Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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4. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason there is a backlog in the payment of the trading online voucher grants especially from the Dublin City Enterprise Board; if he will intervene to speed up this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23413/21]

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)
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LEO Dublin City like many of the Local Enterprise Offices experienced an unprecedented increase in activity and engagement with clients and stakeholders across 2020 and this has continued into the current year. Last year, for example, the Local Enterprise Offices network approved 12,946 Trading Online Vouchers to assist businesses get online to trade or improve their existing online offering. This represented a 950% increase on 2019 activity and proved to be a vital resource for many businesses helping to reach their customers. The Dublin City Local Enterprise Office received almost 1,100 applications for the TOV scheme in 2020, a 9-fold increase on the number of vouchers approved the previous year.

In addition to the demands associated with the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, the Local Enterprise Offices received almost 15,000 application for the Business Continuity Voucher and provided significant training and mentoring to small businesses in 2020 to help them navigate the particularly difficult trading environment created by COVID-19 and Brexit. The Local Enterprise Offices trained over 77,000 entrepreneurs and business representatives, more than double the 37,000 from the year previous. Furthermore, the LEOs completed 16,231 business mentoring assignments up from 10,756 in 2019. This significant increase in activity has inevitably led to an increased administrative burden on Local Enterprise Office staff across the entire network over the past year and this demand for services has continued into 2021.

In 2020, My Department secured an additional €1.3m to support the Local Enterprise Office staff across the network to deliver their additional workload through and beyond the COVID-19 Crisis. This additional funding provided for an increase in headcount across the network of 63 additional temporary staff for the period 1st September to 31st December 2020. I am pleased to advise that a further €1.3m was secured for 2021 to retain those staff for a further 6 months. An extension of this arrangement is now being considered subject to ongoing budgetary pressures.

This additional funding has provided 4 additional staff members for LEO Dublin City, of whom three are specifically assigned to the administration of the Trading Online Voucher scheme. I understand that Dublin City is still experiencing a backlog in processing Trading Online Voucher applications, but I am assured that this matter is being addressed appropriately and that Dublin City Local Enterprise Office is taking all appropriate steps to reduce the timelines to a more acceptable level.


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