Speech by Dan Neville TD on the Small Claims (Protection of Small Business Bill) 2009
I welcome the opportunity to support the Bill. Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the economy and my constituency. The economy of County Limerick is dependent on them. Even though we have big towns, we do not have large industries in towns such as Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Kilmallock. The economy is totally dependent on small businesses. Nationally, more than 800,000 people are employed in small small and medium-sized enterprises which contribute substantially to the economy. The increase in costs, including fuel and other business inputs, has significantly impacted on such enterprises and caused a level of job losses which is unacceptable.
Prompt payment by the Government and creditors is crucial. I spoke to a small businessman recently who told me that this was one of his difficulties. He told me also that organisations and companies which could afford to pay small businesses for services were not doing so and were using current circumstances to imply they were in difficulty. It is obvious that many of them are not in difficulty. There must be a mechanism, similar to the one outlined in the Bill, to ensure those who can should pay and not misuse current difficulties to delay payment and exert extra pressure on small and medium-sized businesses.
In recent months the Government has made the position worse with the increase in taxes and the absence of political leadership. On the issue of confidence, leadership is required from the Government. There is money in the economy. There are people working; some have increased wages and salaries, yet they are afraid to spend. They are worried about their future and that of their children. They are frightened of losing their jobs. The majority will not lose their jobs, but the failure of the Government to instill confidence in them to spend is one of the crucial issues affecting the current state of the economy and inhibiting an upturn.
There have been job losses in high profile industries. Dell in Limerick is located outside my constituency but a large number of people living in my constituency work there. The position at the company has severely affected us. There has also been a silent haemorrhaging of jobs from small and medium-sized enterprises across the country. This week we saw a considerable increase in unemployment in my constituency, most of which occurred in May in small and medium-sized industries.