Small Firms Association calls for greater supports to get small firms reboot ready

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

The Small Firms Association (SFA) has today launched a new policy paper entitled, ‘Moving the economy forward after COVID-19’ (below). The paper highlights the growing concern amongst small businesses that more needs to be done by Government to support small businesses at this time and that planning needs to begin now to ensure that the reboot is felt across the country, throughout the economy and that its impact is sustainable and job rich.

Graham Byrne, Chair of SFA National Council, said: “Unprecedented steps have been taken in recent weeks to shield small businesses from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 through a range of supports and initiatives. However, until circumstances return to normal it is vital that additional cashflow and liquidity measures are introduced that will allow small firms to survive and bounce back.

“For small businesses to recover, they need a cash grant to enable them to meet current outgoings, 100% relief on business rates for the remainder of 2020 and VAT deferral for the next two quarters. To further meet the liquidity crisis, €2 billion should be made available through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland for low interest rate investment and working capital loans to impacted businesses. Small businesses – including those that were forced to close as well as those who are remaining open but suffering a significant loss of income – should be able to access COVID-19 cashflow and liquidity measures as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“To alleviate uncertainty and maintain competitiveness, as we move the economy forward after COVID-19, the next Government must provide certainty to the small business community by introducing debt forgiveness and tax changes to support investment, consumer spending and job creation.”

The SFA is also calling for the creation of a SME Reboot Taskforce, made up of key stakeholders to consider areas of action to reboot the small business community across the country. “Open and inclusive engagement between different government departments, agencies, academia, business representatives and the small business sector in Ireland will be most important in contributing to our reboot and growth going forward.”

For small businesses to bounce back when this health crisis is over, the SFA is calling for the next Government to:
  • Introduce a wide-ranging debt forgiveness programme;
  • Set up a SME Reboot Taskforce;
  • Decrease the cost of employment;
  • Decease VAT to 21% and reintroduce the 9% VAT rate for the hospitality and related sectors;
  • Support small business in public procurement contracts;
  • Review and reform of insolvency and restructuring laws and
  • Invest in broadband and other infrastructure projects.

The SFA Chair continued: “These are just a few of the areas that small businesses want the next Government to take heed of for the reboot of the economy.”