Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment
29. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment his views on a report (details supplied); the analysis undertaken by his Department regarding the disproportionate effect on levels of employment as a result of Covid-19 in the north west region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25980/20]
The Government’s July Stimulus introduced a €7 billion package of supports designed to help businesses across all regions to open, to help those already open to remain open, to get staff back to work and, for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, to secure new opportunities. The Stimulus includes extension of the wage subsidy scheme, pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low cost loans, write off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities.
As part of this stimulus, we are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the new €2 billion Credit Guarantee Scheme. The full range of Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant and advisory supports also continue to be available to help with strategies to access finance, to commence or ramp up online trading activity, to reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and generally to improve competitiveness.
The Deputy will be aware that my Department’s Regional Enterprise Plans play a central role in supporting the delivery of balanced regional development and in ensuring that employment growth is spread across all regions. The Plans are also maintained as ‘live’ agendas which aim to be agile and responsive to both new opportunities and new challenges, for example Brexit, Climate Action and COVID-19. My predecessor as Minister, Heather Humphreys TD, met the Chairs of the Regional Committees in June last and invited them to identify and submit proposals to my Department that would help address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in their region.
The Regional Steering Committees for the North West, North East and West Regional Enterprise Plans have met in recent months to consider the range of COVID-19 and wider economic challenges for their regions and issues arising in relation to vulnerable jobs and sectors and are currently developing options for additional measures that may be taken for their respective regions.
These efforts are also being supported by several Government funding streams, such as the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, introduced in 2017 to sustain and add employment- the North West has secured total funding of €5.6 million, the North East €10.2 million and the West €16.7 million. The Border Enterprise Development Fund has also approved funding of €17 million for enterprise ecosystem strengthening projects across the Border region, aimed at mitigating the challenges posed by Brexit.