Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Taoiseach): Statements
I thank the Taoiseach. My second question concerns employment. I agree with Deputy Micheál Martin's earlier statement that we have not really fine-tuned small business supports to make this work. Part of what we should be considering is allowing for a bottom up response where the State provides grants, financing or loans. There could be a whole variety of different supports. We are probably going to see a major transition in the retail space, for example. The local authorities and local community enterprise boards could be proactive in trying to make retail and other spaces, including employment and enterprise hubs, available for businesses to move into during this incredibly difficult time for our small business community.
This opportunity could also be used to not only support existing small businesses, but also to allow them and new businesses to bid-in locally to create new distribution systems. In the area of food, for example, we know we need to create new distribution systems directly connecting Irish food producers with consumers. We could use this as an opportunity to set this up on an experimental basis in different parts of the country to allow new enterprise models to be tried and tested. I refer to putting large resources into doing that, with funding coming from the centre, possibly using some potential European funding, but then allowing existing and new creative business and local enterprises to bid-in and get access to office and retail space in that system.
I know that is slightly abstract, but it will be key to how we get small businesses working in new and different ways as we come out of this crisis. That is the second broad proposal on which I am seeking the Government's support.