Michael Lowry TD

Hospitality sector needs support - Lowry

Referring to his previous representations to Government concerning the dramatic level of closures across the hospitality and SME Sector, Deputy Michael Lowry told the Dáil last week that figures for closures ‘make for grim reading’ and it is absolutely crucial and essential that the Government brings forward a survival package for this sector.

“A number of Government decisions had unintended consequences and if not revisited the shutters will fall on many more cafes, restaurants shops and vital community hubs. The sector is reeling from the perfect storm. A huge increase in operational costs, combined with the soaring cost of living, has sounded the death knell for these small businesses.

“Higher food prices, increased energy prices and rising insurance costs are a major challenge. Automatic Pension Enrolment, raised PRSI contributions and additional Bank Holidays combine to elevate staff costs.

“The costs of running businesses will further escalate next year as a result of changes brought about in Budget 2024, including the Minimum Wage increase and the increase in the number of days for paid sick leave entitlement. These challenges are compounded by the VAT rate increase from 9% to 13.5% in September.”

In response, Minister of State, Neal Richmond, whose brief includes Employment Affairs and Retail Business, said the Government made the correct decision in terms of increasing the minimum wage, but this does come at a cost to employers. He said that Minister Coveney was in discussions with the hospitality sector on what he accepts are increasing levels of costs, with many of these down to market issues such as energy costs and Interest Rates. “We’re looking at all options. No closure is a good closure and we want to ensure that we keep viable businesses open.”