Senator Robbie Gallagher says that new information from Inter Trade Ireland shows that 19 out of 20 businesses do not have a plan to deal with Brexit yet and that the Government needs to ensure businesses are adequately supported in preparing contingency plans for dealing with the Brexit fallout.
The figures were based on interviews conducted with more than 750 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across both Ireland and Northern Ireland. This information is very concerning and suggest that many businesses are not ready to deal with the challenges associated with Brexit. A national programme of enterprise supports is needed to keep those viable companies up and running.
“These small and medium sized businesses are major employers across the country and they are particularly important for employment in Monaghan and Cavan and across the border counties generally. They need supports for product diversification, currency hedging and accessing new markets. The loan schemes announced so far are welcome, but these must be matched with grants as well. The IDA and Enterprise Ireland are engaging with their clients, but who is speaking to small Irish exporters? Tens of thousands of companies are at risk, and hundreds of thousands of jobs. It is extremely challenging for smaller enterprises to deal with threats as they have less capacity and many rely on family employees who already put in a lot of extra time and effort to keep their businesses going,” said Senator Gallagher.
“For a year now our Brexit Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has been calling on the Government to publish sectoral response plans to Brexit. Despite promises made by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the silence since then from this Government has been deafening. The current approach is just not causing the response that we need to ensure that we avoid the worst of Brexit. We badly need supports for cross border trading companies in particular. Almost half have already reported that their businesses have been hit and some companies have been wiped out by the fall in value of Sterling. More than 70% of businesses were operating at margins below 10% so currency fluctuations have the capacity to destroy them.”
“The response to date from Government has been that we cannot publish response plans until we know what the deal will look like. But there are businesses under threat right now. These problems cannot wait to be solved in 2019. If we are to move beyond risk mitigation, and seize the opportunities of Brexit, Irish SME’s must have the supports to allow them to plan sooner rather than later.”