My Budget: ‘Unfair a small business like mine has same VAT rate as big’

‘People sitting at home on their couch shopping on their phone are killing small businesses’

Ahead of Tuesday’s budget The Irish Times will speak to people from different walks of life about what they would like to see introduced.

In 2012 Paul Lynam had lost his job and had a mortgage to pay so he decided to develop his woodworking pastime into a business. He started out making play houses and swing sets in his garage on his own.

Now in 2019 he and his wife Eimear have expanded the business to three separate strands - the garden furniture, a retail premises and a coffee shop and they have a staff of 19.

In Budget 2020 the main item on Lynam's wish list is a reduction in VAT for the hospitality sector, specifically for small enterprises such as his. "I don't think it's fair that big operations got the same VAT rate as small concerns like ours.


“This is a small business, the margins are very tight in a small coffee shop. I think there should be a happy medium. I understand that could be complicated but it is needed.”

He would also like to see some form of tax introduced for online purchases in a bid to drive customers back into local shops.

“I know it’s an unpopular thing to say, but the people sitting at home on their couch shopping on their phone or their laptop they are killing small businesses, they are taking money out of the town centres. It’s not just the Government’s fault. It’s all of us. That’s a huge problem.”

The Lynams' newest venture, which opened earlier this year, is a coffee shop and retail premises, the King Oak, on the outskirts of Tullamore. Shortly he will move the garden furniture business to the same location as they cannot keep both premises open.

“We won’t have a display yard, but a lot of the garden furniture and tree/play houses we sell through word of mouth. The playground in the King Oak is a showcase for our own work too.”

He would also like to see more efforts to encourage urban regeneration and to help small business owners take on staff. “Town centres are dying, more should be done to keep them alive through some sort of incentives,” he said.