Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of John McGuinnessJohn McGuinness (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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110. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures he is taking to help small businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30040/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I am keenly aware of the difficulties that the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions are placing on businesses right across the country. It is a challenging time for small business owners, employees and their families.

That is why the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities, and the waiver of commercial rates.

I would urge business owners to avail of these supports if they have not already done so. I would also encourage small business owners to contact their Local Enterprise Office, who can direct them to supports that may be available for their business.

I am also aware that Government needs to take a long-term view with regard to the recovery by fostering growth, productivity and sustainability within the Irish SME sector.

The “Programme for Government – Our Shared Future” set out a commitment to draw up an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint for SMEs and entrepreneurs beyond COVID-19.

Accordingly, in September 2020, I established an SME Growth Taskforce comprising over 20 entrepreneurs, business leaders and other stakeholders, contributing expertise from a broad range of economic sectors and business types.

The Taskforce was served by four focused sub-groups with the capacity and expertise to develop specific actions in thematic areas, drawing on the OECD Review of SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland. These sub-groups focused on the areas of Entrepreneurship; Productivity, Digitalisation and Competitiveness; Internationalisation; and Clustering and Networks.

This work culminated in the publication in January of this year of the SME and Entrepreneurship Growth Plan, which sets out a wide range of recommendations with long-term strategic relevance for SMEs and entrepreneurs.

The recommendations in the Report include measures to help SMEs and entrepreneurs to start up, scale up and access foreign markets, as well as recommendations aimed at helping SMEs to become more productive and ready for the transition to a digital, green economy.

These recommendations, while not yet Government policy, are now being considered by a Ministerial-led SME & Entrepreneurship Implementation Group, which was established in February to progress the Report’s recommendations.

The Implementation Group has been meeting with Departments and Agencies with responsibility for delivery of relevant actions, with a view to taking these proposals forward. This is a key element of the plans to support the domestic SME sector that have been set out in the National Economic Recovery Plan.

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