Sandyford Business District Budget 2021 Successes
- Creating the Right Environment for Businesses during Covid-19
With the scale of the shock caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to both businesses and consumers, Sandyford Business District (SBD) proposed a suite of measures in Budget 2021 which will help alleviate the short-term impacts on member companies. The submission contained a raft of initiatives which will help businesses to withstand the challenges they are facing while retaining jobs and ensuring the vibrancy of the District. The Government has taken on board a number of our proposals which were subsequently delivered on Budget day to include:
- The extension of the commercial rates waiver to the end of 2020.
- Covid-19 business supports in the shape of
- The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme which provides businesses with up to €5,000 per week where they have been forced to close their premises.
- Debt warehousing provision for small and medium sized businesses which will be extended for a period of a year with no interest.
- A Recovery Fund of €3.4 billion to stimulate the economy after the economic shocks of Covid-19 and Brexit.
- €1.3 billion for spending on expansions and improvements to national, regional and local roads which will create thousands of jobs. Our next objective is to ensure monies will be allocated to the District to enhance access and circumnavigation of the area.
- €150 million under the Urban and Regeneration Development Fund in 2021.
- Progression of the Project 2040 programmes including the BusConnects Programme, MetroLink and the DART Expansion Programme. MetroLink and Dublin BusConnects Core Bus Corridors will advance with planning permission to be sought from An Bord Pleanála.
While the pandemic has been the most immediate challenge facing businesses this year, Sandyford Business District asked Government to consider the looming threat of Brexit and the challenges this will pose to Irish business regardless of the outcome of negotiations. The 2021 Budget submission emphasised the need for support for member companies that must adjust their trading relationships and invest in business operations in order to handle the new customs arrangements. SBD also sought meaningful assistance in the pursuit of new markets and the streamlining of the work visa and work permit procedures. The Government has heeded our calls and announced the following supports:
- €350 million has been allocated across the various governmental Departments for spending on challenges related to Brexit with €100 million earmarked specifically over 2021.The amount is aimed at providing for necessary infrastructural and staffing costs to facilitate trade compliance with EU customs obligations and to underpin the protection of national and EU borders.
- Funding for Enterprise Ireland to help increase their promotion and marketing activities on behalf of Irish indigenous businesses.
- Funding under the Government’s €3.4 billion Recovery Fund which will provide targeted supports to deal with economic shocks caused by Brexit.
- Investment in ICT processes to help digitalise immigration procedures.
Sandyford Business District 2021 Budget submission also highlighted the need for Ireland to maintain a competitive tax regime to facilitate an economic recovery post the coronavirus. SBD contended that central to this is the need for further reductions in the tax burden which would help spur on the recovery of specific sectors, such as hospitality, which have been severely impacted by the pandemic. SBD also pointed out that the pandemic has not resolved the housing crisis and that relevant taxation relief is one of the keys to resolving this problem. The Government’s approach to taxation in Budget 2021 has committed to delivering on a number of SBD’s proposals and has taken a similar direction.
- VAT on hospitality businesses has been reduced from 13.5% to 9%.
- The corporation tax rate remains unchanged.
- The Help-to-Buy-Scheme has been extended at the €30,000 level to last until the end of 2021.
- The Residential Development (Stamp Duty) Refund Scheme has been extended to 31 December 2022.
- The earned income tax credit has been raised by €150 to bring it in line with PAYE tax credits.
In the area of employment Sandyford Business District emphasised the high cost of wages to employers, stressing that Government needs to be attuned to this in both its Covid-19 schemes such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Emergency Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), as well as when setting a minimum wage. SBD also raised concern about the high rents faced by employees in Dublin and urged intervention in the housing market. On Budget Day, the Government announced the following supports:
- The continuation of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme until the end of 2021, if necessary.
- A minor upward adjustment of the minimum wage amounting to 10c. The relevant Employer’s PRSI and USC thresholds have been raised to match this change.
- €3.3 billion spend on housing, marking a 24% increase on 2020.
- Enhancing the Environment
Sandyford Business District also put forward proposals the Government should take to enable all sectors of society to participate in efforts to protect the environment. The 2021 Budget submission stressed the congestion problems in Dublin and urged Government to take further action in improving public transport services. SBD also called on Government to encourage pedestrianisation of streets during weekends by local authorities. These proposals also included a small practical change that would enhance public awareness of Building Energy Ratings by publishing them alongside sale prices on the website of the Property Services Regulatory Authority. In terms of financial measures included in Budget 2021, worthy of mention in this policy area are:
- The Government’s commitment to the introduction of longer trams.
- €1.8 billion funding for sustainable transport, cycling, walking and greenways with €360 million to be spent on walking and cycling projects.
Sandyford Business District 2021 Budget submission emphasised the dire impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the Irish motor industry and called for tax measures to help the industry survive and protect its 50,000 jobs. SBD also sought measures to support the purchase of hybrid and electric vehicles through the improvement of charging infrastructure. The Government has made some significant changes in this area, most notably with an overhaul of the Vehicle Registration Tax and Motor Tax. Measures of interest include:
- A new Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) structure of rates and bands will be introduced from 1 January 2021 for new vehicles and imports to align with the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) emissions system.
- A new motor tax rate table will be introduced to align with the move to the WLTP emissions system and it will apply to cars first registered in Ireland from 1 January 2021. Changes will also be made to the existing motor tax rate tables that apply to cars first registered in Ireland between July 2008 and December 2020.
- This overhaul of VRT and motor tax is expected to lower the cost of hybrid and electric vehicles and lower the motor tax burden on most vehicles manufactured after 2008.
- Grants to support the installation of home chargers and public chargers are to be continued, and additional supports for charging infrastructure at key strategic destinations to enhance overall network accessibility to be introduced - the SEAI will be introducing support for destination chargers which can be provided at locations such as hotels, shopping centres or places of employment.
- Law and Order
In advance of the Budget, Sandyford Business District also highlighted the potential of crime to seriously hamper economic development with retail and hospitality businesses reporting up to 3% shrinkage a year as a result of this activity on their premises. While welcoming the ongoing assistance of the Garda Bureau of Community Engagement, SBD asked Government to provide greater resources to enforcement agencies to fight crime. In Budget 2021, Government has taken some decisive steps in this direction.
- The Department of Justice is to receive funding to recruit up to 620 trainee Gardaí in 2021; and to recruit in the region of 500 Garda staff to fill administrative and back-office functions to facilitate the continued redeployment of trained Gardaí to frontline policing;
- Revenue’s funding is to be increased by 6.5%.
- Proposed Retrofitting Scheme
Sandyford Business District is committed to ongoing lobbying for measures that positively impact the various phases of construction to include planning services, building materials, homewares and all associated activity. With the Government’s Retrofitting Scheme introduced in the July Stimulus, SBD highlighted the effectiveness of same in spurring activity in the construction industry, creating jobs and training opportunities. The SBD Budget submission expressed its commitment to this. Government has committed to the following:
- €286.5 million to be allocated for retrofit activity.
- That the National Home Retrofit Scheme will be available to homeowners who want to upgrade the energy efficiency of their home to a B2 rating.
- Funding to provide for 1500 new places in retrofitting courses.