Cork Chamber welcome government's promise on salaries; but say more needs to be done

Cork Chamber welcome government's promise on salaries; but say more needs to be done
Signs on Cork business premises in Oliver Plunkett street, Cork Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Cork Chamber has said that the government's promise on salaries during the COVID-19 pandemic is a “crucial step” but has said more needs to be done to ease cashflow issues for businesses.

The government are to introduce scaled funding of up to 70% of salaries, up to a maximum of €38,000 per year.

It comes as 70% of businesses in Cork are expecting to experience reduced cashflow and reduced revenue, not only in the short term but also in the medium to long term.

A survey conducted by Cork Chamber amongst member businesses showed that in the short term staffing reductions, layoffs, and reduced working hours are being experienced by 50% of businesses.

Business owners expect these issues to rise to 61% in the medium to long term.

Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy said: “We have been advocating on behalf of members for a move to keep those who can work in work and this step is a positive directional shift for government that is aligned with business thinking.

“Our recent Chamber survey clearly shows a move from 50% to 60% of respondents predicting staff reductions, layoffs and reduced working hours in the medium term and this may help address the severity of measures taken,” he said.

However, he has said that there is still a need for greater measures to ease the totality of cashflow.

“Cash flow measures such as VAT, PRSI, commercial rates, rent, mortgages and loan repayments all need to effectively be underwritten by the government for a minimum of six months as three months will not be sufficient. For example, the current deferral of commercial rates is notionally helpful but does not go far enough,” Mr Healy said.

“We must also commit now to medium term measures that will help build our recovery. We must keep the National Development Plan projects moving forward to ensure the construction sector remains ready for the challenges of housing and infrastructural delivery as the economy recovers. We cannot afford to let this sector falter like in the last downturn or we will compound societal and economic issues all the more,” he concluded.

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