Date28 Aug 2023
Azets Ireland, the professional services firm that specialises in supporting the needs of mid-market, entrepreneurial, owner-managed, and family-owned businesses, has today published its submission for Budget 2024 to the Minister for Finance Michael McGrath.
It focuses on key initiatives that could help support the growth and development of SMEs as inflation remains high. Employing more than a million people and accounting for two-thirds of those in the private sector, SMEs are the backbone of the Irish economy.
The Pre-Budget Submission includes a proposal to set aside €2 billion to establish a SME Innovation Fund so Irish SMEs can harness the opportunities of the twin digital and green transition. Taken in conjunction with other measures, the Fund would present an opportunity to begin diversifying Ireland’s economic model.
Azets recommends several measures to address the increasing cost of doing business. This includes limiting any increase in the National Minimum Wage next year to the rate of inflation prevailing on the date of the Budget rather than the 12% increase recommended by the Low Pay Commission which would place a significant burden on SMEs.
Azets urges Government to consider the creation of a SME Talent Taskforce to address the significant challenges facing SMEs in attracting and retaining talented people within the domestic economy. Featuring representatives of Government, Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices, employment bodies and the SME sector, it would be tasked with developing a dedicated roadmap to address bottlenecks in the labour market.
Commenting on the Pre-Budget Submission, Neil Hughes, CEO of Azets Ireland said: “As we look ahead to 2024, there remains much to be optimistic about. Despite high inflation, the latest Azets SME Pulse Survey reveals that fewer than one in five SME leaders anticipates a decrease in revenue and profits this year. This points towards the positivity that surrounds the future of SMEs.
“But we should not be complacent. Challenges lie ahead. Rising prices are putting a squeeze on already tight margins while many businesses facing difficulties in attracting and retaining talented people.
“Our Pre-Budget Submission for SMEs sets out changes that can help ease the rising cost of doing business and staff shortages as well as developing sustainable firms.
“Bringing together a new SME Talent Taskforce would help ensure that SMEs have a level playing field in attracting and retaining talented people and help them to succeed in a tight labour market. Putting aside €2bn from the recent record tax take could also provide an important step in diversifying Ireland’s economic model and ensure that SMEs are nurtured and can thrive long into the future.
“Our team of experts at Azets Ireland stand ready to support the Government and businesses across Ireland on this exciting journey.”