Written answers

Thursday, 8 February 2024

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Small and Medium Enterprises

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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199. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the degree to which his Department continues to support small and medium sized enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5977/24]

Photo of Neale RichmondNeale Richmond (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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The Government is fully committed to backing business and will continue to work closely with SMEs nationwide by supporting their growth, helping them to find new markets and stimulating job creation.

I know that at present, SMEs are facing several challenges, due in particular to rising energy costs, inflation, and a tight labour market as well as measures which are aimed at improving working conditions.

While I am acutely aware of the pressures affecting SMEs in Ireland, it is worth mentioning that the most recent and forthcoming changes to improve working conditions are a necessary step in ensuring that workers in Ireland can avail of the same conditions as in many of our main trading partners.

Furthermore, it is important to recognise the range of supports that Government has made available to small businesses in recent years to deal with shocks ranging from Brexit to COVID-19, to supply change disruption and to rising energy costs associated with the war in Ukraine.

The recent announcement by the Minister for Finance to make significant changes to the Tax Debt Warehousing scheme with a reduction in the interest rate applying to warehoused tax debt to 0% is a very welcome update.

In terms of ongoing plans, my Department secured over €257m for the Increased Cost of Business Grant which will provide targeted refunds to around 143,000 businesses operating from a rateable premises, or 95% of all commercially trading business premises nationwide. The ICOB grant will be targeted at small and medium businesses operating directly within a premises that is commercially rateable by a Local Authority.

My Department and its agencies also support SMEs through a number of initiatives. These include providing access to advice, training, mentoring and direct financial grants as well as working to ensure an adequate supply of credit to SMEs through State-backed loan schemes and equity investment schemes.

Enterprise Ireland supports Irish SMEs in the development of global markets through a comprehensive range of supports. The support offered by Enterprise Ireland varies from direct financial assistance through grants, loans, and equity investments. Enterprise Ireland also provides market research and export development assistance, as well as funding and mentoring for Innovation and Research.

Additionally, the Local Enterprise Offices offer excellent advice and support as the first stop shop for anyone looking for general business advice including on financial management and business planning.

Finally, alongside Ministers Coveney and Calleary, I attend the SME and Entrepreneurship Taskforce. Over the past number of years their work and efforts have strongly contributed to developments such as the launch of a range of new instruments to improve access to finance and digitalisation and reducing regulatory burden on small businesses through the rollout of the SME Test.


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