Thursday, 7 March 2019

Questions (40, 49)

John Curran


40. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the uptake of all Brexit supports under the remit of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10955/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan


49. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the take-up of Brexit preparedness courses, materials, grants and information to date in quarter 1 of 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11164/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 49 together.

Brexit represents a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland, which cannot be underestimated. That’s why my Department started developing supports for businesses from the time when Brexit first became a possibility. Government’s priority is to ensure that businesses around the country can manage risks and avail of any opportunities. This has informed the range of advisory and financial supports that are in place.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme launched last year is open to eligible businesses of up to 499 employees which have been demonstrably impacted by Brexit, or which will be in the future. The Brexit Loan Scheme provides working capital funding to businesses to innovate, change or adapt in response to Brexit-related challenges. Loan amounts range from €25,000 up to €1.5 million, for terms of up to three years and at a maximum interest rate of 4%. Loans of up to €500,000 are available unsecured. This may be useful for businesses whose cashflow has already been impacted by Brexit.

Beyond this, my Department and its agencies are fully engaged in preparing Irish businesses for Brexit and have participated in the Government of Ireland’s series of Getting Ireland Brexit Ready events in Cork, Galway, Monaghan, Dublin, Limerick and Donegal. As part of awareness-raising activities, Enterprise Ireland continues to roll out regional Brexit Advisory clinics. To date, these clinics have been held in Letterkenny, Tralee, Portlaoise, Claremorris, Cootehill, Charleville, Dublin, Galway, Dundalk, Waterford and Limerick. Further events are planned in Galway, Cork, Letterkenny and Dublin ahead of the withdrawal date.

EI has also been running a PrepareforBrexit communications campaign, featuring the Brexit SME Scorecard and the website, which offers information on the likely impacts of Brexit on Irish businesses and how these impacts might be mitigated. The Brexit SME Scorecard is an interactive online platform that can be used by all Irish businesses to self-assess their exposure to Brexit.

Funding to the Local Enterprise Offices has been increased by 22% and they, along with InterTradeIreland, are offering a range of Brexit-focused supports to companies, including those engaged in cross-border trade with Northern Ireland. InterTradeIreland continues to offer its Brexit: Start to Plan voucher scheme, which makes available financial support of up to €2,250 towards professional advisory services to address Brexit-related challenges.

The LEOs offer Brexit supports to micro and small businesses through the 31 LEOs nationwide, including tailored mentoring to address Brexit-related business challenges, and targeted training on specific Brexit challenges.

The InterTradeIreland Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading relationships arising as a result of Brexit. As part of the service, ITI has organised a series of awareness events focused on improving knowledge of customs processes and procedures and identifying actions that can be taken in areas such as logistics and supply chain management.

ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. This support helps businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services. ITI vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. Companies are finding the vouchers very useful and there has been strong demand which can be attributed to the media campaign conducted by ITI across a range of platforms. ITI have just launched a further financial support - £5,000 in matched funding which will support companies in implementing a change identified in their Brexit action plan.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, not everyone is engaging. With Brexit around the corner, I want businesses, particularly those around the Border counties to know my Department and agencies are here to help. My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit.