Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

Questions (273)

Niall Collins

Question:

273. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department has renegotiated external IT consultancy contracts and costs since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54477/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department awards contracts for IT consultancy following requests for tenders advertised on the public procurement website, www.etenders.gov.ie. These are typically awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous of the tenders received. My Department was established in June 2011. While no contracts for external IT consultants have been re-negotiated since then, all new contracts have been negotiated with a view to achieving best value for money and are kept under ongoing review to ensure this is maintained.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Questions (274)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

274. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons employed in the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector each year since 2003. [53697/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Pharmaceutical Industry is an enormously important and highly valued sector in Ireland, employing 25,000+ people directly in Ireland with an equivalent number employed in service provision to the sector. Employment figures in this sector for the period 2003-2012 are provided in Table A.

Ireland has an enviable history of success in this field, attracting some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, and is home to a thriving domestic sector. 9 out of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies are located here.

IDA Ireland, through its overseas network, is committed to maintaining and growing relationships with key decision makers in the pharmaceutical industry and can offer a wide variety of assistance to companies to support new investment and uplift in technical capability of existing clients.

The indigenous pharma/chemical sector plays a key role in this ecosystem and consists of approximately 100 Enterprise Ireland client companies. This sector has been growing at an average of 14% per annum over the last four years. In 2012, the sector had exports of over €450M, and employment of over 2,500 people.

The State has invested heavily through Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in the development of a World-class Research Infrastructure by funding industry-academic research collaborations, Industry-led research programmes/Technology Centres and the Applied Research Enhancement Programmes through the likes of the National Institute for Bioprocess Research and Training (NIBRT), the Solid State Pharmaceutics cluster and the Pharma Technology Centre. These centres aim to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the Irish biopharma industry by investing in research on next generation manufacturing processes and training & education of people to work in this industry.

A key focus for Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and other relevant stakeholder bodies is to promote and build expertise in ‘biological’ research, development and manufacture such that Ireland continues to develop as a globally recognised ‘biopharmaceutical hub’. The NIBRT facility has been effective in bringing training on large molecule manufacturing processes to the sector in Ireland.

Total Employment in Agency Assisted Companies in

Pharma/Chem Sector, 2003-2012

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Pharma/

Chemicals

26,104

26,862

28,289

27,475

27,219

26,794

25,210

24,955

24,858

25,192

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (275)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

275. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to set up a one stop shop for small business start-ups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53756/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Government Decision of April 2012 to reform the national micro and small business support infrastructure sees the dissolution of the 35 existing County Enterprise Boards and the transfer of their functions, assets and liabilities to Enterprise Ireland. The functions will then be carried out by the Local Authorities on behalf of Enterprise Ireland through the establishment of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in each Local Authority area. There will be 31 such LEOs in total.

When established, the LEOs will become the first-stop-shop through which 1) information on national and local supports for business can be accessed, 2) where new start-up and micro (less than 10 employees) can be grant-aided and where small businesses (more than 10) can receive training and mentoring, and 3) where businesses with clear high growth potential can be fast-tracked to the next level of support from Enterprise Ireland. The LEOs will deliver tailored supports (benchmarked by Enterprise Ireland through its Centre of Excellence) that will enhance the promotion, creation and maintenance of employment and nurture entrepreneurship and innovation.

To date, key elements of the project that have been achieved include staffing structures and locations for the LEOs were identified, a Centre of Excellence was established in Enterprise Ireland and a framework Service Level Agreement between Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities for the LEOs was published. Other administrative measures necessary to effect the reform are also significantly advanced in such areas as financial management, website development, training and performance metrics.

I am confident that this new comprehensive approach will energise the entrepreneurship culture at local level leading to the start-up and expansion of businesses and the creation of employment.

Integrated Licensing Application System

Questions (276)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

276. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of licences currently needed to set up a retail unit; his plans to reduce the number of these licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53757/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The number of licences needed by a retail unit will vary very considerably with the nature of the activities it engages in and the services it provides. The Forfás report on “The Review and Audit of Licences”, which assessed 159 licences across key sectors of the economy, estimated that a medium sized supermarket may require up to 20 licences issued by different licensing authorities.

The Forfás report recommended the introduction of an integrated licensing system. The Government considers this project to be of significant importance and has positioned it as one of the Disruptive Reforms in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013. Such an integrated licensing system, which will streamline the licensing application process, is a reformative step in reducing the administrative burdens for business. A key goal of the proposed system is to support the licence application process through the provision of a single portal or website through which businesses will be able to apply for, and renew, a multiplicity of licences. The new licensing system will be developed for the retail sector in the first instance and rolled out to other sectors of the economy thereafter.

The delivery of an integrated licensing application system for business offers real potential to ease the process of starting up a business in Ireland and should significantly reduce the work involved in annual renewals of licences. It will also contribute to maintaining Ireland’s position at the forefront of delivering advanced eGovernment services and using Information Technology to reduce costs for business and improve the delivery of services to business.

The Integrated Licensing Application System should also provide productivity and efficiency gains in the public sector by streamlining the administration of licensing processes and the potential for more integrated inspection and compliance systems in the future and better application of rick-based enforcement.

It is expected that the delivery of the system will be in Quarter 2 of 2014.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (277)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

277. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the non-funded moneys that are available to help small businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53760/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I understand from the Deputy's question he is referring to the Schemes launched by my Department, to support an additional flow of credit into the economy by filling gaps where specific market failures exist – the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme and the Microenterprise Loan Fund. The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme has been live since 24th October 2012 and is intended to address market failure affecting commercially viable businesses. It provides a 75% State guarantee to banks against losses on qualifying loans to firms with growth and job creation potential. The Scheme is intended to facilitate up to €150 million of additional lending to eligible SMEs per annum, over the three year cycle.

Target groups are commercially viable SMEs, i.e. well performing companies that have a solid business plan and a defined market for their products or services, thereby demonstrating their ability to repay the loan, but that do not secure credit facilities due to the following two market failures:

1) Insufficient collateral for the additional facilities, or,

2) Growth/expansionary SMEs which due to their sectors, markets or business model are perceived as a higher risk under current credit risk evaluation practices.

To be eligible for the guarantee, businesses must have applied for credit, and must have been refused for either of these two reasons. Ulster Bank, AIB and Bank of Ireland are participating in the Scheme.

The second initiative is the Microenterprise Loan Fund which was established by Government to improve access to credit for entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises and to facilitate the growth and expansion of viable businesses from all industry sectors which have been refused access to credit by banks.

Microfinance Ireland opened for business on 1st October 2012 and provides support in the form of loans for up to €25,000 to start-up, newly established, or growing microenterprises employing less than 10 people, with viable business propositions, that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by banks. The potential viability of the business proposal will be the dominant factor in all credit decisions. To be eligible for a loan, persons must possess a business plan, must have a commercially viable proposal, must confirm that they have been refused credit from a bank, and must have the capacity to repay the loan. It is intended that the Fund will generate over €90m in loan expenditure over a 10 year period.

My Department publishes quarterly progress reports on the Microenterprise Loan Fund and the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme on my Department’s website www.enterprise.gov.ie. The progress reports detailing the analysis and performance of both Schemes for the quarterly period ending 30 September 2013 are available on my Department’s website. For more information on the Microenterprise Loan Fund please also see www.microfinanceireland.ie.

Decentralisation Programme Expenditure

Questions (278)

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

278. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will outline what offices relevant to his Department are located or have been decentralised outside of Dublin; if he will provide the total number of staff in his Department and the number of staff based outside County Dublin as of 2013; the annual cost incurred in 2012 and 2013 respectively for decentralised staff travelling to meetings in Dublin; the number of times staff travelled to individual meetings in Dublin in each of those years; the costs those staff will be reimbursed for; and if his Department has procedures or mechanisms in place such as video conferencing to reduce the cost of travelling for each unit based outside Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53997/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The location of my Department’s offices is as set out in tabular form, together with the number of staff (in full-time equivalent terms) in each location. The Patents Office was established in Kilkenny under a decentralisation programme in the late 1990s; the Carlow office was established under the Government’s decentralisation programme in 2004.

Location

Number of Staff

(Full time equivalent)

Dublin

628.42

Carlow (Companies Registration Office and the National Employment Rights Authority(NERA))

96.93

Kilkenny (Patents Office)

51.13

Shannon (NERA)

11.00

Cork (NERA)

7.00

Sligo (NERA)

9.00

Total

803.47

The detailed level of information sought by the Deputy in relation to travel costs associated solely with travel between our Dublin and non-Dublin locations is not immediately available as travel costs associated with each Office is not recorded in a manner that immediately distinguishes between different categories of business travel. It would require a very significant redirection of Departmental resources to seek to provide dis-aggregated travel data specific only to journeys to and from Dublin for meetings. It should be noted that inspectors for NERA are regionally based and hearings for the Employment Appeals Tribunal are similarly organised. To identify travel or expenses solely incurred on the basis sought would be extremely difficult. I can, however, advise the Deputy that travel and subsistence payments are made in line with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform instructions and travel is only authorised having due regard to value for money. Travel costs between Dublin and the provincial locations are generally paid at the applicable return train fare rates save in exceptional circumstances where an officer is required to transport a significant level of files or equipment to/from Dublin and mileage would accrue in respect of the use by the officer of his/her car.

Finally, Video Conferencing facilities are available in all decentralised offices and in Dublin, and these facilities are regularly used to facilitate staff attending meetings without the need to travel. Likewise, where appropriate, Video Conferencing is also regularly used to conduct business between the Department and our colleagues in the Permanent Representation in Brussels.

Company Closures

Questions (279, 280, 281)

Dara Calleary

Question:

279. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of meetings he, officials of his Department or any of the agencies supported by his Department have had with the national or international management of a company (details supplied); at what stage he, any of his officials or any of the officials of the agencies were informed of the recent announced redundancies; if, in view of the fact that redundancies were announced in 2012, he believes more could have been done in the intervening period to avoid the latest round of redundancies; if he expects any further redundancies to be announced by this company in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54198/13]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

280. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of meetings he, officials of his Department or officials of any of the agencies supported by his Department have had with the national or international management of a company (details supplied); at what stage he, any of his officials or any of the officials of the agencies were informed of the recent announced redundancies; if, in view of the fact that redundancies were announced in 2012, he believes more could have been done in the intervening period to avoid the latest round of redundancies; if he expects any further redundancies to be announced by this company in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54199/13]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

281. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of meetings he, officials of his Department or officials of any of the agencies supported by his Department have had with the national or international management of a company (details supplied); at what stage he, any of his officials or any of the officials of the agencies were informed of the recent announced redundancies; if, in view of the fact that redundancies were announced in 2012, he believes more could have been done in the intervening period to avoid the latest round of redundancies; if he expects any further redundancies to be announced by this company in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54200/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 279 to 281, inclusive, together.

The principal focus of engagement between the State and the overseas companies located here in Ireland is through IDA Ireland. That Agency keeps in regular contact with its client companies, to ensure that any concerns or issues can be addressed promptly, to seek to enhance opportunities for the companies, to embed and expand their operations here and to explore linkages and other wider economic benefits that can be developed. This process was, and remains, very active in the case of the three companies referred to in these questions.

In addition, I myself avail of opportunities to meet senior representatives of the multinational companies operating here, both at local management level and also with more senior foreign-based executives, whenever possible. In the case of one of the companies mentioned, I met with senior officials from the US parent company only last month. Nothing more could have been done to avoid these recent redundancies.

A feature of the Pharmaceutical sector at present is that it is going through a process of change, largely driven by recent mergers, which have resulted in excess capacity and a requirement to review operations and reduce costs. In the case of one of the companies referred to, the new amalgamated company has 90 plants worldwide and needs to reduce that by 42, and the recent announcement included one of its several Irish operations. Other challenges facing the sector include patent expiry and changing trends, costs and dynamics. These factors are totally outside our control. As the Deputy will appreciate, the ultimate decision in all these cases is made by the parent company, on strictly commercial grounds, and on what is seen by the companies as being in the best interests of the group as a whole.

In the case of the three sets of job losses referred to, the announcements were made a corporate level without advance notice to my Department.

Despite these setbacks, the future for the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices sectors in Ireland is very promising. Additional jobs have been created in growth areas and most companies in the sector have been investing heavily in their Irish operations over recent years. Prospects for finding a new buyer for the one plant recently scheduled for total closure are quite high and the IDA are working closely with the company and with potential buyers to advance that process. It is heartening that in the case of three recent Pharmaceutical plant closures in Ireland, new buyers have been found through the efforts of the IDA and those plants are now back in production with healthy employment levels.

We will continue to engage closely with these companies but it is an unfortunate fact that significant change is a feature of the industry. While it is never possible to make absolute predictions about future redundancies, and there will inevitably be occasional rationalizations and changes, the outlook for these sectors overall, is promising.

Employment Rights

Questions (282)

Dara Calleary

Question:

282. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the legislative programme and associated timeline that underpins the recent announcement regarding compulsory collective bargaining; the stakeholders he has met on this issue in the past 18 months including members of Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann; if there will be a consultation period on his proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54208/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to reform the current law on employees' right to engage in collective bargaining (the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001), so as to ensure compliance by the State with recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

With this in mind, in late 2012 I wrote to stakeholders inviting their observations on the matter. Submissions were subsequently received and a series of meetings took place with representatives from IBEC, ICTU, the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and Chambers Ireland during 2013. Discussions with stakeholders are still ongoing.

I hope to be in a position to bring the matter to Cabinet soon.

I am certain that the existing legislative provisions in this area can be improved and secured while respecting Ireland’s voluntarist system of industrial relations. I expect that any proposals arising from ongoing discussion with stakeholders will reconcile Ireland’s constitutional, social and economic traditions, and international obligations, whilst at the same time ensuring continued success in building Ireland’s domestic jobs-base and in attracting overseas investment into the economy.

Under revised legislation procedures, any proposed legislative changes must be brought to an Oireachtas Select Committee for consideration at Heads of Bill stage.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (283)

Tom Fleming

Question:

283. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of small businesses that have availed of the microfinance scheme for small businesses since it was initiated in September 2012; the total amounts of loans approved; the total number of firms approved; the envisaged number of jobs created in total by these firms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54350/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

As of 6th December 2013 Microfinance Ireland (MFI) has approved 137 applications to the value of €2.12m. My Department publishes quarterly progress reports on the Microenterprise Loan Fund on my Department’s website www.enterprise.gov.ie. The progress report detailing the analysis and performance for the quarterly period ending 30th September 2013 is available on my Department’s website.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

Questions (284)

Niall Collins

Question:

284. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total amount spent on external IT consultants by his Department in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; the estimated spending in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54443/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Records indicate that the amount spent by my Department on externally delivered software supports, systems development, website supports, helpdesk supports and other IT consultancy in each of the years is as follows:

Year

Amount

2010

€3,658,005

2011

€2,933,832

2012

€2,997,635

2013 (to 12 December)

€2,624,447

It is expected that the 2014 amount will be similar to that in 2013, although there may be some increase as systems are developed to facilitate changed business processes as a result of institutional change and mergers, including in respect of the integration of Forfas into the Department.

The reduction in spend over the period has come about through support cost management processes including retendering, through retiring some older technologies and because my Department has been able to in-source certain support works where particular skills became available in house.

Departmental Legal Costs

Questions (285)

Billy Timmins

Question:

285. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the cost of legal action against his Department for the the years 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54459/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I am interpreting the "cost of legal action against the Department" to mean legal costs incurred by my Department in cases where legal action has been taken against my Department.

Year

Total Cost

2011

387,459.03

2012

684,460.96

2013

80,499.08

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

Questions (286)

Niall Collins

Question:

286. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his Department has renegotiated external IT consultancy contracts and costs since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54475/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

My Department does not generally renegotiate external IT support and consultancy contracts, although the option to do so has been used in some cases and has resulted in some efficiencies. Contracts are normally placed for a fixed period or for a defined piece of work. If further support or development is required when a contract expires, this would normally be the subject of a new tender process. For some IT support costs, such as proprietary software licenses, where open tendering is not always possible, my Department is engaged in an on-going process to ensure that such costs are kept to a minimum. In general, my Department has engaged in an ongoing process of ICT support cost management, through the use of tendering, retiring older technologies, and insourcing supports where specialist skills become available in-house. In the period between 2010 and 2012, this pro-active approach to IT support cost management has given rise to savings which in 2012 amounted to €660,000 on the 2010 figure. It is expected that the 2013 full year savings will be greater.

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

Questions (287)

Simon Harris

Question:

287. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide detail, in tabular form, any exemptions granted by his Department or any agency under his remit to the long-standing general principle of pay policy that the payment of additional remuneration to public servants for undertaking additional duties is not permitted; the additional remuneration involved in each case; the date of sanction for such additional remuneration; the rationale behind such sanction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55037/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Whilst remuneration of staff of my Department and under my remit is conducted in line with Government policy and the appropriate instructions from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, in view of the significant period of time for which the Deputy has sought information, I must advise that it is not possible to provide a detailed response within the deadline and a follow-up response will therefore issue to the Deputy as soon as the information is available.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Payments

Questions (288)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

288. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection if persons can access funds from their local community welfare officer if they cannot afford the accumulation of charges with multiple prescriptions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54381/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. It is expected that the estimated expenditure for ENPs in 2013 will be over €35 million.

There is no automatic entitlement to an ENP payment. ENPs are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.

The ENP scheme is not intended to cover circumstances where responsibility for the payment or the expenditure rests with another Government Department or Agency such as assistance towards prescription charges. Responsibility for prescription charges is a matter for the Health Service Executive.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (289)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

289. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection when a determination will be made on an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork for invalidity pension following a recent oral hearing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53684/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me the Invalidity Pension appeal of the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to convene an oral hearing in January 2014. The appellant will be informed when arrangements for the oral hearing have been made.

The Deputy makes reference in his question to an oral hearing having been attended recently by the person concerned. I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the person concerned attended an In Person Medical Assessment on the 28th November 2013 in connection with her current Illness Benefit claim. This Medical Assessment has no bearing on her current Invalidity Pension appeal.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (290)

Pat Breen

Question:

290. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a carer's allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53705/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, an appeal for the person concerned was registered on 20 August 2013 and in accordance with the statutory requirements, the Appeals Office contacted the person concerned and asked them to set out the complete grounds of their appeal. For this purpose, a form SWAO1 was issued to person concerned on 20 August 2013.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the grounds of appeal were received from the person concerned on 23 September 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.