Irish SMEs overall satisfaction with the Government continues to improve, according to the latest Government Satisfaction report released today by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME).
The Association welcomes the fact that this is the fifth consecutive improvement in government satisfaction ratings, but highlights concern regarding Ireland's high business cost and competitiveness.
The survey was conducted in the third week of April, with 844 SME respondents, 52% of whom employ less than 10; 40% employ between 11 and 49; and the remaining 8% employ between 50 and 250. Geographically, 30% are from Dublin; 59% are spread across the rest of the country; and 11% have multiple sites.
This quarter reported a slight increase of +3% in the government's handling of the job situation. The Irish economy on the jobs front is starting to peak and is almost at full employment. The positive increase was expected as the latest results from the CSO show the continued improvements.
Banking and access to finance remains one of the biggest concerns for many small to medium sized enterprises. The ISME believes that until Ireland moves away from its "unhealthy dependence" on the three main financial institutions, negative scoring around banking will remain. In its previous bank watch survey, 24% stated they were refused a loan. Furthermore, the interest charged to SMEs is twice the EU average.
The report shows that business cost continue to be a concern for SMEs. The ISME says "excessive business costs" continue to have a major impact on businesses and that this was reflected in its recent submission to the Oireachtas committee on excessive business costs. The Association is concerned that the impact of a hard Brexit and continued labour pressures will affect Irish competitiveness.
Speaking this week, ISME CEO, Neil McDonnell said, "Today's results are welcome but they come with a health warning. We must acknowledge the pressures many SME's are facing. Today's report, while showing an overall improvement rating, also highlights SME dissatisfaction with the government's handling of business costs and banking."
He added, "Excessive business costs are having on impact on many small businesses, this is reflected in our dialogue with our members. In our pre-budget submission we will reflect the practical policy steps that can be taken by government to ameliorate the impact of high business costs."