Thursday, 12 October 2017
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
27. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the preparation State agencies under her Department's remit have made to assist businesses and enterprises to prepare for Brexit; her plans to offer specific supports for those most affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43038/17]
I am very aware of the challenges faced by companies in the wake of the Brexit vote and my Department and Agencies continue to monitor and assess carefully the various Brexit-related issues that may impact on business in Ireland. Our focus remains on taking steps to mitigate the potentially adverse consequences Brexit may have for our economy whilst also ensuring that Ireland is well-placed to capitalise on the opportunities that might emerge.
Since the Brexit vote outcome, my Department has had extensive engagement with business to understand what they need to help them adapt to the challenges posed by Brexit, and to provide support for diversification, development and innovation. Informed by this engagement my Department has been working with the Department of Finance, Enterprise Ireland (EI), Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and Department of Agriculture to develop potential supports to respond to the needs of businesses impacted by Brexit.
In Tuesday’s Budget, a new Brexit Loan Scheme was announced which will provide affordable working capital financing to Irish businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit, or will be in the future. The new Scheme will be delivered by the SBCI through commercial lenders to get much needed working capital into Irish businesses.
The new Brexit Loan Scheme aims to make up to €300 million available SMEs and Small Mid-Caps. The scheme will be open both to State Agency clients and those businesses that do not have any relationship with State Agencies. My Department is also exploring the development of a longer-term Business Development Loan Scheme which would assist firms in long term investing for a post-Brexit environment.
EI’s current “#Prepare for Brexit” campaign includes a Brexit Scorecard available to all companies to self-assess their preparedness for Brexit across all aspects of their business and which generates a report suggesting appropriate responses. They are running a series of Brexit roadshow events featuring expert speakers throughout the country to promote the Brexit Scorecard and encourage companies to prepare for Brexit. A €5,000 ‘BePrepared’ grant is also available to clients to prepare a Brexit action plan.
The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are providing Brexit specific information sessions for both core and non-core clients in all counties, an online Brexit SME Scorecard that LEO clients can complete to self-assess their readiness for Brexit, and a Lean4Micro programme, which was designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean business principles in their organisation to increase performance and competitiveness, particularly in relation to being Brexit-ready. In addition, the LEOs are now offering a new funding programme to assist micro-enterprises affected by Brexit by helping clients find new markets and exports.
InterTrade Ireland (ITI), given its experience in promoting and strengthening North-South trade, is especially well positioned to assist businesses in Ireland address the particular commercial challenges that Brexit may present for cross-border commerce. That is why the Government provided €250,000 in additional funding to ITI this year to allow it to undertake a range of initiatives aimed at better preparing Irish SMEs for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. This included the introduction of a Brexit readiness voucher scheme, strengthening the body's capacity to deliver expert advice and a series of events focused on building awareness amongst SMEs of Brexit-related challenges. The extra financial resources provided brought my Department's total funding of ITI to €7.9 million in 2017.
IDA Ireland, like the other enterprise agencies, has a clear Brexit Plan, and includes one-to-one investor engagements, public relations/media campaign and an international marketing campaign. The Agency has established a Brexit Committee to oversee its response to the opportunities and challenges arising from Brexit. The IDA is working hard to convert the interest shown to date by potential investors into investments on the ground here in Ireland. IDA Ireland is constantly engaged with clients across its entire regional portfolio and Brexit has become a significant feature of IDA Ireland’s strategy spanning all of it its activities, including operations activities, overseas, finance, planning marketing and promotion departments.