Start-ups commissioner ‘left toppled and tragic’ by Budget 2017

13 Oct 2016

Budget 2017. Image: Patricia Soon/Shutterstock

Commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell has slammed the Irish Government’s 2017 budget, saying nothing has happened for her industry.

Niamh Bushnell’s response to the Budget is one of emphatic disappointment, and is dismayed in particular by the decision of the Irish Government to delay any tax changes to share-option payments until 2018.

This is, Bushnell said, despite a summer of “well-rounded submissions and public consultations” that left the Department of Finance “inundated”.

Future Human

Budget 2017

Budget 2017 a let-down

“The start-up and SME community collectively spent so much time and energy explaining the urgency for change to share options, and we thought we’d finished the job by serving up solutions to help our companies,” said Bushnell.

“Yet after all of that, nothing’s happened.”

Earlier this week, EY said it was “disappointed” at the delay in introducing a new share payments scheme and also about the retention of the €1m CGT limit.

“A €1m cap won’t drive greater ambition in our start-ups, improve our competitiveness, or attract more Brexit bashed companies to our shores,” said Bushnell.

“It’s so low that one of my fellow panelists at the Irish Tax Institute briefing yesterday morning called it ‘farcical’ and I agreed.”

Indeed, start-ups being overlooked is a theme that has emerged from discussions post-Budget. Serial investor and entrepreneur Brian Caulfield told that the likelihood of Irish start-ups locating in the UK to avail of more beneficial and realistic tax treatment is no mere threat.

Not a flood

“It is not a flood but it is definitely happening,” he said, noting the UK’s Enterprise Investment Scheme, “which makes early-stage capital much more readily available in the UK”, as particularly appealing.

Bushnell argues that a unified voice is needed but, for whatever reason, the people behind the creation of “two-thirds” of Ireland’s new jobs have yet to come together in any form of effective lobby, unlike other groups such as Irish farmers.

“[Start-ups lack] a voice that for months before the budget goes door to door, TD by TD, across and up and down the country,” she said. “That’s what the Irish Farmers’ Association has done for decades and that’s what secures priority.”

Saying there’s little to benefit and little to harm, overall, the budget falls short of anything near positivity for Bushnell.

“The 2017 budget likely helps none of us very much, unless, as Brian Dobson quipped yesterday, you’re a non-smoking fisherman, buying a house and driving a Prius, who has just inherited a raised bog from your family,” she said.

“If that’s you, your time has come my friend. For the rest of us, the real work continues on.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic