Housing is the top priority for businesses in the capital ahead of Budget 2022, but they have also called on the Government to provide support for cycling infrastructure as well as to accelerate upgrades to the Dart and the Luas.
The proposals were put to the Government on Tuesday as part of Dublin Chamber’s pre-budget submission.
The top concern related to housing, as the chamber called on the State to double public capital investment in the sector, and to target urban areas in order to deliver “appropriate accommodation and ease pressure on the private market”.
Dublin Chamber chief executive Mary Rose Burke said: "Housing is now the top concern for 71 per cent of businesses in Dublin. The availability and affordability of housing remains the most immediate threat to cost competitiveness in the Greater Dublin Area.
“This also poses a challenge to maintaining our FDI competitiveness in the future. To tackle the housing crisis, the State needs to play a central role rather than a merely supplementary one.
“Social housing policy needs to shift definitively from reliance on acquisition and rental support to the construction of purpose-built affordable homes on a large scale.
“The Government should take advantage of the positive borrowing environment and double investment in housing to €4 billion in 2022.”
The chamber also called on the Government to extend some Covid-19 business supports, while continuing “a gradual withdrawal” of others, “with a schedule of reductions to allow for financial planning”.
In this context, it called for an extension of the commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses, as well as the roll-out of new finance facilities in the form of long-term credit to boost business liquidity.
Dublin Chamber also called for the introduction of a 20 per cent Capital Gains Tax rate on disposals of investments in SMEs to boost investment in Irish enterprise.
On the environment, it called for the introduction of a “going green” tax credit to encourage adoption of sustainable business practices, and to accelerate the carbon tax timeline.
It also asked the Government to provide new grant aid for SMEs to cover the costs of new cycling related facilities. “Covid-19 has proved a positive catalyst for rapid roll-out of cycle infrastructure across Dublin,” the submission said.
“However, most SMEs, unlike some larger firms, simply do not have the bike storage, shower, and changing facilities to accommodate a major shift to cycling by their employees. They also face liquidity issues and cost constraints that do not burden many larger firms.
“In the absence of funding to address these constraints, it is unlikely the authorities’ cycling targets will be met. To make the proposed modal shift more realistic, support for SMEs should be introduced.
“In addition to new public bike storage, Budget 2022 should make new grant aid available specifically for SMEs to cover the costs of new cycling-related infrastructure on private commercial premises.”
The chamber also said the Dart+ expansion programme represents a “sorely needed upgrade” to the commuter rail service in the Greater Dublin Area, which would also act as “the first corner stone of a national electrification programme”.
“While this is budgeted for completion by 2030/31 under the current National Development Plan, the revision of the NDP this year offers an opportunity to accelerate the timeline to 2027, for delivery in conjunction with MetroLink,” it said.
Furthermore, it described the Luas as “a vital part” of the transport infrastructure in Dublin and said plans for the extension to Finglas, alongside extensions to Bray, Lucan and Poolbeg, “should be accelerated”.