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SFA seeks more support for the self-employed

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Mark Kellett, CEO of Magnet, (Right) and Patrick Kennedy of Amarach Research discussing the Magnet Regional Business Barometer, a study of 600 SMEs which showed that small firms in the Mid West and Dublin are most confident for the year ahead. Picture: Finbarr O'Rourke

The Small Firms Association has launched a campaign to have the Government end discrimination against self-employed and Proprietary Directors in the tax and social welfare systems in 2015.

The campaign has been launched by the organisation’s chairman, AJ Noonan, who says there is a real need to support people in embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, “as without the risk-taker / the owner-manager, no jobs can be created”.

“Therefore it is important that they are at least treated equally if not indeed more preferentially than employees,” said Mr Noonan.

Specifically, the SFA is advocating the introduction of its three point plan by Government to introduce a voluntary PRSI rate for the self-employed, to equalise how self-employed/ proprietary directors and employees are treated and to introduce a CGT rate for entrepreneurs selling their business.

“The PRSI rate should enable them to claim unemployment benefit should their business fail and would alleviate some of the risk associated with starting up a business. The scheme should run on an opt-in basis for already established businesses.

“Specifically the additional 3% USC on earnings above €100,000 for self-employed must be abolished. This was promised by the end of 2014, but the Government failed to deliver on this commitment in Budget 2015. In addition, the PAYE tax credit should be available to all who pay tax on a PAYE basis. Currently a self-employed person on €15,000 is six times worse off than the equivalent employee, because of this discrimination.

“For example, in the UK, you only pay 10% CGT if you sell or close all or part of a business, on condition you’ve held the share for at least a year and you are a director, partner or employee in the business. The existence of such a scheme in our closest competitor economy means that business HQs here will be moved to the UK prior to sale with the consequent loss of jobs here. Introducing a comparable rate here would give a tremendous boost to business sale and acquisitions activity.

“By focusing on the entrepreneurial sector, we can deliver real national and balanced regional growth. However this will only be possible if the Government implements our three-point plan,” he said.

Connacht Tribune

First grad class of manufacturing apprenticeship celebrated in Galway

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Gerard McMichael, Head of School GMIT, Paul O’Dowd GMIT, company representatives with apprentices, Carine Gachon GMIT, and Patrick Delassus GMIT.

A total of 29 Galway-led graduates made their own piece of history last week when they became the first cohort of manufacturing apprentices to complete a new route to their goal.

They have now succeeded in getting an engineering qualification by taking the apprenticeship route – a pathway that is brand new in Ireland.

They are the first class to graduate from the Manufacturing Engineering Apprenticeship (Level 6) – thanks to the Irish Medtech Association, the Ibec group which represents the sector, along with lead academic provider GMIT, the Higher Education Authority, and Solas, in Galway.

Ibec Medtech & Engineering Director, Sinead Keogh described the apprenticeship as ‘a radical modernisation from the traditional apprenticeships’ which offers new routes to high-tech manufacturing industries.

“I would like to congratulate the 29 graduates on their achievement along with participating businesses in Galway which includes Boston Scientific, Fort Wayne Metals and Zimmer Biomet. This unique programme is essential to future proof Ireland’s worldclass manufacturing,” she said.

Chair of the Manufacturing Apprenticeship Consortium Barry Comerford explained that the apprenticeship programme had given participants the opportunity to gain qualifications by studying subjects such as computer aided design, engineering science, and lean manufacturing.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Line rental just dead money

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Stephen Brewer

Galway businesses are needlessly paying over €3.5m in phone line rental – a facility that telecoms expert Stephen Brewer says is now as relevant as paying for a fax machine.

The former Apple board member believes that Irish companies are wasting money on line rental when technology allows them to host their business lines in the cloud, providing a far better service at a much cheaper price.

“There are over 14,500 businesses in Galway, the majority of whom are needlessly paying €20.96 per month to rent a phone line which is as relevant to modern business communications as a fax machine,” said the Managing Director Ireland of Magnet Networks.

“Even if each business only had one line, that is over €3.5m in rental a year across the county – without one call being made,” he said.

Mr Brewer was speaking at the launch of Magnet Talk, a hosted system which he claims should change the way in which business phone systems operate in Ireland.

Magnet Talk is based on a €9.95 monthly fee per user, including all the call minutes an average business will need, and runs over any provider’s existing broadband lines.

“If every business had this, it would cost businesses in Galway €1.7m for all call needs – saving over €1.9m annually,” added Mr Brewer.

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Connacht Tribune

Hotels voice concern over visitor levels

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IHF Galway branch chairman, Nigel Canavan

Hotels and guesthouses in Galway have voiced concerns about tourism performance this year and the challenges facing the sector – most notably over Brexit and increasing costs of doing business.

That’s on foot of the latest national industry survey from the Irish Hotels Federation, which revealed that 57% of hotels have seen a fall in overall business levels over this time last year – albeit that 33% reported an increase.

Business levels from the UK in particular remain very challenging for hotels, largely as a result of uncertainty around Brexit and the marked drop in the value of Sterling in recent years.

Some 78% of hotels across the country have seen a fall-off in business from Great Britain compared to last year while 60% report a decrease in business from Northern Ireland.

And 64% of hoteliers report that the weakness in the value of Sterling has had a negative impact on business levels while risks associated with Brexit have resulted in 73% re-examining investment plans and taking a more cautious approach for next year.

While tourism business from North America and the domestic market were stronger, results for these markets were very mixed: 36% of hoteliers report an increase in business from North America (30% report a decrease from this market) while 45% report an increase in business from Irish domestic tourism (30% report a decrease from this market).

IHF Galway branch chairman, Nigel Canavan warned that the industry was at a crossroads.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City  and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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