The Restaurants Association of Ireland has warned that more restaurants will close and more jobs will be lost, especially in rural Ireland, if action is not taken to reduce local authority rates.
The association holds its AGM today in Dublin and has warned that rising rates are destroying small restaurants in rural communities.
A recent business survey carried out by the association found that most participants had experienced a rise in their rate charges in the last five years, despite poor trading conditions. The survey also noted that restaurateurs pay an average of €23,279 in rates a year, which contributes to making Ireland the most expensive country in Europe to run a restaurant.
The association also says that Irish restaurants pay the highest catering wage rate in Europe, while Ireland has the highest excise duty on wines in Europe and pays 24% more for food cost inputs than other European countries.
Annual water charges vary from up to €12,500 in urban areas to €5,000 in rural areas and these charges are set to rise with the introduction of Irish Water.
Restauranteurs also pay over €20,000 a year in waste charges and have to deal with 25 different agencies and authorities in the day to day running of their business, the association claims.
"Many restaurants, especially in rural areas, don’t see any return on the rates they pay. Issues like waste and water treatment, street maintenance and availability of parking should be managed more efficiently and effectively by local authorities, but restaurateurs are having to carry the high cost of these necessities," commented the Restaurants Association of Ireland's chief executive Adrian Cummins.
The Irish restaurant industry employs 64,000 people - or one in four tourism jobs - and contributes €2 billion to the economy each year.