Putting Place First – Government Budget 2021 stimulus must restore the health of our towns and cities

Sep 10, 2020

Chambers Ireland today (10 September 2020), launches its submission to Government detailing recommendations to be included in Budget 2021 and the longer term National Economic Plan.

Aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Chambers Ireland Budget 2021 Submission makes a series of recommendations that will support businesses to trade through the Pandemic through enabling our town centres and local economies to recover. It also emphasises the importance of investment in infrastructure, the low carbon transition, and the delivery of affordable homes.

Speaking today, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,

“Budget 2021 will be published in circumstances that would have been unimaginable at the outset of this year. The Irish economy faces tremendous challenges as it continues to suffer the impact of a global health pandemic. Unfortunately, that is not the only threat on the horizon. We could very well be facing a no-deal trading relationship with the UK from January.

This Budget must address the underlying challenges to the economy. Even in February, when job creation was at an all-time high, this prosperity was not being felt in all parts of the country. Under-investment in infrastructure, particularly housing, was felt keenly across society, to the detriment of our quality of life. This is becoming a significant threat to our competitiveness and the sustainability of our economic recovery.

The only way we can collectively face down these challenges is to ensure that we invest. This means investing in climate resilient infrastructure and new technologies that will ensure we can decarbonise. It means we must enable and empower our SMEs – the drivers of economic growth in communities across the country – to continue to compete and remain productive throughout the crisis. Most importantly, it means investing in the places where we live and work, so that town and city centres can thrive.

Our submission calls on Government to put “Place” at the heart of its vision for Ireland. Budget 2021, and the new Legislative Programme, must be ambitious for the regions and the millions of people who live in the hinterlands of our cities and beyond. The need for balanced regional development and investment cannot be understated. As a first step, we call for the establishment of an inter-departmental Taskforce on Town Centres to address vacancies, build active transport infrastructure, and support urban living.

If our town and urban centres are to have any chance of recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, we need to see better joined up thinking, linking in planning, local government, transport and housing policy. Urban centres must be good places to live, if they are going to be decent places to do business.

Brexit, combined with the continued economic fallout from the pandemic, will make the work of the 33rd Dáil and the new Government even more challenging. As the consequences of these challenges unfold, we will be working closely with our members to ensure that their voices are heard.”

 

-ENDS- 

For further information contact Gabriel Doran, Communications and Media Executive on gabriel.doran@chambers.ie
or phone 01 400 4331, 086 608 1605

 Further Notes

The Chambers Ireland pre-Budget Submission makes a range of recommendations ahead of Budget 2021 and are detailed under five of the SDGs. The following is a snapshot of some of the main priorities for our members for 2021.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Resource a Government’s Town Centre Initiative for urban spaces across the country which focuses on the development of economically, socially and actively healthy streets in our cities and towns which will be essential for the wellbeing of our country
  • Expand the Living City Initiative (LCI) to include long-term vacant commercial properties built post-1915 in the cities and towns specified in the NPF and reformed to include acquisition costs of LCI qualifying properties

Decent Work and Economic Growth:

  • Extend the waiver on commercial rates for impacted business to 12 months, with the shortfall in funding to be refunded to Local Authorities by central Government
  • Create a new Wage Subsidy Scheme which can be specifically targeted at the self-employed and sole traders
  • Expand grants so that non-Rate payers are eligible to apply
  • Review and reform the existing e-working allowance to support workers and employers who are continuing to engage in remote working

Climate Action

  • Ringfence all Exchequer returns from Carbon Tax and strategically invest in green infrastructure, public transport, and funds that will support communities to transition to green transport and heating alternatives

Infrastructure, Industry and Innovation

  • Commit increased investment in the electricity grid to ensure that it is future-proofed and allocate funding to support research into how the gas-networks can also be future proofed to transition from the delivery of natural gas, to hydrogen
  • Direct strategic investment into one or more Irish ports for the construction of offshore wind farms to take maximum advantage of the Programme for Government’s commitment to delivering 5GW of offshore wind by 2030

Gender Equality

Increase investment in childcare services, early education infrastructure and schools that are reopening to facilitate breakfast clubs and after school childcare in all parts of the country to help working parents and mitigate against the reduction in supply of childcare places that has arisen from Covid-19

o    March COVID-19 Business Community Survey Results Report – Published 24 March 2020

o    April COVID-19 Business Community Survey Results Report – Published 9 April 2020

o    April COVID-19 Business Community Survey on ‘Rebooting the Economy’ Results Report – Published 30 April 2020

o    Sectoral & Regional Impact Research from ‘Rebooting the Economy’ Results Report – Published 8 May 2020

o    June COVID-19 Business Community Survey on Phase 1 Experiences Results Report – Published 10 June 2020

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