I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. My Department and its agencies are working as part of a coherent cross-government approach to help businesses and the country to prepare for a worst case Brexit scenario, while continuing to work with our EU partners to secure the best possible Brexit outcome. As the Deputy is aware, the Government has placed preparing for Brexit at the top of its budget 2019 priorities. I have also prioritised Brexit preparedness as one of my three main priorities, alongside regional growth and innovation. I am confident that the business community will be best placed to meet the challenges ahead.
Budget 2019 provided over €110 million for additional Brexit preparedness resources and initiatives across Departments and agencies. My Department and its agencies are participating in the new cross-government awareness campaign, Getting Ireland Brexit Ready, with events in Cork, Galway, Monaghan and Dublin in October, as well as in Limerick and Donegal last month.
Over 3,000 businesses have used Enterprise Ireland's Brexit scorecard to date and 85% of its client firms are taking Brexit-related actions such as diversifying their export markets, improving operational competitiveness and investing in research and development.
I have provided funding for 98 additional staff for the agencies and regulatory bodies within the remit of my Department to date to prepare Irish businesses for Brexit. In addition, I am providing an additional €8 million in 2019 for my Department, as well as its agencies and regulatory bodies, to continue the work on our Brexit response and in increasing our global footprint.
The additional work of my Department's agencies such as the Health and Safety Authority and the National Standards Authority of Ireland is particularly important in helping businesses to prepare for a worst case scenario. I am providing an additional €1 million for InterTradeIreland in 2019 to expand its essential work in providing support and advice for businesses to sustain cross-Border trade and on the specific issues related to potential tariffs under a reversion to a World Trade Organization regime.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Enterprise Ireland and Revenue are working closely in the design and development of an online platform on future customs requirements for when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union and becomes a third country. It will be rolled-out from early 2019 to all importers and exporters through the local enterprise offices.
I am acutely aware that in the event of a worst case scenario access to finance and liquidity may become issues of concern for exporting businesses, in particular. I am working with my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in the roll-out of a new €300 million Brexit long-term loan scheme, to come into effect from early 2019, to provide loans of up to ten years.
The Brexit working capital loan scheme which I launched earlier this year provides affordable working capital for eligible businesses with up to 499 employees that are, or will be, impacted on by Brexit and meet the scheme criteria. As of 23 November 2018, there had been 307 applications for eligibility, of which 270 were approved, ranging from the agrifood to the retail and distribution, manufacturing, hospitality and transport sectors. A total of 54 loans have progressed to sanction at the finance provider level, corresponding to a total value of €12.51 million.
I recognise the importance of the haulage, transport and logistics sectors to the functioning of the economy and success in international markets. As the Deputy is aware, transport issues are within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. I assure the Deputy that the Minister and his Department are engaging actively with stakeholders in the sector on Brexit preparedness.