Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
County Enterprise Boards
Richard Bruton (Minister, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
The Deputy will be aware that the issue of restructuring the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) has been in the public domain since the publication of the McCarty Group Report in 2009 under the last Administration.
The CEB model has served the micro-enterprise sector in Ireland well over the years but there is also no doubt that some restructuring of that model is now required. There have been many changes to the social, economic and technological landscape of Ireland since the establishment of the Boards in 1993. I am of the view that it is timely and appropriate to re-structure, and re-focus, how the State delivers its support to the indigenous micro-enterprise sector given that this Sector will be vital to job creation and to overall economic recovery in Ireland.
Both I, and my officials, are currently seeking to determine the extent to which there should be restructuring of the County and City Enterprise Boards having regard to the Programme for Government, and to other recommendations on CEB restructuring, to the need to achieve a rational and focused model for entrepreneurs, as well as the need to ensure that there is targeted local delivery of enterprise support, driven by a national enterprise policy, in a manner which eliminates overlap and duplication.
In relation to funding, an annual Exchequer allocation is provided each year for the operation of the CEBs. The Exchequer allocation is made in the context of the overall public finances and in 2011 amounts to â‚¬27.242m, of which â‚¬15m in Capital is available for direct grants and training, mentoring and advice services to micro-enterprise clients. The bulk of the non-capital allocation to each CEB pays the salaries of the Business Advisors and other staff who provide direct advice and mentoring to client companies. This represents a strong investment in the micro-enterprise sector, notwithstanding the additional level of demand on CEB services generated in the current difficult economic climate.
The CEB Central Coordination Unit (within Enterprise Ireland) works closely with the CEBs throughout the year reviewing individual expenditures to ensure that the funding allocated to the CEBs is utilised to the maximum extent possible. It is a matter in the first instance for individual CEBs to determine how they will use allocated funds. Some Boards may choose to commit all of their available funding as projects present themselves, even if this means that their funding is committed relatively early in the year, while others may choose to reserve some funding until later in the year so that they are in a position to support other high quality projects that emerge at that time. Should it arise during the year that some Boards are not in a position to spend all of their annual allocation, for example where an approved grant is decommitted late in the year if the project has not started, it is reallocated to any Boards that are in a position to spend additional funds within the year.
There is undoubtedly a high level of demand on CEBs resources at present and the matter will continue to be monitored by the CEB Central Coordination Unit.