Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (215)

Micheál Martin

Question:

215. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his policy on small business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8922/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Since coming into office this Government has had a clear focus on assisting SMEs to establish, expand and export, with a view to driving economic recovery and creating jobs across the country. SMEs make up over 99% of businesses in the enterprise economy in Ireland and account for almost 70% of people employed.

One of the measures introduced by Government is the “Action Plan for Jobs” which contains a suite of actions specifically aimed at supporting small businesses. The Deputy will be aware that significant progress has been made in a number of areas, including:

- Improving Access to Finance through the Credit Guarantee Scheme and the Microenterprise Loan Fund Scheme;

- Reform of the County Enterprise Boards through the establishment of new Local Enterprise Offices;

- Improving access to examinership for small companies through the Companies Bill;

- Tackling the issue of late payments through the transposition of the EU Late Payment Directive into Irish legislation; and

- Development of a Single Licensing Application Portal.

Also contained within the Action Plan for Jobs is a Government commitment to publish a National Entrepreneurship Policy Statement. This Policy Statement, which is due to be published in Q1 of 2014, will complement the existing business support initiatives to ensure that the operating environment is more coherent, responsive and conducive to entrepreneurship.

A key Government priority in 2014 is to raise awareness amongst SMEs and entrepreneurs of the full suite of developmental business supports available through a comprehensive communications strategy involving the widest possible range of stakeholders. The new Local Enterprise Offices, as an interface with business at local level, will have a central role to play in this regard, especially in relation to SMEs.

The Action Plan 2014 continues on from the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 commitment by Government to support SMEs. Almost all actions contained in this year’s Plan will impact on the SME sector generally or specific groups of SMEs. Actions around the skills agenda, support for research and innovation, support for management development and other capacity building measures are set out in the Plan. Sector-specific actions in areas such as food and drink, retail, construction, tourism, creative services, eHeath and the Green Economy aim to provide new opportunities for SMEs to win business both in Ireland and overseas.

In addition to work under the Action Plan for Jobs and measures contained in Budget 2014, the Government has ensured that on-going dialogue with the small business sector is in place so that businesses and Government can work together to identify necessary actions to support SMEs in Ireland. This is being facilitated through the Advisory Group on Small Business and the High Level Group on Better Regulation, both chaired by the Minister for Small Business, Mr. John Perry, T.D.