basis and will be limited to one representative per member company.
We hope that you will be available to share your business insights and contribute to the development of Government policy in this area.
Discussion will be based on your individual input and broadly framed across the following themes:
What Government assistance does your firm need to remain relevant in an ever more competitive global market? What are the key threats to your business and how can Government help your firm innovate in order to respond to these challenges? What strengths/opportunities does Dublin have to build on?
All firms will need to prepare their business for lower carbon emissions and more digitalisation. What are the opportunities and threats facing your firm in the context of increased digitalisation and decarbonisation? What are the opportunities and threats facing Dublin in the context of increased digitalisation and decarbonisation?
The long-awaited new tariff framework for commercial water users is now due to go live on 1 October 2021. Irish Water will be issuing letters to customers explaining the impacts of the changes in the coming weeks. The decision to confirm the new date for implementation was taken by its regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).
The changes were originally due to kick in on 1 May 2020. Following Dublin Chamber representations on behalf of businesses, they were deferred to 1 May 2021 and again to 1 October 2021 due to the considerable uncertainty for businesses under the essential Government public health guidelines due to COVID-19.
Irish Water has welcomed the CRU’s decision as providing certainty for businesses and has committed to write to all business customers in the coming weeks outlining what the changes will mean in practice.
Currently there are over 500 different tariffs, with customers in different local authority areas paying different charges. The new framework will standardise charges across the country while recovering the cost of providing water and wastewater services to non-domestic customers. The vast majority of customers will see either a decrease or an increase of less than €250 per annum, in their annual bills.
For the minority of customers who will face larger increases in their annual bill, Irish Water will put in place a number of important support measures. Connections that see an increase of €250 or more will be gradually transitioned to the new tariffs over three years. For connections that will face an increase of €750 or more, we will automatically apply a 10% cap to their annual bill increase in any one year.
Irish Water is encouraging businesses to visit www.water.ie where they can assess the impact of the new charges on their future bills using Irish Water’s online calculator tool available on water.ie.
Further information is also available online including a detailed Q&A and case studies. Customers who may be experiencing billing or payment difficulties can contact Irish Water’s dedicated business team on 0818 778 778.
Remote Working Checklist for Employers
The Tánaiste recently announced an updated Remote Working Checklist for Employers to provide them with a quick way to navigate the adoption of remote working arrangements going forward. It covers key areas of consideration for remote working based on official guidance. You can access the checklist here. And for further information, visit Guidance for Working Remotely.
Future of Ireland’s Electricity System
Dublin Chamber has made asubmission on Ireland’s Future Electricity System in response to an Eirgrid report detailing innovative approaches to developing the grid in order to meet ambitious 2030 renewable energy targets.
In a national consultation launched by Minister Eamon Ryan earlier this year, Eirgrid invited feedback on different possible approaches to delivery of renewable electricity infrastructure over the coming decade. Dublin Chamber has argued for a blended model, but one in which the Generation led approach would have a dominant role. The Chamber argues that a dominant role for Generation led development of the electricity system is the best option to ensure timely delivery, which is necessary for achievement of climate action goals, energy security, and avoidance of cost overruns. You can read the full submission on our submissions page.
Progressing the Circular Economy
Sustainability is at the core of Dublin Chamber’s agenda, and we are continuing to make the case for progress towards a circular economy at Government level. In a recent submission to the Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications on the Proposed Whole of Government Strategy for a Circular Economy, the Chamber makes the case for closer Government engagement with businesses, and provides feedback on a range of questions about Ireland’s journey towards greater sustainability.
If your business wants to make progress on its own sustainability journey, a great place to start is Dublin Chamber’s Sustainability Academy. Launched in response to business demand, the Academy offers participating businesses a comprehensive range of supports including: training workshops, access to a dedicated series of sustainability events; green public procurement training; access to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP Ireland); support materials; and peer-to-peer idea sharing opportunities. Find out more about the Sustainability Academy here.