Cork is in need of increased infrastructure and social investment in order to accommodate the anticipated population growth in the coming years, according to business group Ibec. The Government’s Project Ireland 2040 predicts that the population of Cork city and suburbs will grow by between 105,000 and 125,000 people, an increase of 50-60% by 2040. Ibec is calling for a substantial portion of budget surpluses to be allocated to a new National Infrastructure Fund, with a proposed target of an additional €30 billion for infrastructure spending nationwide by 2030.
Ibec recently held a meeting with its members in Cork to discuss the upcoming budget, which is scheduled to be presented on October 10th. Helen Leahy, the head of regional policy with Ibec, emphasized that delaying investment in the short term to mitigate the risk of overheating would hinder future economic expansion and negatively impact Ireland’s long-term competitiveness. She highlighted the importance of maintaining momentum for essential projects in Cork, such as the €3.5 billion transport strategy and the proposed €350 million Docklands rejuvenation project.
Ibec stated that, despite remaining optimistic about business sentiment, its members in Cork are concerned about increasing the county’s capacity and rising operating costs. They believe these are the main issues that need to be addressed in Budget 2024. The group emphasized the need for the budget to recognize the additional costs imposed on employers by government policies, such as increases to the minimum wage and the introduction of pensions auto-enrolment. Ibec estimates that these measures will add 4.7% to the wage bill across various sectors of the economy by 2026.
Ibec is calling for transition support for businesses that will be most affected by these changes, including the introduction of a temporary PRSI credit for lower-earning workers relative to the increases in weekly labor costs. In its budget submission, Ibec stressed the importance of creating greater economic capacity through infrastructural and social investment. The group believes that a lack of investment has led to congestion in access to housing and infrastructure.
Overall, Ibec’s message is clear: Cork needs increased investment in infrastructure and social projects to keep up with the anticipated population growth. The group is urging the government to allocate a substantial portion of budget surpluses to a new National Infrastructure Fund, with a proposed target of €30 billion for infrastructure spending nationwide by 2030. Ibec also highlights the need for the upcoming budget to address the concerns of its members in Cork, including increasing the county’s capacity and rising operating costs. The group believes that failure to invest in the short term will hinder future economic expansion and negatively impact Ireland’s long-term competitiveness.