Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (26, 27, 28)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

21 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the work he has done in order to ensure that grant funding for job creation addresses regional disparities. [4125/12]

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

Job creation is at the top of the Government's agenda. Since we came into office, we have been working hard to create the improved economic conditions which will support the maintenance of existing jobs and the creation of new ones. Our objective is to put the country back on the road to economic recovery and full employment. The achievement of balanced regional growth is a core objective of Government. Promoting entrepreneurship and facilitating the key infrastructural needs of Irish enterprise across all regions is vital to ensuring a vigorous pipeline of new business leaders, new business ideas and entrepreneurial activity.

This objective is consistent with the EU Commission's Regional Aid Guidelines, which govern the areas in which the enterprise and industrial development agencies in Member States may grant regional aid, more commonly known as investment aid. Investment aid is intended to promote the economic development of certain disadvantaged areas within the European Union in order to redress regional disparities. The Guidelines specify rules for the selection of regions that are eligible for regional aid and define the maximum permitted levels of this aid. Under Ireland's current Regional Aid Map, regions covering 50% of the population are entitled to Regional Aid grants. The details of the support in terms of aid intensity for each county are available on my Departments website, and are also listed in the chart at the end of this answer.

Funding was secured by Ireland from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for a package of measures to re-train, up-skill and offer further entrepreneurial and educational opportunities to workers affected by the closures of Dell, Waterford Crystal and SR Technics. While the bulk of the EGF funding was delivered in the retraining and up-skilling area (generally via FAS) the enterprise support strands of the Dell, Waterford Crystal and SR Technics EGFs were, in the main, delivered through the County and City Enterprise Boards in the regions affected by the closures of those companies. Almost 500 people availed of such supports.

On a national basis, both the Jobs Initiative, announced last May, and Budget 2012 in December, set out measures that aim to return this country to growth, pay down our debt and focus our efforts on policies that facilitate job retention and expansion, as well as addressing unemployment. The enterprise development agencies which come under the aegis of my Department are also active across the regions. Currently, approximately 62% of Enterprise Ireland client companies are located outside Dublin. These companies employ around 137,000 people of which 67% are located in the regions. Of the 79 investments announced by the IDA in 2011, 37 were located outside of Dublin and Cork. These announcements alone have the potential to create more than 3,000 jobs.

The County and City Enterprise Boards have continued to support enterprise development across all the regions. The latest figures available indicate that almost 33,000 people are employed in companies supported by the County and City Enterprise Boards throughout the country. Currently work on the Government's Action Plan for Jobs is nearing completion. This Plan, that I am taking the lead on, will set out a series of clear, actionable measures to support the creation and retention of jobs.

Regional Aid Map 2007-2013 — IRELAND (as reviewed by Commission Decision N130/2010 — Official Journal c 226/5 21.8.2010)

Border, Midlands and West Region

Large Firms

Medium Firms

Small Firms

Period

2007-2010

2011-2013

2007-2010

2011-’13

2007- ’10

2011-’13

Aid Rate (Gross Grant Equivalent)

30%

15%

40%

25%

50%

35%

Souther and Eastern Region

Designated Areas

Large Firms

Medium firms

Small Firms

South East sub-region (Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, South Tipperary) and designated islands1

2007-2013

2007-2013

2007-2013

10%

20%

30%

2007-2008 2009-2013

2007-2013

2007-2013

Mid West (Clare, LImerick, North Tipperary2)

10%

20%

30%

Kerry, Cork Urban Regeneration Area

10% 10%

20%3

30%3

2007-2008 2009-2013

2007-2008 2009-2013

Cork (apart from Urban Regeneration Area)

10% 0%

20% 0%

30% 0%

Lower aid rates apply to Large Investment Projects i.e. >€50 million.

1Bear, Cleire, Dursey, Heir, Long, Sherkin, Whiddy

2As a result of Commission Decision N 130/2010, large investment aid and aid for investment projects with eligible expenditure exceeding EUR 25 million is once again permitted for these three counties. Prior to the decision, such aid had only been allowed up until the end of 2008.

3From 2009-2013 no aid may be awarded in these counties for investment projects with eligible expenditure exceeding EUR 25 million.

Niall Collins

Question:

22 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his estimate of the number of jobs created by the jobs initiative in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4147/12]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

107 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total number of positions created in the course of the various jobs initiatives in the past 12 months to date in 2012; the degree to which further positive measures can be identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4412/12]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 107 together.

Job creation is at the top of the Government's agenda. Since we came into office, we have been working hard to create the improved economic conditions which will support the maintenance of existing jobs and the creation of new ones. The Government's Jobs Initiative, which was announced last May, was aimed at building confidence to encourage consumers to spend, providing opportunities for re-skilling for those who have lost their jobs and helping to get people back to work. It is a cross-Government initiative and the impacts are being seen across a range of sectors.

It is not possible to indicate the exact number of positions which have been filled as a result of the measures which were taken in the Jobs Initiative, as there are indirect as well as direct impacts arising from the Initiative. However, I do have some data in relation to some of the measures we have taken. The Jobs Initiative introduced a 9% VAT rate from 1st July on a range of services, including hotels and restaurants. The Government also halved employer's PRSI for those on modest wages. These measures are of considerable benefit to tourism and hospitality businesses, lowering their cost base, and allowing them to offer a more competitive product to overseas tourists and domestic consumers.

These measures were credited by the Restaurant Association of Ireland for the creation of 490 new jobs in that sector within the first two months of the implementation of the Jobs Initiative. These measures have also helped in making Irish hotels rooms the cheapest in Europe at present, which has been a factor in boosting Irish tourism numbers. The Jobs Initiative targeted Capital spending at labour-intensive local projects, focussing on school works, local roads, energy efficiency and smarter travel projects. Work undertaken between May and October on sustainable travel projects has created over 14,000 days of employment for local contractors around the country.

The level of take-up and activity under the domestic retrofitting schemes to date is demonstrably supporting employment, given the labour intensive nature of energy efficiency upgrades. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) advised that over 5,800 full time jobs were supported in 2011. This represents an increase of some 2,000 jobs last year over the 3,800 jobs already being supported under the Schemes.

Overseas tourist numbers for the first eleven months of 2011 are up 6.8% on the same period in 2010. The number of visitors from mainland Europe were up 8.5% and visitors from North America were up 5.6%, while trips abroad by Irish residents were down by 4%, which suggests higher domestic tourism. The latest trade figures show that, in the first nine months of 2011 compared with the same period of 2010, Irish exports increased by 4% to €69,425m. The increased activity in both of these sectors is expected to lead to additional jobs.

Building on the Jobs Initiative, I am currently preparing an Action Plan for Jobs for Government. This will be launched in the coming weeks and will set out a series of clear, actionable measures to support the creation and retention of jobs.