Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (101)

Catherine Murphy


96 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the county enterprise boards that are to be amalgamated as announced last December; the timeframe under which the proposed amalgamations are scheduled to take place; the detailed funding arrangements in place for county enterprise boards in 2012; the total savings expected to be realised from the amalgamation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3943/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

The issue of restructuring the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) is under consideration within my Department and various options have been considered. It is my intention, however, to ensure that any opportunity presented by CEB restructuring will not simply be about reducing or changing the numbers of CEBs in existence but will be used as an opportunity to fundamentally reform, streamline and revitalise the manner in which the State supports the valuable micro-enterprise sector.

In particular, I want to ensure that State support is delivered in a cohesive manner and that there is a targeted local delivery of enterprise support, driven by a national enterprise policy, in a manner which eliminates overlap and duplication and which makes it easier for the end-user to access the necessary supports and services which can help the sustainability and growth of his/her business. Any savings to be made through any restructuring programme will only become known when the final details of the restructuring are agreed.

An Exchequer allocation of funding for the CEBs is made each year under the Estimates process. The Capital allocation for 2012 is €15million as, notwithstanding the pressures on public sector finances, the Department has sought to maintain its provision of Exchequer Capital funding for direct supports to CEB micro-enterprise clients (i.e. grants and their range of "soft supports" such as business advice, training and mentoring). Individual allocations of funding are made to each CEB by their CEB Central Coordination Unit (CCU), located within Enterprise Ireland, based on well-established criteria and are being finalised at this time. In addition, subject to additional funding becoming available during the course of the year, full consideration is given by the Department to make such funds available to the CEBs for their micro-enterprise support activities.