Many businesses could now be forced to close through a lack of supports, the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) said after Budget 2024 was unveiled. It said the Government failed to sufficiently help small and medium-sized hospitality.
The representative body said the Government had not taken the industry’s views into account, notably regarding a return of a 9 per cent VAT rate.
“The hospitality and food-led sector has time and time again warned the Government that, by increasing the VAT rate for our industry to 13.5 per cent, it will be issuing a death warrant to many businesses,” said RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins. “It has also failed to take meaningful action to support food-led businesses with the exorbitant energy costs they continue to face.”
It criticised the lack of a “meaningful” replacement for the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme.
The association had also lamented a lack of packaged supports for those businesses struggling in areas experiencing large reductions in footfall and tourism due to the accommodation of refugees.
As with other businesses, concerns were also expressed regarding an increase in the minimum wage and paid sick leave entitlements, as well as the planned rollout of the pension auto-enrolment scheme.
“The Government instead delivered piecemeal that will not be enough to keep many small and medium-sized businesses open,” said the association in a stinging rebuke of Tuesday’s announcements.
Separately, the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland said pubs and the sector in general were disappointed at the Government’s failure to include a reduction in excise duty on alcohol.
The group’s chairwoman Kathryn D’Arcy said a combination of rising costs, the recent VAT rise and the second-highest excise duties in Europe, left the sector in need of a renewed policy focus.
“Regrettably, Budget 2024 has failed to grasp this,” said Ms D’Arcy. “We put forward a costed, stepped plan which would reduce excise rates over the next two years, serving to underpin a sector which is a major employer and contributor to the social fabric of every town and village.”