Welcome to the July News Update 2014

Featured in this months edition of the news update we inform you about E-Day approaching and advise companies to prepare for it, with the hot weather we speak about appropriate dress attire in the workplace, we answer many questions surrounding managing employees annual leave and Skills to Work Campaign - a new government initiative to inform people about what options are there for them if they want to re-skill.

We also inform you of AIB’s recent announcement of a €200 million fund to support exporting companies, Green Enterprise is now open for funding proposals for SMEs, the most recent edition of the Consumer Monitor which studies consumers behaviors is available and the recent Late Payments interest rate change that companies need to be aware of.

Also featured is the SFA Pre-Budget Submission 2015 “The Path to Growth”, which outlines our priorities for what the Minister for Finance should take heed of for SMEs in the up and coming budget 2015 in October.  We keep you updated on our media activities over the last month and brief you on up and coming events of interest that you should pencil into your diary.

Please do keep me informed of any issues that concern you.

Kind regards

Patricia Callan
SFA Director


SFA Annual Subscription
 
SFA membership is an important asset to your business and if you have not already done so, could I ask you to please remit your annual subscription by return. My sincere thanks to the...

SFA membership is an important asset to your business and if you have not already done so, could I ask you to please remit your annual subscription by return. My sincere thanks to the many companies who have already responded with their 2014 subscriptions.  If you have not received your 2014 invoice please email info@sfa.ie .

Please note that you can renew your subscription on-line by clicking here or by credit transfer, the bank details are:

Bank:  Bank of Ireland

Bank Address:  2 College Green, Dublin 2

Account Name:  SFA / Ibec

Bank Account:  10025922

Sort Code:  90-00-17

BIC:  BOFIIE2D

IBAN:  IE97BOFI90001710025922

Vat Number:  IE 0051524W

From Thursday, 6th of February 2014, all individual company passwords to www.sfa.ie were disabled to the members only area of the website.  This will only be re-enabled on receipt of subscription.

E Day – 19th September 2014
 
E-day 19th September 2014 is the date, after which, the public sector will no longer write cheques to businesses or accept cheques from businesses.  The focus of E-Day will be to encourage SMEs to migrate from cheque usage. E-Day will not directly...

E-day 19th September 2014 is the date, after which, the public sector will no longer write cheques to businesses or accept cheques from businesses.  The focus of E-Day will be to encourage SMEs to migrate from cheque usage. E-Day will not directly affect consumer use of cheques, as the public sector will only discontinue writing/accepting cheques to/from businesses.  The National Payments Plan targets savings of up to €1 billion per annum which can be achieved through a shift to electronic payments.

If you are a business currently being paid by, or paying, public sector bodies, you will need to check with them what alternative options will be accepted.  Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Direct Debit and Payment Card options are among the alternatives that will be offered by impacted Government Departments and Offices, State Agencies and Local Authorities. Each of these will advise its customers on what options will be available.

If you have specific questions on E-Day please contact Aviné McNally on Tel: 01 065 1633 or email: avine.mcnally@sfa.ie.

Managing Employees Annual Leave
 
The area of annual leave for some companies can be a confusing matter with questions arising such as what if an employee joins a company during the year, what if they are not taking their annual...

The area of annual leave for some companies can be a confusing matter with questions arising such as what if an employee joins a company during the year, what if they are not taking their annual leave can I just pay them instead, are just some of the questions that are asked.   The SFA have a guide with some of the most frequently asked questions on annual leave. 

To download a copy of the guide please click here.

Government Jobs Campaign – Skills to Work
 
Skills to Work is a new Irish Government jobs campaign aimed at making it easier for employers and jobseekers to know what Government skills initiatives are available to them. If you are...

Skills to Work is a new Irish Government jobs campaign aimed at making it easier for employers and jobseekers to know what Government skills initiatives are available to them. If you are interested in training or reskilling all you have to do is to complete a quick and easy guide in less than one minute to find out which of five Government skills initiatives - Springboard, Momentum, JobBridge, JobsPlus and Skillnets – are best suited to you.

There is also a roadshow taking place in September and October in Cork and Dublin to inform employers and jobseekers of the initiatives that are available to them. 

For further information on these different initiatives and what dates the roadshow will take place on please click here.

4 Weeks Unpaid Work Placement Opportunities – DCU/Oscail MSc
 
Springboard are looking for companies to host DCU/Oscail MSc Springboard students for a 4 week unpaid placement opportunity.  All participants on these programmes are mature, self-directed, motivated and many have extensive work experience in commercial environments.  They will be...

Springboard are looking for companies to host DCU/Oscail MSc Springboard students for a 4 week unpaid placement opportunity.  All participants on these programmes are mature, self-directed, motivated and many have extensive work experience in commercial environments. They will be able to successfully fit into an existing team or undertake/ manage a specific project for the host company. These students are based throughout Ireland and are distant learners with DCU Oscail.  The profile of these students is:

 -  MSc in the Management of Operations (MOPS)

Graduates of this programme have highly developed skills for operations management and business development in high technology services or manufacturing environments. Core skills include Operations Management, Change Management, Project Management, Services Management, Business Analyst and Team Leadership Skills.

 -  MSc in the Management of Internet Enterprise Systems (MIES)

Graduates of this programme have highly developed skills in areas such as cloud computing and social networking and can manage and apply key Web 2.0 technologies in societal and commercial environments. Core Skills include IT Contracts Management, IT Service Management, IT Programme Management and Project Management, Database Administrator roles.

In summary this placement programme offers companies:

  •  Opportunity to avail of a skilled MSc. Student for 4 week unpaid placement
  •  A DCU Liaison officer will work with the student and the host company to ensure a positive experience for both the employer and the student.
  •  Host companies can pre-screen potential participants to ensure that the participant recruited will meet the employer’s needs. 

For further information on obtaining one of these students, please contact Helen Conway on Tel: 01 7006059 or e-mail helen.conway@dcu.ie.

Ibec Consumer Monitor 2014
 
Rising employment, strong consumer sentiment and recovering retail sales all now point toward a solid recovery in the consumer economy. For the latest data on the Irish consumer...

Rising employment, strong consumer sentiment and recovering retail sales all now point toward a solid recovery in the consumer economy. For the latest data on the Irish consumer, please click here to download the Ibec Consumer Monitor publication.

AIB announces €200 million fund to support exporting companies
 
AIB Exports Outlook Report was recently published which shows that exports account for almost 40% of total SME turnover last year, a total of 65% of respondents expect improved export sales, while 30% plan to export to new markets in 2014. Almost 40% of the SMEs say that...

AIB Exports Outlook Report was recently published which shows that exports account for almost 40% of total SME turnover last year, a total of 65% of respondents expect improved export sales, while 30% plan to export to new markets in 2014. Almost 40% of the SMEs say that staff levels will increase, while close to two in three expect an increase in turnover this year.

To support exporting SMEs, AIB announced a number of initiatives:

  • The establishment of a team of 85 Export Finance Specialists located nationwide. These specialists will provide export customers, with a local expert who will provide practical export information, and access to teams of product specialists within Treasury, Trade Finance and Commercial Finance
  • The launch of a €200 million SME Export Finance Fund. This will support the provision of multiple export finance products including working capital and loan finance for Irish exporters
  • Partnership with DHL to support exporters international logistics requirements to overseas markets. This will include a 50% discount on DHL Express standard tariffs for international shipping for 12 months for all AIB exporting customers.

A copy of the report and other reports in the series are available by clicking here

Green Enterprise Funding Proposals Now Open for SMEs
 

Green Enterprise challenges organisations & companies to produce goods and provide services in more environmentally friendly ways and to minimise emissions through cleaner production methods. The objective is to achieve a balance between economic activity and environmental protection.  The long-term aim...


Green Enterprise challenges organisations & companies to produce goods and provide services in more environmentally friendly ways and to minimise emissions through cleaner production methods. The objective is to achieve a balance between economic activity and environmental protection.

The long-term aim of Green Enterprise is to ensure that cleaner greener production and eco-efficiency become the established norm in Ireland. Green Enterprise provides grant aid to demonstration type projects across all sectors of economic activity in Ireland and is open to proposals from companies of all sectors, institutions and public bodies.

Projects should focus on any of the following themes:

  • Sustainable Production
  • Improving the Environmental Performance of      Products and Services
  • Improving the Environmental Performance of      Organisations/Sectors
  • Green      Procurement and Supply Chains

Applications related to food production, processing, distribution and consumption will be particularly welcome.  The maximum amount of funding is €60,000 per company.  SMEs can receive up to 75% in grant aid and the participant company/organisation must be located in the Republic of Ireland. 

For further information on applying for funding please click here.

Workplace Dress Code during the Hot Weather
 
If your employee’s workplace summer attire starts looking more like a day at the seaside than a day at the office, it may be time to re-enforce your dress code.  Most company dress codes depending on...

If your employee’s workplace summer attire starts looking more like a day at the seaside than a day at the office, it may be time to re-enforce your dress code.  Most company dress codes depending on the working environment people are based in, will be respectful, formal, smart office attire or those that may need to wear a uniform or special protective clothing equipment may need to be reminded in this weather of the rules and what is appropriate to wear and not wear.  For this reason it may be helpful to provide employees with a friendly reminder of the organisation’s dress code during this hot weather.

Companies have reputations, images and health and safety regulations to uphold at all stages throughout the year therefore it is important that dress codes are adhered to. 

Members who have specific queries on this matter can contact a member of the SFA Team on Tel: 01 605 1633/1664/1668 or email info@sfa.ie.

 

Late Payments Legislation - Interest Rate Change as of the 1st July 2014
 
Under the Late Payment in Commercial Transactions Regulations, interest at the rate of the European Central Bank rate plus 8% can be applied to payments made after a 30 day payment period has expired (in the absence of a written contract specifying an alternative payment period).  As of 1st July 2014, the current rate is...

Under the Late Payment in Commercial Transactions Regulations, interest at the rate of the European Central Bank rate plus 8% can be applied to payments made after a 30 day payment period has expired (in the absence of a written contract specifying an alternative payment period).  As of 1st July 2014, the current rate is 8.15%, which equates to a daily rate of 0.022%.  Penalty interest due for late payments should be calculated on a daily basis.

A copy of the SFA Guide on Late Payments can be downloaded by clicking here. 

A copy of the SFA template “Terms & Conditions of Trade” can be downloaded by clicking here

For specific queries on late payments, please contact the SFA, Tel: 01-605 1633/1664/1668 or e-mail: info@sfa.ie.

 

SFA Annual Lunch 2014 – Guest of Honour President Michael D. Higgins
 

The SFA Annual Lunch, sponsored by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Supporting Irish Companies, will take place in the Concert Hall, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 on Friday, 10th October 2014.  We are delighted to announce that the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins is our Guest of Honour this year, and will deliver a special message to the small business community. This represents a fantastic networking opportunity and I would urge all member companies to be represented.  We expect tickets to sell out quickly as this venue has confined numbers, so book early to avoid disappointment.

If you wish to reserve a table or place, please contact Aisling Heaton at Tel: 01 605 1668 or e-mail: aisling.heaton@sfa.ie.

 

SFA National Small Business Awards 2015
 

The eleventh SFA National Small Business Awards will be officially launched in September by Awards Patron An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD.  The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland, and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business sector to Irish industry.  Categories to enter are Manufacturing, Food and Drink, Services, Innovator of the Year, Environmental Sustainability, Small Business Exporter of the Year, Outstanding Small Business and Emerging New Business. 

If you would like to pre-register your interest or nominate a company in entering the 2015 Awards Programme, please click here.

For further details on the Awards, contact Alan Sherlock, Tel: 01-6051664 or email alan.sherlock@sfa.ie.

Meet the Buyer Event – Wednesday 13th August
 

Enterprise Ireland in partnership with the National Development Finance Agency will host a Meet the Buyer event in relation to supply chain opportunities on the DIT Grangegorman campus development on Wednesday 13th August in City West Hotel, commencing at 09.15.

All of the event details and registration link can be found by clicking here.

Further information is available from Orlagh Murphy, Enterprise Ireland on Tel: 01 7272965 or email: Orlagh.murphy@enterprise-ireland.com.

SFA Pre-Budget 2015 Submission "The Path to Growth"
 

In the SFA’s Pre-Budget 2015 Submission to Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, TD, we argue that the fiscal adjustment should only deliver the minimum net fiscal adjustment package needed to reach the 2.9% fiscal deficit target, and not the €2billion previously planned.  This would enable the government to put more money back in people’s pockets and boost consumption and investment which will lead to growth.  Our policy priorities include: 

SUPPORT INVESTMENT AND JOBS THROUGH THE TAX SYSTEM

  1. Enhance the EIIS by broadening the criteria and rebranding;
  2. Reform CGT Entrepreneur’s Relief;
  3. Reduce CGT to 20%;
  4. Reintroduce lower rate of PRSI for Employers;
  5. Amend Foreign Earnings Deduction scheme for small firms;
  6. Introduce R&D Tax Credit “Lite” Scheme;
  7. Extend the 9% special VAT rate and cap all other consumer taxes;
  8. Increase the VAT Cash Receipts basis threshold to €2.5mn;
  9. Reform Local Property Tax to make it more equitable and boost consumer spending.

TAXATION OF WORK

Reduce taxes on work by increasing the entry point to the marginal tax rate to €34,800 and reducing the marginal rate to 40%; and dropping the pensions levy.  Incentivise more risk-takers setting up their own businesses through expiring the 3% USC surcharge for the self-employed as planned; equalising the PAYE tax credit for proprietary directors and introducing voluntary PRSI contributions for self-employed to access unemployment and illness benefits.

DON’T INCREASE THE COST OF EMPLOYMENT

Irish labour costs are 11th highest in Europe, 16% above the EU average and 30.8% more than our nearest competitor, the UK. Government changes in PRSI, illness benefit, redundancy rebate, health insurance and general taxation all impact negatively.  No further costs can be imposed through Budget 2015.

MAKE WORK ATTRACTIVE

Remove social welfare traps on recipients coming back to work and taking up additional hours.  Maintain successful JobBridge and Jobs Plus schemes.

EXPENDITURE PRIORITIES

Increase capital spending on infrastructure.  Reduce current spending through real efficiency-led public sector reform.

 
You can download the full submission by clicking here

For further information, please contact Patricia Callan at Tel: 01-6051602 or e-mail: patricia.callan@sfa.ie .

SFA in the Media
 

During the month of June, the SFA featured in the media announcing the results from our Q1 2014 Business Sentiment Survey.  Commenting on the figures, SFA Director, Patricia Callan said, “Business confidence levels have shown further improvement in the first quarter of 2014 and while the environment remains challenging, the business performance is encouraging and companies are looking to the future with an increasing sense of optimism.”  To see the results of the survey and to read the press release on it, please click here.

On the 11th June, the SFA and the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) launched our “Mentors Without Borders” programme.  Speaking at the launch, SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan stated “The mission of the programme is to connect leaders and entrepreneurs from countries around the world in active dialogue about challenges in their business, enabling them to create and implement solutions. Participants will develop the skills that one can’t find in the classroom – sharing the challenges mentors have faced and their lessons learnt throughout their careers and working to find solutions to current problems for Irish small business owners.”  To read the full press release, please click here.

We also spoke about the issues of SME access to credit and the supports available.  To see one of our press clippings on this please click here.