• Fingal Chamber Publishes Second Business Sentiment Survey 2022

    • Staff retention and recruitment continue to be the biggest challenge facing Fingal business.
    • Fingal’s competitiveness is at risk due to housing availability and soaring energy costs.
    • 70% of businesses have implemented energy-saving costs.
    • A positive outlook is predicted with many businesses expecting to see an increase in staff numbers, training, revenue, and profits. 

    Fingal Chamber has published the findings of its second Business Sentiment Survey of 2022.
    The survey which focused on business challenges, competitiveness, staff recruitment and retention, energy costs, energy saving, local Government supports and the outlook for the area was conducted over a two-week period recently looking at the immediate and short-term issues facing Fingal businesses.
    Of the total number of responses received from businesses in the region, 30% were from companies with 50+ employees, while 70% came from businesses ranging from one to 50 employees.

    Key findings:
    The key findings of the survey highlight that 32% of businesses said that staff retention and recruitment is their biggest challenge, 19% cited increasing energy costs as their biggest challenge while a further 18% said reducing costs was a challenge for them.

    The survey also showed that at 30% the availability of housing, availability of skills and talent (25), and transport issues (16%), will threaten the future competitiveness of Fingal according to local businesses.
    Business taxation levels and infrastructure (water, broadband, etc) were also highlighted as risks to Fingal’s competitiveness.

    More than 55% of respondents indicated they had experienced an increase in staff turnover in the past year.  Almost 65% of businesses said they had struggled to fill a specific skills gap over the past year.  A positive work culture (60%) and competitive salaries (51%) were cited as key incentives in attracting staff. 

    Almost 70% of businesses in Fingal said they had implemented energy-saving measures in the past 12 months while 30% said they had not implemented any measures.

    The range of energy-saving measures, in some cases, included the installation of solar panels, insulation, turning off appliances overnight, using resources more effectively, improved control of heating, staff awareness on energy saving such as switching off lights, timers, powering off equipment and regular zoom meetings in lieu of in person.

    “The findings of our second survey have not changed dramatically when compared to our last survey conducted in February this year,” according to Fingal Chamber Chief Executive, Anthony Cooney.

    “However, what is very troubling, particularly for smaller businesses, is rising inflation and energy costs.  Businesses had been getting back on their feet when the war in Ukraine happened to result in unrelenting rising energy and inflation costs.  This is simply unsustainable and could have a terminal impact on some businesses, in fact, it may finally be the tipping point for small businesses.

    “It is interesting to note that while over 50% of businesses said they are satisfied with supports offered by Fingal County Council, it is telling that the vast number of respondents are requesting Council support with spiraling energy costs,”
    he added.

    Businesses were asked what policies or changes they thought should be adopted by Fingal County Council to help their business.  As well as support for rising energy many respondents said they would like to see grants for switching to solar energy. A reduction/re-evaluation of rates, maintaining VAT at 9%, cost reduction rate support was a prominent theme for some respondents in the survey.

    Some businesses felt the Council is not listening to them and cited a lack of collaboration with them to understand the challenges they are facing. Some businesses also said that outdated, less onerous tendering procedures and quick decisions would really help them. Other respondents mentioned that improved availability and affordability of housing needs to be considered urgently. 
    Comments received in relation to this area will be shared with the Executive Team in Fingal County Council.
     
    Future outlook:
    “Despite the significant challenges facing businesses in the region the outlook is positive. How long it will stay that way remains to be seen as we have yet to feel the full effects of a harsh winter on energy costs.

    “The survey is a great temperature check of where Fingal businesses are at and what the immediate future holds and it forms the basis of our advocacy and policy work as we continue to champion the challenges facing businesses in Fingal,”
    concluded the Fingal Chamber Chief Executive.

    Fingal Chamber Skillnet can support businesses in addressing any skills deficit they may have. The Chamber is proud of its collaboration with Skillnet Ireland which specialises in providing technical and non-technical training across multiple sectors in the area. 

    The next Fingal Chamber Business Sentiment Survey will be conducted in Q1 2023.