The July stimulus package is “cold comfort” to thousands of restaurants and hospitality businesses across the country, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said.
The representative body said the Government’s decision not to decrease the tourism and hospitality Vat rate in line with Northern Ireland has put a “nail in the coffin” for border restaurants.
While they welcomed the extension of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme as well as the decrease in alcohol VAT rate to 21%, they raised concerns that without further supports, many local businesses will close permanently.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said: “We are questioning the decision not to include a grants package for Tourism and Hospitality in today’s July Stimulus.
“We appeal to Government to support businesses to reopen, to retain employees and keep the economy going.
“To ignore immediate legislative issues such as; insurance reform and commercial leases until October’s Budget would result in the demise of a significant number of businesses and immediate job losses.
“I am appealing to the Government to rethink this decision and to support independent tourism and hospitality businesses around the country with a targeted grants package.
Meanwhile, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce said it welcomed the support measures but warned it would not be enough to protect vulnerable businesses most impacted by a no-deal Brexit.
Paul Lynam, director of policy at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, said: “While the immediate focus has correctly been on the Covid-19 outbreak, the Government should not lose sight of the impact of Brexit.
“Irish businesses which have been decimated because of Covid-19 now face the prospect of increased administrative burdens and potential tariffs with their largest two-way trading partner.”
As part of the financial package, a 20 million euro Brexit fund has been made available to help SMEs prepare for new customs arrangements.
The chairman of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, Oisin Geoghegan, said that supports like the Trading Online Voucher and the Business Continuity Scheme have helped small businesses prepare for trading throughout the pandemic.
“The Trading Online Voucher Scheme in particular has helped almost 5,000 small businesses both get online and improve their online presence since March.
“The opportunity to help even more businesses with this new announcement will no doubt have a similar impact,” Mr Geoghegan added.
Maura Quinn, chief executive of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland, said that the package will help businesses overcome the enormous challenges.
“It is vital, too, that all supports for business are fast-tracked and have in-built flexibility to be adjusted and refined during what still is, and will continue to be, an uncertain environment,” she said.
“Our recent surveys of business leaders have shown that they see Covid-19 as the most significant risk factor to their organisations, but Brexit also looms large on the horizon, and low consumer confidence is an additional threat.”