Annual comparison shows positive increase in satisfaction on all counts.
Overall quarterly rating decreased from +6 to +4.
Business Costs still highest cause of dissatisfaction at -54.
Largest quarterly drop in satisfaction on banking issues.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has published the results of its latest Government Satisfaction Survey* today (29th July). While the annual figures show a substantial increase in satisfaction across the boards the quarterly figures show a slight dip, with Business Costs the most dissatisfied at -54. The overall rating decreased from +6 to +4. On a positive note the overall figure has improved by 45 points in the year and 59 points since summer 2012.
In the Q2,r three of the four areas surveyed reported decreases in satisfaction and the only increase was in business costs, even though this remains the area with most discontent.
In the past three years the Government has scored a +69 on Jobs, +59 Overall Performance, +23 on Banking Issues, while the score on Business Costs has moved a paltry +16 points. It is also evident that Government action, or inaction, is not meeting with approval of micro businesses, the largest grouping, who score an overall -3. The larger the business the more satisfaction increases, as evident by a score of +36 for medium enterprises.
It should also be pointed out that the survey was carried out prior to the announcement of the proposed increase in the minimum wage, increase in parental leave and the introduction of paternity leave.
ISME CEO, Mark Fielding, commented on the results, “The Government can take some satisfaction from the overall results of the ISME Survey. However, the message that comes across, loud and clear, is that the administration is making very little headway on the Banking and the Business Costs issues in particular”.
“Businesses need to be able to compete effectively in the export market and they cannot do this unless their costs are brought into line with international competitors. Much more must be done to curtail the rise of state influenced business costs. The fact that inflation figures are so low gives a false impression of business costs and less incentive to Government to take any action.“
“The National Economic Dialogue discussions are hopefully a sign that Government is willing to listen to key stakeholders when making budgetary and policy decisions. It is imperative that the business concerns raised at the talks are addressed and resolved. The economy will not thrive until government creates the right conditions for businesses to grow.”
The survey was conducted in the first week of July, with 1,020 SME respondents from nine main sectors. 56% of the respondents employ less than 10, while a further 34% employ between 11 and 50 and the remaining 10% employ between 51 and 250.
COMBINED RATING (+6 to +4)
The overall satisfaction rating decreased from +6 to +4. However, the last quarter was the first time this rating was a positive figure so the fact that it has not dipped back into negative territory is a good sign. The positive satisfaction ratings increase, the larger the enterprise, with Micro businesses the least satisfied at -3, small businesses came in at +6, while medium sized businesses are quite satisfied at +36. Construction are the least satisfied sector at -18 while Manufacturing is the most satisfied at +17. Retailers remained at a +13 satisfaction level and Distribution are at +3. The three year change in this indicator is +59, with the main positive changes in the last twelve months, in line with the economic recovery.
JOBS RATING (+11 to +9)
Slight decline again in satisfaction ratings with the Government’s handling of the jobs situation. The rating has gone from +11 to +9. This reflects the slow but steady decline in numbers on the live register. However the annual and three year figure for jobs is by far the most positive for the Government at +33 and +69 respectively.
BANKING (-43 to -48)
The banking score has decreased from -43 to -48. SME access to finance is improving with the advent of the SBCI but the delays in decision making by banks continues to be an issue for SMEs. The change in the three year figure here of +23 is an indication of the difficulty in dealing with the arrogant banking sector, even for a Government which owns almost half of the three bailed-out pillar banks.
ECONOMY (+12 to +11)
This question examines how satisfied SMEs are with the Government’s handling of the economy. The +11 rating is the highest satisfaction rating of all areas analysed despite the 1 point drop. The three year figure here is +30, a score that needs to improve.
BUSINESS COSTS (-56 to -54)
The worst performing indicator and by far the most important for SMEs. This indicator has improved from -56 to -54 but still continues to be the highest rated reason for dissatisfaction with the current administration. The issue of high business costs is a key concern for ISME members. The Association is concerned that Ireland is rapidly losing its competitive edge and has called on Government to conduct a review of all business costs to bring them into line with our main export competitors. The annual and three year changes are the most disappointing of all the indicators at +16 and +16 respectively. This demonstrates quite clearly that the Government has not got to grips with state influenced costs.
“Recent international figures show a drop in Ireland’s competitive standing – a clear message to Government that costs are out of kilter. We must benchmark our business costs against our international competitors and then reduce them. Only then will our competitiveness be increased and jobs will be created”, concluded Fielding.