SME Government satisfaction at highest level since 2012
Irish small and medium businesses are more satisfied with the Government's performance now than at any point since the trough of the recession, a new study has found.
The Government Satisfaction Survey from the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) for the final quarter of the year found SMEs' overall satisfaction with the Government is at its highest since the survey began in 2012.
The overall satisfaction rating increased nine points from +2 to +11.
The satisfaction rating is made up from four specific questions on the Government's performance in dealing with jobs, banking, business costs and overall performance.
On average, larger businesses were more satisfied than their smaller counterparts.
There was also a large increase in satisfaction ratings with the Government's handling of the jobs situation and the economy, which both received their highest scores since the survey's inception.
However, business costs and the Government's dealing with the banks continued to drag the ratings.
The reading for the banking sector decreased slightly, with ISME saying that a rise in declines has been noted in recent months.
The worst performing indicator was business costs, which ISME says is the most important category for its members. It fell from -47 to -52, leading ISME to express concern that Ireland is "rapidly losing its competitive edge".
ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said business costs must be reduced in order to increase national competitiveness. He also said external factors "continue to assist the economy", which he said is reflected in the country's growth rate.
"Favourable exchange rates, growth in our major export countries and low oil prices have given us a boost as we come out of the recession," Mr Fielding said.
"While we can benefit from these factors, they are completely outside of our control."
He added: "The factors within our control - business costs and access to finance - need much more work by Government and, if not addressed, will cause untold damage as the economic cycle unfolds."
The survey was conducted in the third week of December among 956 Irish SMEs.
Just under one third of the respondents were from Dublin while 59pc were spread across the country, with 9pc operating in multiple sites.