Most Irish businesses think the government isn't doing enough to help them

However, companies are more positive now than they were last year.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

JUST UNDER TWO-THIRDS of Irish companies feel the State is not doing enough for small and medium businesses (SMEs), according to a new study.

The findings came in the second Magnet Regional Business Barometer study which surveyed 540 SMEs across the country.

The research was commissioned by telecoms provider Magnet and was carried out by Amárach Research across eight regional authority areas in January 2016.

It was found just 24% of companies feel that the government is doing enough for SMEs.

However, attitudes towards the State are improving. Although 62% of firms polled said the government is not doing enough, this figure was down from 86% in 2015.

As part of the study a range of different-sized companies were polled, from micro-businesses with between one and nine people employed, up to firms with 250 staff or more.

When asked what the government could do to aid business, just over one-fifth said it could reduce costs to the sector such as taxes and childcare. Some 17% said that grants or funding would help while 8% called for better incentives and concessions.

More companies had a positive outlook compared to last year:

  • 49% said they had a “fairly positive” view of the next 12 months.
  • 25% were “very positive”.
  • The combined 74% that had a positive outlook is up strongly compared to 2015, when the figure stood at 61%.

Few have negative view of 2016

Just 4% had a “fairly negative” view of 2016 while only 1% said they were “very negative”. Some 30% of businesses said they are likely to open new premises this year, more than three times the amount this time last year (9%).

The study also found just 11% of SMEs could name the business technology grants available to them. Nationally, only 6% of firms had availed of the Enterprise Ireland innovation voucher worth €5,000.

Amárach Research chairman Gerard O’ Neill said that the increased positive outlook among SMEs would aid economic growth.

“At the start of last year, the SMEs we surveyed were optimistic but cautious. They wanted to see the proof of recovery before committing to any investment. Twelve months later, most SMEs have the proof they need to go ahead with their expansion plans,” he said.