Immense Challenges Ahead for Business

Cork Chamber, along with Chambers Ireland and the nationwide network of Chambers has today (10 June 2020) published results from a survey of the Irish business community. This survey sought to quantify and highlight the impact of COVID-19 on businesses in our towns, cities and regions across the country.

The fourth in a series, the survey has 1,320 responses and was conducted between the 28th May and 2nd June 2020.

Our latest survey took a read of the business environment in Phase 1 of our economy’s re-opening following the COVID-19 restrictions.

The headline findings are:

  • Business activity levels are extremely low, for those businesses that have returned to operation under Phase 1
  • Businesses that have opened are typically experiencing less than half of their usual levels of business activity for this time of year
  • Most businesses expect their earnings over the coming three months to be half the normal amount. The median expected revenue over the next three months (relative to what they would have expected to be earning in a typical year) has risen from -60% to -50% over the next three months.
  • 25% of businesses expect to have earnings that are -70% of their usual level
  • The impact of revenue decline is being felt more strongly in the regions, notably in the West, Border counties and the South East
  • Smaller operators have seen revenue reduced most significantly, again compounding regional effects for areas which do not have large employers
  • Invoice arrears are increasing with the value of unpaid invoices (relative to 2019) significantly up across all sectors.
  • Almost two thirds of microenterprises and small businesses have experienced both an increase in the value owed to them and an increase in the proportion of debt that is owed to them that is now in excess of 90-days past due.
Speaking this morning, Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy said;

“The findings of this research are clear and show the immense challenges ahead for business and the broader economy."

"Despite all that has been done to support businesses through the restrictions and in preparation for reopening, we know now that Government need to put sector specific plans in place to help businesses get back on their feet."

"SMEs, who are important employers across the Cork region have been worst hit. Many self-employed and sole traders have closed entirely, and invoice arrears are increasing, contributing to growing debt levels. If businesses are to stay trading and retain jobs, we need to see further financial intervention to support SMEs – and these supports need to address cashflow and overheads which are proving to be an increasing challenge as time moves on."

"Government must address the issue of Commercial Rates, further expansions of grant aid, sector specific long term extension of The Wage Subsidy Scheme and additional funding to our local authorities to support the regional economies for the remainder of 2020.”

For any new supports to be put in place a new Government will be required, or at the very least, an Oireachtas empowered to legislate.

Investment in infrastructure and housing must be the centrepiece of a new Programme for Government. Delivery on the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy will be critical in facilitating the sustainable growth of our city region. There must be a commitment to regional development, job creation and sustainable economic growth if Ireland is to return to strong economic footing.

Priorities for a Programme for Government
  • Commitment to efficient delivery of key infrastructure projects from transport and housing to energy and water. Retaining the National Planning Framework and Climate Action Plan is critical to the productivity and sustainability of the Irish economy
  • National Taskforce for town and city centres, led by the Department of the Taoiseach
  • Urgent review of the existing third level funding structures so that a sustainable long-term funding model can be put in place that will address the current and capital funding needs of these institutions
  • Introduction of legislation that is needed to support the development of offshore wind
Conor Healy also noted;

“Cork Chamber’s Sustainable Cork Programme, which is designed to support businesses through and beyond recovery, will explore the challenges and solutions to building a more resilient and sustainable economy. There is a strong sentiment in the business community that this very challenging time does present some opportunities to rebuild in a considered and sustainable manner, and our advocacy work will continue to be reflective of this.”
 
Ends
For Further Information contact Conor Healy, Cork Chamber CEO 087 947 1858
Cork Chamber
Cork Chamber is the leading business organisation in Cork, supporting 1,200 businesses employing over 100,000 people in the region www.corkchamber.ie
 
Notes to Editors
  • To access the Survey Results Report for this latest COVID-19 Business Community Survey conducted from 28th May to 2nd June 2020, click here
  • To access the Survey Results Report on the sectoral and regional impact of COVID-19, from the third Chambers Ireland COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey, click here
  • To access the Survey Results Report from the third Chambers Ireland COVID-19 Business Impacts survey, published on 30th April 2020, click here
  • To access the Survey Results Report from the second Chambers Ireland COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey, published on 9th April 2020, click here
To access the Survey Results Report from the first Chambers Ireland COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey, published on 24th March 2020, click here