Budget 2023 must alleviate acute energy and labour cost pressures

Budget 2023 must alleviate acute energy and labour cost pressures

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today said many retail businesses are struggling to cope with rapidly increasing energy and wider cost pressures, which will become even more acute over the coming months. The group called for decisive and far-reaching government supports in the upcoming budget to help off-set spiralling energy price hikes and rising labour market costs, including commercial rates relief. A failure to act will result in business failures and job losses.

Setting out the group’s Budget 2023 priorities, Retail Ireland Director Arnold Dillon said: “The post-Covid boost to retail was short-lived. Businesses are under intense pressure and are struggling to manage rising energy costs. These problems have been compounded by the cumulative cost of ongoing labour market reforms. Unless significant further measures are introduced to support businesses through the winter, the viability of many will be in question. The government has the resources to support business and consumers, now is the time to act.

Retail Ireland has set out to Government its detailed proposals to address energy and labour market costs, and support town and city centre rejuvenation. These include:

• Energy costs: Energy price hikes are making it very difficult for retail businesses to maintain profitability, with knock-on implications for investment and jobs. New government support schemes are required along with new incentives to support businesses improve energy efficiency. A commercial rate payment break should be introduced to help businesses manage spiralling energy cost increases.

• Labour market costs: Inflationary pressures are being compounded by the cumulative cost of ongoing labour market reforms. The rollout of pension auto-enrolment, the living wage, statutory sick pay and other leave proposals will dramatically increase labour costs over the coming years. Budget 2023 should introduce a new labour market transition rebate, funded from the National Training Fund (NTF), to support the viability of companies managing this adjustment. This should include an initial break from NTF payments, 1% of payroll, and a further rebate of up to 2% of payroll (or two years payments) equivalent in training, skills or productivity vouchers. 

• Town and city centre rejuvenation: The growth of online retail and the challenge of Covid means much more effort is needed to make our town and city centres attractive places to shop, socialise and work. A commercial rates exemption scheme should be introduced to incentivise occupiers of commercial property to carry out approved upgrades, including energy efficiency initiatives. More investment to improve the attractiveness of our public spaces and public transport links is also needed and a more visible Garda presence is needed in our urban centres.

“Having been through the disruption of Brexit and Covid, acute inflationary pressures now risk undermining a sustainable recovery. Budget 2023 must include significant direct measures to alleviate labour market and energy cost pressures. Government must also support the long-term development of a vibrant and sustainable retail sector into the future. Businesses are investing for the future, in skills and career paths, in their digital platforms, and in more sustainable ways of working. The government must incentivise the necessary investment and actively support businesses on this journey,” concluded Mr Dillon. 

Article Credit : www.ibec.ie

Wicklow Chamber holds Annual Golf Classic for 2022

Wicklow Chamber holds Annual Golf Classic for 2022

Wicklow Chamber held it’s Annual Golf Classic for 2022 recently and was a big success and a fantastic social event for our members. This was our first Golf Classic in 3 years so we are so delighted to receive the support that we did.

Please find below details and images of the results of our recent Chamber Golf Classic which took place in Wicklow Golf Club on Friday 9th September.

The Committee would like to thank REA Forkin Estates for sponsoring this event, along with all the teams that entered and played a spot of golf on the day and to all the businesses that sponsored a Green/Tee Box.

After a week of wind and rain, the sun came out on Friday and allowed a good day for golf.

Results are as follows:

  • First Prize: Mespil with a score of 93
  • Second Prize: D/Res with a score of 87
  • Third Prize: REA Forkin with a score of 83
  • Front Nine: Brian Murray Financial Services with a score of 44
  • Back Nine: Inverdea Financial Services with a score of 41
  • Nearest to Pin: Ronan Kane
  • Longest Drive: Niall Mahoney
  • Chamber Cup: Cathal Cooney

Eurochambers call for immediate measures to help businesses absorb spiralling energy prices

Eurochambers call for immediate measures to help businesses absorb spiralling energy prices

Leaders of Eurochambres, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce & Industry meeting in Prague today called for immediate measures to help businesses deal with spiralling electricity and gas prices. Specific suggestions from the chambers include targeted financial compensation for businesses, balanced energy saving policies and well-targeted, temporary market interventions.

With an emergency meeting of EU energy ministers scheduled for 9 September, chambers underlined the adverse economic impact of high energy costs on Europe’s recovery and competitiveness during a discussion with the Czech EU Minister, Mikuláš Bek.

“Extremely high energy prices could lead to curtailment of production, which would have disastrous consequences for businesses, the international competitiveness of the European economy and the labour market”, Eurochambres President Luc Frieden reiterated.

The European chamber network calls for solidarity and solutions to secure affordable energy for businesses and consumers with coordinated demand reduction measures being generally welcomed.

Chambers also insist on fair sharing of efforts between the different end-consumers. Households and the public sector still have considerable scope for energy savings, while businesses have already reduced much or their demand across many sectors. It is important to ensure that companies that have already made substantial investments in energy efficiency are not further burdened.

It should be easier to make additional investments into energy efficiency and renewable energy. “We urgently need targeted relief policies, including appropriate financial compensation for businesses, as well as fast permitting procedures for sustainable projects”, Mr Frieden added.

European Chambers of commerce and industry acknowledge that temporary market-based interventions could be necessary to secure affordable prices for end-consumers and to take financial pressure off businesses. However, it is vital to ensure that any measures taken do not impede the functioning of the internal energy market, or jeopardise decarbonisation, the security of supply and energy saving efforts. To avoid unforeseen impacts on cross-border energy flows between member states, we call for a solution at European level. Furthermore, the commission needs to present sufficient details on policy options and the interests of European businesses need to be considered.

Speaking after the Eurochambres meeting Eurochambres Deputy President, and Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, Ian Talbot said:

“The energy crisis that we are experiencing at home is a European wide problem which urgently needs a European wide solution.

“Businesses across the EU need to see a stabilisation in energy costs if we are to be able to plan for the future. We are facing into an extremely difficult winter and everyone at every level will have to make enormous efforts to reduce their energy demands if we are to ensure that essential services are not disrupted, and livelihoods are maintained.

“Solidarity will be needed across the EU if we are to mitigate the worst of the impact of Russia’s energy restrictions. Within members states, solidarity will be needed across sectors and across communities to ensure that the most vulnerable can be supported.”

Article Credit : www.chambers.ie

Wicklow’s Coastal Communities to benefit from significant funding under Brexit Blue Economy Scheme

Wicklow’s Coastal Communities to benefit from significant funding under Brexit Blue Economy Scheme

Businesses in Wicklow’s coastal communities are being encouraged to apply for the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme, with funding of up to €200,000 available per capital project.

The aim of the Scheme is to stimulate growth in rural coastal communities post-Brexit, with funding available to businesses operating within 10 kilometres of the coastline and involved in the blue economy.

The blue economy covers a wide range of economic activities within coastal communities such as seafood, coastal tourism, boat building and maintenance, marine recreation, and renewable energy initiatives.

The Scheme, the largest of its kind ever, is open to three streams of projects: Capital Investment, Business Mentoring & Capacity Development, and Upskilling & Training.

A €25 million budget is available in 2022 and 2023, funded under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve. The Scheme is an initiative of the Government of Ireland and is being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Paul Downes, regional officer at BIM, said the Scheme, which opened in June of this year, has already received many promising and innovative proposals.

“We’re delighted with the quality of the applications that have come in to date, covering a wide breadth of blue economy businesses – from seafood companies to charter boat businesses, marine engineering companies to coastal tourism enterprises.

“We’re eager to encourage more businesses, particularly for the capital investment stream, to submit an application for funding. Brexit has brought challenges to coastal communities and this unique funding opportunity has the ability to deliver real benefits to those communities and to individual businesses that are part of the blue economy. These investments will enable innovation, diversification, value-adding, and will support business growth and increased employment.”

The Scheme is being delivered through Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) which uniquely focus local development funding specifically for areas and communities within 10 kilometres of the sea around the entire coast.

Capital project initiatives proposed by applicants must be located within 10km of the coastline and must be within one of the following blue economy sectors:

  • Small Non-Commercial Harbour/Pier Activities
  • Boat Building and Repair
  • Coastal Tourism
  • Marine Leisure and Sport
  • Seafood
  • Renewable Energy Initiatives supporting the Blue Economy

The applicant must be a micro or small enterprise and projects must be completed by 30 September 2023. The other two streams for funding are Business Mentoring & Capacity Development, and Upskilling & Training.

Full details about the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme, including how to apply can be found here

Article Credit : www.wicklownews.net

New laws for sick pay passed by Oireachtas

New laws for sick pay passed by Oireachtas

A new law giving workers the right to paid sick leave has been passed by the Oireachtas.

When enacted, employees will be entitled to three days’ paid sick leave in the first year of operation, rising to five days in year two, seven days in year three with employers eventually covering the cost of ten days in year four.

Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily maximum of €110.

It can be revised over time by ministerial order in line with inflation and changing incomes.

An employee must obtain a medical certificate to avail of statutory sick pay and the entitlement is subject to the employee having worked for their employer for a minimum of 13 weeks.

Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions.

The Government said the legislation is primarily intended to provide a level of sick pay coverage to many private sector workers and those on low pay who currently receive no sick pay or are not entitled to illness benefit.

Welcoming the passage of the Sick Leave Bill, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar described it as a really important new employment right.

He also said that he has been conscious of the impact the new law will have on employers.

“That’s why we’re phasing it in as we are and I think we’ve designed it in such a way that is fair and affordable for enterprise,” Mr Varadkar said.

Article Credit : www.rte.ie/news

New low cost Covid-19 loan scheme for businesses

New low cost Covid-19 loan scheme for businesses

The Government has launched a further low cost Covid-19 loan scheme for businesses.

The finance will be available to small and medium businesses (SMEs) including farmers, fishers and food businesses.

Low cost loans between €25,000 and €1.5 million will be available with terms of one to six years.

Credit will be available without security where the loan amount is less than €500,000 and the finance will typically feature a lower interest rate than other comparable lending in the market.

Up to 30% of new loans may be allowed for refinancing of existing short-term credit.

In order to qualify for the loans, businesses must have experienced an adverse impact of a minimum 15% in turnover or profit due to the impact of Covid-19.

The scheme is delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), through participating lenders.

The Covid-19 Loan Scheme replaces the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) which closed at the end of June.

As of the end of May, the CCGS had seen more than 10,000 SMEs access finance of over €700 million.

Launching the new scheme, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said it recognises the fact that many businesses are still getting back on their feet after what has been an incredibly challenging few years.

“This successor scheme will give SMEs, including farmers, fishers and food businesses, the option to access really competitively priced loans, should they need to avail of that option, in addition to the other help that is available,” Mr Varadkar said.

Article Credit : www.rte.ie/news

Taste of Wicklow returns to Wicklow Town!

Taste of Wicklow returns to Wicklow Town!

.Taste of Wicklow is delighted to be returning from Friday, 24th to Sunday, 26th of June and is
set to be the largest food festival on the east coast.

Joining a host of local and national chefs will be a star-studded line up of celebrity chefs from
across Ireland including JP McMahon, Darina Allen, Jeeny Maltese and Paul Kelly.

There will also be over 50 artisan food and drink stalls serving delightful and delicious dishes
at the event’s new location, An Tairseach Organic Farm & Ecology Centre in Wicklow Town (located next to Dominican Convent Wicklow)

On Friday, June 24th a wonderful weekend in Wicklow Town will kick off with the VIP Taste of Wicklow banquet, where booking platform Tabero and local restaurant Sorrel & Eve along with An Tairseach Organic Farm & Ecology Centre are joining forces to put on an exclusive pop-up dining experience limited to just 50 people.

Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th will play host to a smash-hit range of food demonstrations
from celebrity and local chefs, along with a live stage where a medley of musicians and DJs
will be performing across the weekend.

Also on display will be various craft and gift stalls as well as a jam-packed schedule of family entertainment including circus acts, face painting, balloon modelling, clay painting, games and storytelling – children aged under 12 will be allowed free entry to the Taste of Wicklow.

Speaking ahead of the festival’s launch, Wicklow Town & District Chamber President Matt
Forkin said: “I’m delighted that Wicklow Town’s signature event, Taste of Wicklow, is finally able to return with a bang.

“This will be its eighth year, and we can’t wait to welcome visitors to our lovely coastal town. We hope you take the time to shop in Wicklow Town, to visit our coffee shops, restaurants, and local pubs.”

Taste of Wicklow is brought to you by Wicklow Town and District Chamber of Commerce, with the support of An Tairseach, Gallaghers Super Valu Wicklow, Wicklow Naturally, Trinity Motors, REA Forkin, McKenna, Wicklow County Council, Green Meadow Farm and Smiths of Wicklow.

Tickets are still available for the Taste of Wicklow online at www.tasteofwicklow.ie. You can also visit the website to find a full list of what’s on each day.

Article Credit : www.wicklownews.net

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme for all businesses comes to an end

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme for all businesses comes to an end

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) ends today for all businesses.

In February, most employers moved to a reduced weekly rate of support before the payments were phased out in March and April.

Businesses directly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions in December 2021, including many in the hospitality sector, were eligible to continue receiving support under the scheme until today.

Wage subsidy schemes, the EWSS or its predecessor, the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), have been in place for over two years, since March 2020.

The total level of support provided to date by the wage subsidy schemes is €10.6 billion.

The EWSS accounts for €7.8 billion of that figure, comprising direct subsidy payments of €6.8 billion and PRSI forgone of over €1 billion.

The EWSS supported 51,900 employers in respect of almost 744,000 employees.

“Today marks the end of the very successful Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme,” said Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

“The wage subsidy schemes played a crucial role in preserving employment and incomes and supporting businesses at a very challenging time during the pandemic.”

According to provisional statistics published by Revenue last week, 4,000 employers were registered for EWSS and as of 26 May, 3,600 businesses were in receipt of the payments.

Article Credit : www.rte.ie

EmployAbility Wicklow celebrates 21 Years of service

EmployAbility Wicklow celebrates 21 Years of service

EmployAbility Service Wicklow is celebrating 21 years working in Wicklow providing employment support services to people with disabilities.

Employability Wicklow celebrate 21 years of service EmployAbility is funded by the Department of Social Protection and is a specialised community-based service. Its main aim is to increase the number of people with a disability who are employed in County Wicklow. EmployAbility has offices in Bray, Wicklow Town, and Arklow, and provides outreach services throughout the County. EmployAbility can be contacted by email by info@employabilitywicklow.ie or https://www.employabilitywicklow.com

The service extends across the full range of people with a disability whatever the impairment, including people with a physical or sensory disabilities, those with mental health conditions, and those who acquire a disability. EmployAbility strongly believes that when Jobseekers are placed at the centre of the service provision and given the correct supports everyone can gain employment that matches and meets their own individual circumstances.

The EmployAbility Service is delivered in five stages.

• Employment Needs Assessment

• Vocational Profiling and Career planning

• Job Search support and advice

• Work experience and progression to open employment

• Progression to Independent Employment Jobseekers progress through each stage of the service with the support of an experienced Employment Support Specialised or Job Coach. The 21 years working in Wicklow celebrations will be held in the Wicklow Library, Wicklow Town on the morning of the 26th May, 11am to 1pm, where elected public representatives, Wicklow’s inclusive employers, and their employees, will share their experience of working with the EmployAbility Service