Wednesday 16 October 2019

'Don't leave it too late': Ibec calls for €1.5bn jobs fund

Plan must be put in place now: Ibec chief economist Gerard Brady. Photo: Gary O' Neill
Plan must be put in place now: Ibec chief economist Gerard Brady. Photo: Gary O' Neill
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

A "comprehensive" €1.5bn package to stabilise the economy and protect jobs needs to be included in tomorrow's Budget to be in place before there's a hard Brexit, Ibec has warned.

Ibec chief economist Gerard Brady said in 2009 it took 10 months to get EU backing for a state aid framework to cope with the fall-out from the financial crisis.

If that was repeated with Brexit, it could be autumn 2020 before support can flow to businesses, "far too late to sustain enterprises and jobs".

The sectors most at risk from Brexit are concentrated in what are already the most economically disadvantaged parts of the country and disproportionately employ older workers, men and those with lower skill levels, Ibec warned.

For the worst-hit sectors, the Government should introduce an employment subsidy scheme worth €10,000 per job over 24 months to help firms in distress ride out a crisis.

Loan guarantee schemes, export credit to access new markets and funding for strategic planning should be made available for business that are viable, but could go under during the shock of a hard Brexit, Ibec said.

It is proposing a €500m-a-year, three-year package that it says should be in place in advance of a crash-out Brexit in order to be available as soon as required.

This time around, the Government should instead seek advance EU sign off to relax the state aid rules, Ibec said.

There are 243,000 workers employed in the sectors most directly exposed to Brexit - which include food and agriculture, but also manufacturing, retail, tourism, forestry, construction, energy, transport, utilities, and telecoms.

They are concentrated in rural regions where there are limited alternatives, and least concentrated in Dublin and other urban areas where the jobs market is deepest.

The older, less highly educated and mainly rural workers most likely to lose their jobs in a hard Brexit are also least likely to be those who can plug into the current jobs market, for specialist, highly skilled urban workers.

Irish Independent

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