In a shocking revelation on the floor of the Dáil, the Minister for Finance has coldly dismissed the plight of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the nation. Despite heartfelt pleas, the Minister confirmed there are “no plans to change the VAT rate… that is not going to happen,” leaving countless businesses teetering on the brink of closure without the lifeline they desperately need.

I, along with my colleagues the Regional Group TDs stand united in our frustration and disappointment, as we witness the devastating toll that high VAT and PRSI rates are taking on food businesses within the hospitality sector. With a critical Private Members Debate looming next Wednesday morning, there’s still a glimmer of hope that the government might reverse its stance and provide the essential support SMEs urgently require.

“We are calling for an immediate reduction in the VAT rate from the punitive 13.5% to a more manageable 9% for food businesses, aiming for relief before Easter. This is not just about numbers; it’s about survival. Our local retailers and restaurants, the heart of our towns and villages, are facing unprecedented challenges. Many have already been forced to shut down, not only costing precious jobs but also eroding the charm and vitality of our communities.

Local family-run businesses are more than just commercial entities; they are the cornerstones of community interaction and social cohesion. Their decline signifies not just an economic loss but a profound social one. The government’s failure to act not only jeopardises these enterprises but neglects the invaluable social fabric they weave in our lives. SMEs are not merely a segment of our economy; they are its very pulse.

As the debate approaches, the Regional Group of TDs are adamant about championing the cause of SMEs. Our motion is clear, it’s time to stand by the businesses that serve as the backbone of our local economies and communities. We cannot allow the government’s inaction to dim the vibrant spirit of our nation’s towns and villages.

Join us in this critical moment to demand action and support for our SMEs. Together, we can turn the tide and ensure the survival and thriving of our local businesses. The time to act is now!