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Government satisfaction continues to improve

31st May 2018

  • Small sized enterprises most satisfied with government
  • Micro businesses least satisfied with government performance
  • Governments handling of business costs ‘unsatisfactory’
  • Services and Construction sectors least satisfied with government
  • Medium sized enterprises experiences the biggest drop in support for government

ISME, the Irish SME Association published the results of its latest Government Satisfaction report today (31st May). SMEs overall satisfaction with the Government continues to improve. This report examines government satisfaction in key areas for the SME sector; ‘Banking’, ‘Business Costs’, ‘Jobs’ and ‘Overall Satisfaction’. The Association welcomes the fact that this is the fifth consecutive improvement in our government satisfaction ratings, but highlights concern regarding Ireland’s high business cost and competitiveness.

ISME CEO, Neil McDonnell commenting on the results stated “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”

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.

COMBINED RATING (+2% to +4%)

  • The overall satisfaction rating has improved this quarter improving from +2% (Q4’17) to +4% (Q1’18).
  • Micro enterprises are least satisfied with the government at 0% change.
  • Small enterprise are most satisfied with the government’s performance increasing from +2% to +8%.
  • Medium sized enterprises reported the highest drop in government support this quarter dropping from +67% in Q4’17 to +7% in Q1’18.
  • The Construction sector is most dissatisfied with government at -15%, while the Wholesale sector is most satisfied with government at +21%.
  • The Services sector reported an improvement on government satisfaction this quarter, increasing from +3% to +6%.
  • Manufacturing reported an improvement in government satisfaction, increasing from +3% in Q4’17 to +12% in Q1’18, while Retail dropped from +33% to +11% in Q1’18.

JOBS RATING (From +5% to +8%)

  • 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 (From -46% to -50%)

  • Banking and access to finance remains one of the biggest concerns for many small to medium sized enterprises. Until we move away from our unhealthy dependence on the three main financial institutions, negative scoring around banking will remain. In our previous bank watch survey, 24% stated they were refused a loan. Furthermore, the interest charged to SMEs is twice the EU average. Until we see positive change in these area, adverse scoring will persist.

ECONOMY (From +9% to +10%)

  • This question examines how satisfied SMEs are with the Government’s handling of the economy; there was a slight increase in government’s handling of the economy overall, up from +9% to +10%.

BUSINESS COSTS (From -56% to -50%)

  • Business cost continue to be a concern for SMEs. Excessive business costs continue to have a major impact on businesses, this was reflected in our 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 our competitiveness. The Government appears to be backing off on tackling insurance costs. A recent report by the IMD competiveness yearbook rankings 2018 shows Ireland dropping 6 places in the world rankings. We reiterate our call for the Government to conduct a review of all business costs to bring them into line with our main export competitors. This continued dissatisfaction from -56% to -50% is evident of the fact government needs to do more on this front.


For further information, please contact

Neil McDonnell, Chief Executive

T: 01 6622755, M: 087 2995658

E: neil@isme.ie

Note to Editors:


* The satisfaction rating is made up from five specific questions on the Government’s performance in dealing with Jobs, Banking, Business Costs the Economy and Overall performance. The results are based on simple balances of the differences between positive and negative responses, for example the negative balance for Jobs means that a greater percentage of respondents were unsatisfied with the Government’s performance on the Jobs issue.