SFA Launches its Small Business Priorities for the Election Campaign

Monday, 25 January 2016

SFA calls for small business to be at the epicentre of Election 2016
    • Ireland must break into top 10 most competitive countries in the world
    • Next government must tackle tax equalisation for the self employed, the cost of doing business and access of small companies to public contracts

Launching the SFA’s four-point plan for Election 2016, AJ Noonan, Chairman of the Small Firms Association, said: “Governments do not create jobs – businesses do – but the next Government must put the right policies in place to increase the ease and attractiveness of doing business in Ireland. If it does so, a thriving small business community will create employment, reinvigorate towns and villages around the country and make a significant contribution to the Irish economy. For this, we need a cabinet that understands and values the contribution of the small business community and we need to reintroduce a Small Business Minister.”

AJ Noonan continued: “The biggest risk currently facing the Irish economy is loss of competitiveness. Internationally, exchange rates, oil prices and interest rates are all in Ireland’s favour, but these are aspects over which we have little control. The Irish Government and Irish businesses must ensure that our underlying competitiveness is not eroded and bring Ireland into the top 10 most competitive countries in the world.”

The SFA calls on parties and candidates to adopt these small business priorities for Election 2016:
    1. End tax discrimination against the self-employed and boost investment by real reform of the tax system:
    • Increase the self-employed income tax credit introduced in Budget 2016 to the same level as the employee PRSI tax credit
    • Abolish the 3% USC surcharge for self-employed incomes over €100,000
    • Introduce a voluntary PRSI system for the self-employed to provide them with a safety net in case of illness or business failure
    • Reform the general CGT rate to 20% to make us competitive
    • Reform the entrepreneurial relief to 10% and increasing the limit to €14 million to match the UK offering

    2. Tackle the rising cost of doing business:
    • Wage pressures – recognise the need to reconcile pay demands with threats to competitiveness
    • Interest rates – improve access to bank and non-bank finance for small businesses, boosting competition and reducing the high interest rates paid by Irish businesses compared with those in other EU countries. End the practice of personal guarantees.
    • Insurance costs – work to combat the substantial increase in business insurance and related legal costs

    3. Help small firms to compete for and win public contracts:
    • Recognise the economic and social value of awarding contracts to small businesses around the country, rather than judging based on price alone
    • Reduce turnover and other thresholds that lock small companies out of tendering processes
    4. Address housing shortages that prevent Irish firms from attracting talent:
    • Reduce the VAT rate to 9% for the construction of residential property for two years to relieve the supply shortages without further increasing house prices

The SFA believes that these changes would improve the environment for small firms and help to create a culture that recognises and values entrepreneurship and business ownership. This culture can also be promoted by embedding key skills such as resilience, critical thinking, intelligent risk-taking and collaboration across the curriculum from primary to higher education.

In conclusion, AJ Noonan stated: “Every party and candidate contesting the 2016 General Election must recognise the important role of small business in job creation, enhancing local communities and driving economic progress. The next Government, whatever its makeup, must put small business at the heart of its policies by tackling discriminatory taxation, rising business costs and unfair public procurement practices.”

Ends

For further comment or interview, contact AJ Noonan, SFA Chairman, at tel: 086 259 2610


Editor’s note

The Small Firms Association is the trusted partner of small business in Ireland, with 8,500 members and six affiliated organisations in all sectors and parts of the country.

For more information about the SFA, visit www.sfa.ie or find us on Twitter @SFA_Irl
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