Microenterprise Loan Fund Applications

Questions (113)

Jonathan O'Brien


113. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in view of the low levels of take up of the microenterprise loan scheme, if he will consider bringing forward the fundamental review of the programme. [42623/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Deputy will be aware that Microfinance Ireland (MFI) began operations in October 2012 and from the outset, I have emphasised that the potential utilisation figures used were estimated and that the exact requirements of the Scheme are demand led.

My Department and the Microenterprise Loan Fund operator, MFI have committed significant time and resources to the establishment and operation of this Fund. While my officials engage with MFI on an on-going basis in how the Fund is being delivered, I intend to ensure that it is reviewed at an early date to determine what actions might be taken to ensure the use of the Fund is maximised.

Overall demand for credit for microenterprises remains low at just 36%, according to the most recent SME Credit Demand Survey prepared for the Department of Finance (Red C October 2012 to March 2013), although this is up from 30% for the same period 12 months previously (Mazars October 2011 to March 2012).

Quarterly progress reports on the Microenterprise Loan Fund are published on my Department’s website www.enterprise.gov.ie. The progress report detailing the analysis and performance for the quarterly period ending 30 June 2013 is available on my Department’s website. I intend to publish the next progress report to end 30 September 2013 by mid-October. The Report is currently being finalised.

Microenterprise Loan Fund Expenditure

Questions (114)

Jonathan O'Brien


114. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the set up costs and ongoing administrative costs per year associated with the microenterprise loan scheme. [42624/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Details of the set-up costs of Microfinance Ireland (MFI) were set out in MFI’s accounts for the period ended 31 December 2012. The annual report and accounts for 2012 were laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in July 2013.

The accounts reported that during the period to 31 December 2012, the company incurred costs of €278,000, which were of an exceptional nature, but which were in furtherance of the ordinary activities of the company. These exceptional costs were incurred by Social Finance Foundation (SFF, the parent company of MFI) on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and included the following: legal Costs of €113,000 prior to incorporation and also relating to the setup of MFI; projects Costs of €165,000 prior to incorporation and also relating to the setup of MFI. These costs, totalling €278,000, have now been reimbursed by Microfinance Ireland to SFF.

Separately, I have been advised by MFI that the annual administration costs for MFI for the year to December 2013 are forecast to total approximately €900,000. Salaries are the largest component of MFI’s annual budget and are anticipated to total less than €500,000.

Other components of the MFI budget include: approximately €200,000 for marketing costs, which are seen as essential in building awareness of the scheme among micro-enterprises and generating a pipeline of loan applications; and approximately €240,000 for overheads, such as premises, IT and employer’s PRSI.

Microenterprise Loan Fund Expenditure

Questions (115)

Michael Healy-Rae


115. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding establishing a venture capital fund for island enterprises and microenterprises (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42778/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Venture capital provides investment capital, as opposed to credit, to start-up firms and small businesses with perceived long-term growth potential. It is a very important source of funding for start-ups that do not have access to capital markets. It typically entails high risk for the investor, but it has the potential for above-average returns. Venture capital can also include managerial and technical expertise. It facilitates company growth and job creation and continues to support the creation of innovative and internationally oriented start-ups that can go fast to market and scale. These high-growth innovative Irish companies are in fast growing sectors, including ICT, life sciences, high tech manufacturing and the green economy.

Last May I announced a new call for expressions of interest under the €175 million Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2013-2018, which will see the continuation of the Government’s support for innovative Irish SMEs. The Scheme is targeting an additional €525 million in funding from the private sector, which will mean a total fund of €700 million available for investment over the lifetime of the Scheme.

The Venture Capital Funds committed to under this Scheme, as well as the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2007-2012, can invest in any opportunities on the Islands that fit their respective fund strategies.

Recognising that many of the Island based enterprises are microenterprises, the deputy will be aware that I established a Microenterprise Loan Fund in 2012, through Microfinance Ireland to provide microenterprises with access to loans of up to €25,000. Island microenterprises can contact their local County Enterprise Board and Microfinance Ireland concerning the operation of this Fund.

Trade Agreements

Questions (116)

Micheál Martin


116. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding the EU-USA free trade talks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34270/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Negotiations between the EU and the US on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership began formally in July, with the first round of negotiations held in Washington. The negotiations are at a very early stage, with the second round of talks, which were due to be held in Brussels this week, from 7 – 11 October, having been deferred at the request of the U.S. This is due to staffing and financial constraints caused by the partial government shutdown in the U.S. No alternative date has been proposed at this stage for the talks to recommence.

Science Foundation Ireland Staff

Questions (117)

Micheál Martin


117. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he or his officials have met with staff from Science Foundation Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40519/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Both I and the Minister for Research and Innovation have regular meetings with the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and with other SFI staff members. In addition, a Departmental official is a SFI Board Member and attends regular Board meetings.

My officials are also in daily contact with SFI staff members, and participate in regular liaison meetings with SFI management. This regular engagement helps ensure that SFI fulfils its mission to promote, develop and assist the carrying out of oriented basic research and applied research in strategic areas of opportunity for the State.

IDA Staff

Questions (118)

Micheál Martin


118. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he or his Department officials have met the Industrial Development Agency recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40522/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Since my appointment as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, officials from my Department have had on-going regular contact with IDA Ireland, both at Board and Executive level. In addition, I have regular informal discussions with IDA Ireland officials at various events including the media events surrounding some investment announcements.

These regular meetings reinforce the Government’s and IDA Ireland’s commitment to delivering on-going foreign direct investment.

In that context I would like to point out that 2012 saw a strong performance in the level of foreign direct investment (FDI) won by Ireland with 12,722 new jobs being created in IDA Ireland client companies and I am pleased to say that this progress has continued in 2013. Despite a poor economic background in Europe and strong opposition from locations such as the Netherland and the U.K., mid-year results show that 70 investment projects, with the potential to create in excess of 7,000 jobs, had been won in the first 6 months of 2013.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (119)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


119. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a list of the social welfare benefits that do not require primary legislation to alter their eligibility rules or payment levels. [42536/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The table below lists the schemes that are set out in primary legislation and those which are non-statutory in nature.

Schemes set out in Primary Legislation*

Non-statutory Schemes

State Pension (Transition)

National Fuel Scheme

State Pension (Contributory)

Free Travel

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

Household Benefits Package

Widows, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory)

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

Widow’s Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension

Community Employment Scheme

Death Benefit

Rural Social Scheme -RSS

Bereavement Grant

Tús - Community Work Placement Initiative

Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner’s Grant

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance

One Parent Family Payment

Short-Term Enterprise Allowance

Child Benefit

Part Time Job Incentive Scheme

Family Income Supplement

Work Placement Programme

Guardian’s payment Contributory

Jobbridge, The National Internship Scheme

Guardian’s payment (Non- Contributory)

Back to Education Allowance

Maternity Benefit

Training and Development Option

Adoptive Benefit

Part-Time Education Option (PTEO)

Health and Safety Benefit


Jobseekers Benefit


Jobseeker’s Allowance

The Wage Subsidy Scheme

Farm Assist

The Reasonable Accommodation Fund for the Employment of people with disabilities

Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive Scheme

The Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme

Illness Benefit

Job Initiative Scheme

Partial Capacity Benefit


Invalidity Pension

Technical Assistance & Training Fund

Disability Allowance

Technical Employment Support Grant

Blind Pension

Activation and Family Support Programme

Carer’s Benefit

School Meals – local projects scheme

Carer’s Allowance

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Respite Care Grant

Injury Benefit

Disablement Benefit

Medical Care

Treatment Benefit

Increase for Living Alone

Living on a Specified Island

Rent Allowance for tenants affected by the De-Control of Rents

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance and other Supplements under SWA

Rent Supplement

Mortgage Interest Supplement

Exceptional Needs Payments

Urgent Needs Payments

School Meals – urban scheme

Redundancy Payments Scheme

Insolvency Payments Scheme

* Some changes in scheme conditions may require both primary and secondary legislation. Other changes may only require secondary legislation and/or changes to administrative guidelines.