Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Brexit Supports

Photo of Michael MoynihanMichael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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163. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in County Cork that have availed of the Microfinance Ireland Brexit business loan. [43808/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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To enhance the suite of loans products available to Irish businesses who will be impacted by Brexit, Microfinance Ireland (MFI) launched their Brexit Business Loan on the 23rd of November this year. MFI and officials in my Department have developed this loan product to operate under MFI’s remit which means the loans are available to micro businesses, eg, businesses with less than 10 employees and €2 million turnover.

For these businesses the impact of Brexit is more likely to be felt in imports and supply chains rather than exports. They will need to source new supply chains resulting in the need for cash payments for new stock. It is expected that many of these loans will be short term; less than 12 months. Hence the flexibility of the term of the loan from 6 months to 3 years.

The loan range of €5,000 to €25,000 is the requisite size for these smaller companies. It will assist them counter the initial disruption of Brexit and give them breathing space to normalise any import of supply chain changes going into the future.

To date, there have been no draw downs under the MFI Brexit Business Loan in Cork or elsewhere. However, many businesses, especially micro businesses, are still assessing the impact that Brexit will have on them and are awaiting the outcome of the negotiations of the UKs departure from the European Union. When there is certainty on the outcome of the negotiations, MFI expect to see increased demand for these loans.

MFI are ready to deliver these loans. For the size of these loans, they have favourable interest rates of 4.5% APR if submitted through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Network or other referral partners or 5.5% APR if applied directly. This is to encourage these businesses to contact their LEO so as to avail of any other relevant training or potential for grant aid. There are no fees or charges or any hidden costs and there is no penalty for early repayment.

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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165. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department and agencies under his aegis will provide a dedicated service to answer questions from SMEs with Brexit queries in advance of and after 1 January 2021. [43667/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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As a consequence of the UK leaving the EU customs union and the Single Market on 1 January, significant changes will come into effect from that date.

Substantial advice and resources on a range of issues across Government Departments/agencies, including extensive webinar content, is available on the Government Brexit portal at www.Gov.ie/Brexit. This covers issues such as customs procedures, phytosanitary and sanitary checks and, in the case of my own Department and agencies, advice ranging from enterprise supports for businesses for Brexit to regulatory issues such as product certification/product standards and obligations for importers of chemicals.

A number of Government Departments and agencies, such as Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, that will play a key role in operating the new checks and controls on 1 January for goods moving to, from or through the UK (excluding Northern Ireland), already operate customer helplines.

Later this month, a list of relevant Government services and contact details for key services for businesses that will be in place for 1 January will be published in the print media, on social media and made available on www.gov.ie/brexit. My Department already operates a dedicated Enterprise Information Centre and this will be operative on 1 January to direct businesses to relevant Brexit related enterprise supports and to the regulatory services that fall within the remit of my Department and its Agencies.

In respect of the Agencies under my remit, they are putting in place relevant arrangements, including key contact details, to respond to Brexit related queries from 1 January 2021 both by phone and email.


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