Businesses blame rising costs for increasing dissatisfaction

Satisfaction among businesses with the Government is falling thanks to rising costs in the banking sector and elsewhere, according to a survey of more than 1,000 companies by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME).

“Recent modest improvements in job figures are noted, however the continuing creep of business costs and the lack of adequate bank credit have negatively impacted on the overall rating,” said ISME boss Mark Fielding. “This is starkly reflected in the retail response, with the highest dissatisfaction figures noted in 15 months.”

The overall satisfaction rating has worsened to -32 from -30. Small enterprises at -41 are the least satisfied. The retail sector is the least satisfied sector at -54, a full 10-point drop in three months. Service and distribution at -35 each are the most satisfied; however, distribution is the only sector to have improved in the quarter.

Unhappiness with banking has increased to -65 from -61. This rating is a reflection of the dropping of the lending targets for SMEs by government in January and an increase in refusals for loans reported in the ISME Bank Watch survey of two weeks ago. Small businesses were most dissatisfied.

Costs remain a significant source of unhappiness. “Government must tackle the key issues of business costs and bank credit and prioritise the restoration of our competitiveness,” Mr Fielding said.

“All costs, including public sector and legacy business costs must be benchmarked against our immediate international competitors. We must also expose sheltered sectors to greater competition in an effort to reduce all business costs and increase competitiveness for Irish SMEs,” he added.