Budget 2020 Reaction: Conservative Budget for Uncertain Times

Reacting to the detail of Budget 2020, Cork Chamber has welcomed the Brexit package as an important measure to protect Irish businesses in the turbulent waters ahead.

Meanwhile, the failure by Government to meaningfully address historic high rents and the lack of viability of new apartment construction is a cause of concern.

Commenting on the Chamber’s budget priorities, CEO Conor Healy, said:

Affordable Apartments
“Outside of Brexit, the availability of housing is the number one issue facing business and the wider community. Our social fabric in the context of Brexit is as important for our overall competitiveness and so the heightened budget allocation for social housing is welcome. The extension of the Help to Buy Scheme and Living Cities Initiative are positive as 91% of our members support targeted and timebound measures to stimulate construction of new urban accommodation.

However, there is no question that government could have done more in this budget to enable the private sector to deliver affordable urban housing. At a time of historic high rents, an unsatisfiable demand for urban living, and a complete lack of apartment construction outside of Dublin, it will soon become apparent whether these measures will be enough. Government’s own targets on home building cannot be achieved unless the viability gap of apartment delivery is bridged so that rents and sales prices can come down.”

“It is obvious that Brexit has had a defining impact on every element of this budget. The identification of agriculture, enterprise and tourism as sectors in need of support to help transition into new markets and products in the event of a no-deal Brexit is appropriate. In Cork, tourism and agri-food are particularly important to the economy and vulnerable to Brexit impacts. For example, in 2008 the value of the UK tourism market fell by 23%. It is essential that all measures are made available in an easily accessible manner and without delay to improve business confidence at this time of economic uncertainty. “

Carbon Tax:
“Ireland needs to improve its climate record. We welcome that the proposed Carbon Tax increases will be ringfenced to support policy interventions to increase the affordability of alternatives to our current carbon intensive lifestyle. However, businesses must to be able to plan for increasing costs and need clarity on how carbon tax increases will be levied between now and 2030.”

“Transport is by far the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions in Ireland. We cannot hit commuters with fuel price hikes unless they are provided with a sustainable alternative. Cork needs delivery on the Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, including Bus Connects, safe cycling infrastructure and higher commuter rail frequencies to encourage a behavioural change away from cars.”

Competitiveness, Diversity and Childcare  
“The participation tax for women with two children in Ireland who must pay for childcare is a staggering 94% as highlighted by the Government Tax Strategy Group and there is no doubt that childcare costs have a significant impact on female workforce participation. The continued commitment by Government to deliver on the National Affordable Childcare Scheme and help bring down Ireland’s high cost of childcare is positive, and it is our hope that this investment will be steadily increased over future budgets to bring in line costs with the EU norms.”
“The surprise move to increase commercial property stamp duty by 1.5% is an erosion of our competitiveness and another addition to the cost of doing business in Ireland.”

“Government has committed to ensuring tax equity and so the decision to increase the earned income tax credit for self-employed people is a further step in the right direction. Our tax system should always ensure fairness and support entrepreneurship and drive growth in our economy. The changes to R&D and KEEP are also welcome business measures. “