I thank the Deputy for raising this matter.
My Department is engaged in ongoing research to assess the extent of Brexit preparation among Irish businesses. Over the last two years, my Department has worked to raise awareness of the key Brexit challenges which include supply chain, tariffs, customs, regulatory standards, working capital and movement of labour, goods and services to build business preparedness levels and to put a comprehensive set of supports in place for business.
My Department's ongoing engagement with businesses indicates that the proportion of businesses preparing for Brexit is increasing, particularly among those businesses identified as most exposed to Brexit-related impacts and that awareness of the key Brexit challenges is increasing.
Earlier this year my Department published a Quick Brexit Guide for business to answer many of the questions that Irish businesses may have and to provide information on the practical steps they can take to deal with Brexit.
In addition to these events, Enterprise Ireland has rolled out a series of Brexit advisory clinics to help businesses across the country and has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online Brexit SME Scorecard to help Irish businesses self-assess their exposure to Brexit and a Be Prepared grant to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit.
In addition, Enterprise Ireland and the local enterprise offices, LEOs, have developed an online customs insights course.
InterTradeIreland, ITI, works with SMEs on an all-island basis. As part of this service, ITI has organised a series of awareness-raising events focused on improving knowledge of customs processes and procedures and identifying actions that can be taken in areas such as logistics and supply chain management. InterTradeIreland also offers a Brexit planning voucher worth up to €2,250 and an implementation voucher, which offers 50% financial support of up to £5,000 towards implementing critical changes in relation to Brexit matters.
The Brexit loan scheme makes available relatively short-term working capital to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. Similarly, the future growth loan scheme, which was launched at the end of March, makes available longer-term capital to support investment in a post-Brexit environment.
While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, I am conscious that the delays to Brexit may have led businesses to defer their immediate planning. However, the UK’s exit from the EU will mean changes for Irish businesses. I want businesses to know that my Department and its agencies are here to help.