Thursday, 3 June 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Michael Lowry (Tipperary, Independent)
I thank the Tánaiste. It is important that we get on and expeditiously implement the agreements that are in place.
Vodafone recently conducted a study that focused on 500 SMEs in rural and urban areas. The report underlined that 43% of these businesses state that they could not have remained productive without having invested in technology. It also showed that SMEs see the future success of their businesses dependent to a large extent on the use of technology and upskilling staff in basic or enhanced training. At this time Ireland is ranked fourth lowest in Europe in digitalisation. Only 19% of small businesses are considered to be highly digitalised. The reason for this is lack of high-speed connectivity. The pandemic has shone a glaring light on this anomaly and its urgent need to be resolved.
Will the Tánaiste consider reducing the threshold for access to the online retail scheme to businesses with fewer than ten full-time employees? There are many small businesses in Tipperary and around the country that are deprived of the advantages of this scheme due to the threshold being too high. Many small businesses have three, four or five employees and it would help them enormously if the scheme could be adjusted.