Welcome to this issue of Dublin Chamber Weekly, sponsored by PWC. Throughout the summer Dublin Chamber is continuing to lobby on a wide range of policy issues important to businesses across the Dublin region, highlighting immediate challenges while also keeping a focus on the long-term strategic questions facing the economy.
Further to our recent meetings with the Tánaiste and other Ministers, Dublin Chamber has made a submission to Taoiseach Micheál Martin outlining business concerns in relation to a number of areas on which the Government has sought our input, including Covid-19 supports, enterprise policy, future skills, sustainability, housing, and the urban agenda. Since then, we have been engaging with senior Government officials in numerous Departments to make the case for specific changes.
This week we also launched our pre-budget submission, calling for a doubling of housing investment as part of an expanded National Development Plan; a new 20% rate of Capital Gains Tax for investments in SMEs; a new tax credit for green business practices; and a gradual and well-publicised withdrawal of Covid-19 supports to allow businesses to plan their finances. The full submission and further details are available for you to read below.
In the context of growing business concern about housing combined with inflation in the construction sector, the news that the Government is considering implementation of certain recommendations from the Kenny Report is particularly welcome. This follows a concerted effort by Dublin Chamber in recent months, highlighting the need to ensure efficient treatment of developable land.
Meanwhile, the commercial rates waiver remains scheduled to expire in September. And while we are making the case for an extension of this support, we are also engaging with local authorities, encouraging Councillors to manage their budgets in order to avoid commercial rates increases next year.
You can find out more about recent developments below and can check out our recent submissions here. As always, please share your feedback with us by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aebhric Mc Gibney
Director of Public & International Affairs
Pre-Budget Submission 2022
Dublin Chamber launched its submission on Budget 2022this week, calling on Government to double public investment in the construction of new homes next year, and to introduce a new lower tax rate on investments in Irish SMEs to boost business growth. Based on business feedback in recent months, the Chamber identified four strategic priorities: adapt and extend business supports, deliver a strategy to renew Dublin and Ireland cities, reward Irish enterprise, and to support green and digital transformation.
While it outlines a wide range of proposed measures under these headings, the Chamber’s priority recommendations in this year’s submission are:
Double public capital investment in housing, targeted in urban areas to deliver appropriate accommodation and ease pressure on the private market.
Introduce a 20% Capital Gains Tax rate on disposals of investments in SMEs to boost investment in Irish enterprise.
Introduce a ‘Going Green’ Tax Credit to encourage adoption of sustainable business practices, accelerating the carbon tax timeline if need so requires.
Continue a gradual withdrawal of the EWSS and other supports for SMEs with a schedule of reductions to allow for financial planning.
Speaking as Dublin Chamber’s pre-budget submission was launched, Dublin Chamber CEO Mary Rose Burke said: “Housing is now the top concern for 71% of businesses in Dublin. The availability and affordability of housing remains the most immediate threat to cost competitiveness in the Greater Dublin Area. This also poses a challenge to maintaining our FDI competitiveness in the future. We are calling on the Government to double public capital investment in housing, targeted in urban areas to deliver accommodation at appropriate densities and ease pressure on the private market.”
“To tackle the housing crisis, the State needs to play a central role rather than a merely supplementary one. Social housing policy needs to shift definitively from reliance on acquisition and rental support to the construction of purpose-built affordable homes on a large scale. The Government should take advantage of the positive borrowing environment and double investment in housing to €4 billion in 2022.” Mary Rose Burke said.
The Chamber’s intervention on housing follows similar advice from the ESRI earlier this summer, and recent Dublin Chamber survey results showing that housing, infrastructure, and traffic congestion rank as the top three concerns for Dublin businesses other than Covid-19.
Lower Tax Rate Recommended for SME Investments
Dublin Chamber has also advised the Government to introduce a new 20% rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on investments in small and medium enterprises. It said that growing Ireland’s indigenous business base will require greater investment in SMEs, but that our present tax regime incentivises investment in larger corporations which are considered a safer bet.
Mary Rose Burke said: “Ireland’s CGT rate is the third-highest in Europe at 33%. It makes no distinction between high-risk investment in an Irish start-up and passive investment in a ‘blue chip’ firm. Effectively, there is a disincentive when it comes to investing in a less established company. We need to reverse this dynamic. If we want to grow our indigenous enterprise base, we need to reward those who take a risk on a new Irish business."
Dublin Chamber's pre-budget submission also calls for the introduction of a 'Going Green' tax credit, modelled on the R&D tax credit, to encourage the adoption of sustainable business practices. Suggested qualifying practices include retrofit and energy efficiency measures; waste management practices; circular economy measures; and the adoption of low-emissions transport.
Fáilte Ireland has published updated general guidance to assist the reopening of indoor hospitality, which you can read here. There are also updated sector-specific guidance which you can access here, including operational guidelines for restaurants and cafes, pubs, hotels and guesthouses, visitor attractions, and other venues.
Meanwhile Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister Catherine Martin have reiterated that reiterated that both the Digital COVID Certificate and the HSE Vaccination Card are acceptable proofs of immunity. They are urging businesses and customers alike to fully engage with the Fáilte Ireland guidelines that set out how this reopening can happen safely. Customers are also reminded that, in addition to presenting a proof of immunity, they may also be asked to present a photo ID to show that the proof of immunity relates to them.
You can click here for general Government information on reopening hospitality.
The Attorney General recently confirmed that regulations provide for organised outdoor events and gatherings up to 200 people, including social, recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment or community events. Further updates will be made to the guidelines to ensure that people have clarity about how organised outdoor events may operate in the future.
For an up-to-date guide to the public health measures in place right now, click here.
Updated Remote Working Checklist
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has updated the Remote Working Checklist for Employers. The new update includes the introduction of a new section on remote work culture. This section outlines the key considerations required for those enterprises adopting remote working models. The checklist also highlights the new guidance published by Enterprise Ireland in this area.
While current Government advice remains that working from should continue, many businesses are now looking forward to a phased return of the office in the near future, and we encourage members in planning phase to consult our guide to reopening the office successfully.
Update on Covid-19 Supports
An additional €51 million has been announced to help companies in their recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and to accelerate the digitalisation of enterprises in 2021. The new funding package will also provide liquidity, in the form of grants, capital investment, equity and loan notes to manufacturing and internationally traded services companies which have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 to support productivity improvements and enhance capacity building.
€20 million will be available through the existing Sustaining Enterprise Fund.
€31 million will be provided through a new Accelerated Recovery Fund which provides liquidity to companies to support significant necessary investment in capital and digital capability for productivity improvements
€9,000 Digitalisation Vouchers are also being included in the package to provide strategic intervention for any eligible company wishing to develop a digital adaption plan based on their identified need.
More information, including eligibility criteria, is available here.
Meanwhile, Revenue has issued a reminder to businesses of the key COVID supports that are currently available. These include CRSS, EWSS and the Debt Warehousing Scheme.
DART+ West Project Open to Public Consultation
A public consultation process on DART+ West, the first project for delivery as part of the DART+ Programme is now open. The DART+ West project will deliver improvements for increased capacity and frequency to the service along the railway corridor between Maynooth Station and M3 Parkway Station to Connolly Station. Full details of the consultation and the details to be determined can be found here
Dublin Chamber members are welcome to send their feedback and comments on the consultation to email@example.com
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.