Question No. 1002 answered with Question No. 975.

Retail Sector

Questions (1003)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1003. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the need to carry out an in-depth analysis of changes in the retail sector in order to understand fully the impact online shopping and digital transformation is having on the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32440/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Retailing supports jobs in every city, town and village in the country with 1 in every 7 people working in the retail sector. Therefore, it is critical that our retail sector is both productive and competitive to sustain employment across the country, in the long term. As Chair of the Retail Consultation Forum, I am acutely aware of the transformation which the retail sector is undergoing.

Technological breakthroughs, as one of the global megatrends, have greatly affected retailing. The pace and progress of technological change has never been greater, and it is clear that this transformation – although exciting, is challenging for the sector. The digital economy provides a different retail experience for consumers across Ireland and beyond. Digitalisation has increased the scope for competition in the retail sector, as reflected in the growth in online shopping and changing consumer preferences in terms of how people are shopping in town centres. Sustaining physical retail outlets requires adaptation: many retailers now offer multiple sales channels to sell their goods, from physical stores, to social media, mobile apps and websites.

I want Irish based retailers to compete at the forefront of the digital revolution and have prioritised supporting the retail sector to develop their online capability, in order for them to expand their market reach nationally and internationally and enhance their competitiveness. In support of this, I introduced a new pilot Online Retail Scheme in September 2018, administered by Enterprise Ireland. This €1.25m competitive Scheme is targeted at retailers with an online presence to strategically enhance their online offering. By delivering the Online Retail Scheme, I intend to support Irish retailers to innovate, and through innovation, increase their competitiveness and international reach.

The Scheme will provide grants between €10,000 and €25,000 on a 50% match fund basis with the purpose of enhancing their online offering. The grants may be utilised to fund research, strategy development, implementation and training. The Scheme also provides a peer learning opportunity for the successful applicants; and the outcomes from the pilot Scheme will inform my Department about the challenges that the sector is facing in relation to digitalisation. The second Call under the pilot Scheme opened on 19th June, 2019 and will close on 31st July 2019 at 3pm.

Supporting and creating high-quality, sustainable jobs across the country is something that this Government is firmly focused on through the Future Jobs Ireland framework. Pillar 2, of five in Future Jobs Ireland focuses on ‘Improving SME productivity' and includes a focus on the retail sector under the ambition (2.4) to ‘Encourage enterprises to exploit technology and business process improvements to increase productivity’. This includes a 2019 deliverable set out under Ambition 2.4 to:

(vi) ‘commence a study on the retail sector to understand the full extent and impact of disruption to pre-existing business models in light of digital transformation’.

My Department has just commenced work on this study which will be undertaken in conjunction with the Retail Consultation Forum which I chair. I am expecting that the study will be completed by the end of Q2 2020.

I look forward to the results of the research and continuing to work with the Retail Consultation Forum and its focus on the current and future developmental needs of the retail sector.

Regional Enterprise Development Fund

Questions (1004)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1004. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which the new regional innovation and technology clustering initiative will work; the benefits the programme will bring to the regions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32441/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Under Project Ireland 2040, the Government identified an ambition to build sectoral clusters of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at regional level. This ambition will be delivered through initiatives supporting the development of business-led clustering of competitive advantage. As one of the Government initiatives in this area, I secured an initial €2.75 million in Budget 2019 for a multi-annual fund for Regional Technology Clustering.

I was delighted to recently launch the Regional Enterprise Clustering Fund in Dundalk Institute of Technology. The initiative will support regions, and the enterprise base within it, to build on their competitiveness and productivity. Connectivity with, and engagement between, enterprise and regionally based knowledge providers, such as the Institutes of Technology (IoT) / Technological Universities (TU), drives productivity and competitiveness in and across regions.

The fund is being administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of my Department and is now open for applications until 3pm on the 11th of September 2019. The fund will be in the form of a competitive fund open to the IoTs / TUs. Applications must be aligned to Project Ireland 2040, the Regional Enterprise Plans and Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Enterprise Strategy and other national enterprise policies.

TUs and IoTs can play a key role in supporting regional enterprise development and the competitiveness of their region. Distributed across every region, they can harness their educational and research expertise to support SMEs and indeed the wider enterprise base. This fund will enable the IoTs / TUs to increase their engagement and connectivity with SMEs through the formation of new one to many engagements informed by the strategic enterprise priorities for the region and by working with existing enterprise clustering.

Interdepartmental Committees

Questions (1005)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1005. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the work her Department is undertaking in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality as part of Future Jobs Ireland to develop guidelines to facilitate employers in offering more family-friendly working options; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32443/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Irish economy has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. According to the latest Labour Force Survey, there are 2,301,900 people in employment as of Q1 2019, and all-time high with an unemployment rate of 4.4% as of May 2019.

Under Ambition 4.2 (i), Future Jobs Ireland 2019 assigns the following deliverable to my Department for implementation:

“Undertake research on the prevalence and types of remote working arrangements within the Irish workforce, and the attitudes towards such working arrangements, as well as the factors which inhibit employers and employees to partake in such arrangements”.

To support this new piece of research, my Department hosted a Remote Working Consultation Event in Cavan Digital Hub on 18th July last. The purpose of this forum was to garner insights from a broad range of stakeholders on remote working. It was attended by a diverse range of representatives across the area of remote work advocacy, enterprise, academia and Government. These stakeholders participated in breakout sessions on the topic of remote work, engaging in a solution-focused national conversation centred on remote work in Ireland.

The research called for in Future Jobs Ireland 2019 will form a report which aims to establish a clear definition of what is meant by ‘remote work’, assess its prevalence in Ireland and the categories of remote work available to workers. It will also include as assessment of current attitudes to remote work from the perspectives of employees, employers and policy makers and identification of key influencing factors for those considering remote work solutions.

To guide this work, an Interdepartmental Steering Group has been formed with representatives from my Department, Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Department of Rural and Community Development, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Department of Justice and Equality and Department of An Taoiseach. The research will include desk research, identification of key data sources and one-on-one consultation with key stakeholders in addition to the Remote Working Consultation Event.

In addition to producing a cohesive and meaningful research paper on the prevalence of remote work in Ireland, which fulfils the deliverable as stated in Future Jobs Ireland 2019, this work will inform the development of policy recommendations on intelligent working arrangements, such as remote or flexible working, which will be completed by the end of the year.

Remote work is evidently growing in popularity in Ireland. According to the Census, 56,774 people outside the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector were home workers in 2016, an increase of 20% from the 2011 figure, which was 47,193.

There has been considerable work around Remote Work in Ireland to date, including the following:

- The Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020, published by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, contain actions aimed at promoting the use of flexible working solutions and enterprise hubs.

- The Department of Rural and Community Development and Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment launched the Smart Community initiative in January 2019, which emphasises the importance of flexible working solutions.

- The Western Development Commission has been undertaking research on remote working and e-hubs, some of which will be published in 2019.

- Enterprise Ireland’s corporate strategy, Powering the Regions, contained targets for creating co-working spaces for each region over the years 2016-2018.

The challenge ahead is ensuring businesses in Ireland are embracing the opportunities posed by new technologies and the availability of different remote working models as well as the growing importance of flexibility to the Irish talent pool. To achieve this, it is vital to understand, from the perspectives of enterprise and employees alike, the main factors that come into play when considering remote work policies and how these can influence employees and employers’ engagement with them. The research being conducted by my Department will be vital in this regard.

Job Creation

Questions (1006)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

1006. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the measures she is taking in conjunction with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to tackle high unemployment in Rowlagh and Cappaghmore in Clondalkin, Dublin 22 (details supplied). [32640/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department and its Agencies are committed to sustainable job creation in the Dublin region and throughout the country.

A total of 104,000 more people were in employment in the Dublin region in Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2015 when the Regional Action Plan for Jobs initiative was launched by my Department. Unemployment in the region has reduced from 9.1 percent to 4.4 percent in the same period.

In February this year, I launched a new Dublin Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020, which builds on the very strong progress made on employment creation under the Dublin Regional Action Plan for Jobs. One of the Strategic Objectives set out in the Dublin Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020 is to seek to facilitate every individual to realise their full potential through engagement in economic activity. This Strategic Objective aims to increase the level of participation in the labour force from a variety of different cohorts by seeking to understand the barriers and impediments that they currently or have previously encountered. A working group has been established to drive the delivery of this Strategic Objective.

The Strategic Objectives and actions in the Dublin Plan are designed to complement the work being carried out by my Department’s Agencies to support job creation in the Dublin region, including Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and the IDA.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) continues its strong focus on entrepreneurship and sustainable jobs growth in South Dublin County area, with a total of €19,975,064 paid in funding to EI client companies in the South Dublin County area between 2015-2018.

In February, EI client company Workhuman (formerly Globoforce) announced 150 new jobs and a major upgrade to their newly expanded HQ in Parkwest. EI client companies in the surrounding area also include KN Network Services, Aryzta Bakeries, Actavo, Irish Distillers, John Sisk & Son, Britvic Ireland, Diageo and Shamrock Foods.

In addition, EI has provided funding which has assisted in the development of shared office space in Bawnogue and Neilstown at ACE Enterprise Park. This provides a supportive working space for entrepreneurs and promotes and encourages an enterprise culture in the local Clondalkin community.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) play a critical role throughout the country in supporting microenterprises in start-up and expansion phases. Dublin South LEO has provided total funding of €3,020,135 from 2014 to 2018 in the South Dublin area and created a total of 1,402 jobs over the same period, including 400 jobs in 2018.

IDA Ireland continues to promote all areas of Dublin City and the County to overseas investors. There are currently 763 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies operating in the County, employing over 96,760 people. From 2017 to 2018, FDI-driven employment in Dublin increased by 6.8%, with 6,231 new jobs added. Recent developments include the official opening of a new cutting-edge pharmaceutical manufacturing facility by Takeda Ireland at its site at Grange Castle on 5 July.

Meanwhile, I am informed by my colleague, Regina Doherty TD, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, that the measures her Department is taking to tackle unemployment are outlined in the Pathways to Work 2016 to 2020 strategy. This strategy identifies actions to be taken to improve employment outcomes for unemployed people.

Furthermore, the Intreo Centre in Clondalkin is the local one-stop shop for all income and employment support services provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), and this is where customers from Rowlagh and Cappaghmore can access job-seeking advice, information on vacancies and income support services all in the one place.

The Intreo Centre also provides expert help and advice on employment, training and personal development opportunities, with a focus on customer needs to help them enter the workforce. These individualised supports are provided by Case Officers who are available to work with jobseekers and to assist them in getting back to work and increasing their employability.

Work Permits Applications

Questions (1007)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

1007. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the progress to date in respect of a service employment permit in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32810/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Employment Permits Section of my Department informs me that it has no record of a completed application for an employment permit for the above named person (details supplied).

We can see that a partial and incomplete application was started but it has not been completed by the applicant. Once this application is complete it will join our processing queue. However, if an online application is not completed within 28 days it is automatically deleted due to Data Protection regulations.

Enterprise Support Schemes

Questions (1008)

Robert Troy

Question:

1008. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 419 of 11 July 2019, if potential businesses can apply for direct grant aid under the rescue and restructuring scheme; if so, if the grant aid per undertaking over a three-year period will conform with the financial ceilings set under state aid rules as per regulation Regulation (EU) No. 1407/2013; and the loan and equity financing options under the scheme. [32880/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Rescue and Restructuring Aid (including Temporary Restructuring aid) and De Minimis Aid are governed by very separate rules within the State Aid Framework. The Rescue and Restructuring scheme operates under the EU Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines and De Minims Aid operates under the rules governed by Regulation EU 1407/2013.

Under the Rescue and Restructuring Scheme, businesses may apply for restructuring aid in the form of equity support or, in the case of Temporary Restructuring aid, support in the form of a loan repayable over a period of 18 months. The maximum amount of aid that can be awarded to any one undertaking, either in the form of rescue aid or temporary restructuring aid, is €10m. The scheme respects the “one time, last time” principle meaning that no restructuring or temporary restructuring support may have been received by the applicant in the previous 10 years or for another 10 years following receipt of aid under this scheme.

Separately, the De Minimis Regulation EU 1407/2013 provides for small amounts of aid which cannot exceed a €200,000 threshold over any three fiscal years and may be granted to any enterprise, irrespective of size or location. De Minimis aid can take the form of grants or equity supports or, in accordance with Section 16 of the Regulation, in the form of loans. The entire €200,000 may be awarded in one transaction or over a number of transactions as long as the threshold is observed. The Commission considers that such small amounts of aid falls outside the category of State aid that is banned by the EC Treaty as it does not have the potential to distort competition.

Enterprises in receipt of De Minimis aid up to and including the threshold in the previous three fiscal years are not precluded from applying for Rescue and Restructuring Aid should the need arise.

Economic Data

Questions (1009)

Robert Troy

Question:

1009. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the productivity levels of domestic indigenous firms in each EU member state by percentage in tabular form; the EU average percentage; and the timelines and targets set to increase the productivity levels of domestic Irish indigenous firms. [32881/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department uses OECD data to make productivity comparisons across countries. This database presents productivity figures at the national level and does not present data broken down by firm ownership (i.e. indigenous or foreign owned firms). It is therefore not possible to present productivity data on indigenous/foreign firms in EU Member States as requested as the data are not available.

In an Irish context, in May 2018, the CSO released a statistical publication titled ‘Productivity in Ireland 2016’, the first of an annual series of publications by the CSO aimed to help users understand productivity in the globally integrated Irish economy.

While this publication did not present productivity figures on domestic indigenous firms relative to others, it did present productivity data broken down by sectors. In an attempt to capture something similar to firm ownership, the CSO presented results on the productivity of the ‘foreign’ sector and the ‘domestic and other’ sector.

The CSO classed a sector as ‘foreign’ when, on average, the turnover of foreign-owned multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating in that sector exceeds 85% of the sector total.

The sectors captured in this definition were: chemicals and chemical products; software and communications sectors and reproduction of recorded media; basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations; computer, electronic and optical products; electrical equipment; medical and dental instruments and supplies. Corporate inversions are also considered to be foreign-owned MNEs in this analysis.

All other sectors were categorised as ‘Domestic and Other’ sectors.

The CSO data shows that the cumulative labour productivity growth for Ireland as a whole between 2000 and 2016 was 87.4%. For Ireland’s ‘foreign’ sectors, the cumulative productivity growth was 342.1%. For Ireland’s ‘domestic and other’ sectors, productivity growth was 48.8%.

Through Future Jobs Ireland, the Government is pursuing measures to increase the productivity of indigenous SMEs over time. Progress towards this goal will be made by diversifying our enterprise base, promoting links between high performing firms and SMEs to increase positive interaction and collaborative working, ensuring existing supports for R&D are useful for smaller business, enhancing business framework conditions for firm creation and growth and investment in digital and managerial skills.

Future Jobs Ireland includes a target for annual average increases in multifactor productivity in the domestic sectors of the economy of 1% per year to 2025.

The Government hosted an SME and Entrepreneurship Strategy Conference on 12 July, where we announced the development of a major new policy on SMEs under Future Jobs Ireland. The conference brought together SMEs, policy makers, programme providers and international experts to look at a range of policy interventions in the area, with a particular focus on improving productivity among indigenous SMEs. The conference discussed a draft roadmap for SME and entrepreneurship policy, which was prepared by the OECD for my Department.

I also announced two new funds which will enhance the productivity of firms in every region. The first is the €2.5m Competitive Fund. The Local Enterprise Offices will compete for this on behalf of their clients. Projects should focus on the priority areas identified in Future Jobs Ireland, and the Regional Enterprise Plans. For example, they could look at themes like innovation, Brexit readiness or market diversification. The second is the Productivity Challenge Fund worth €500,000. This is for businesses who are not currently LEO clients. The funding will be used to address productivity gaps, including through the adoption of lean business practices.

Departmental Reports

Questions (1010)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1010. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of feasibility studies conducted by her Department in County Galway in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the names of each project being studied; the amount allocated and drawn down for each study; the person or body that sought each study; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32935/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department has not conducted any feasibility studies in County Galway in the period in question.

EU Directives

Questions (1011)

Micheál Martin

Question:

1011. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will report on the EU directive on standards of sports equipment; the way in which it is implemented and supervised in Irish-owned companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33177/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

There is no one overarching piece of EU legislation dealing with sports equipment but there are several different directives and regulations with which sports equipment may have to comply, depending on use. In this particular case, the relevant EU legislation is Regulation (EU) 2016/425 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on personal protective equipment and repealing Council Directive 89/686/EEC, which was implemented into Irish law by S.I. No. 136/2018.

According to S.I. No. 136/2018, economic operators (manufacturers, authorised representatives, importers or distributors) must not place sports equipment or products on the Irish market unless it complies with the safety requirements of the legislation. Where unsafe or dangerous products have been found to have been placed on the Irish market the relevant Irish market surveillance authorities (the Health and Safety Authority or the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, depending on the product in question) have the power to order economic operators to remove or destroy these products or to bring them into conformity with the legislation.

As investigations and enforcement matters generally are part of the day-to-day operational work of both the Health and Safety Authority and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, I, as the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation have no direct function in the matter.

Should the Deputy have any information in relation to unsafe sports equipment on the Irish market, he should make contact with the Health and Safety Authority or the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission directly to provide any relevant information on these matters.

Consumer Protection

Questions (1012)

Micheál Martin

Question:

1012. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on standards of sports equipment imported from China, particularly helmets used in GAA sports; if she has received correspondence regarding same from Irish companies involved in making sports equipment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33178/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

According to EU product safety legislation the onus is on economic operators (viz: manufacturers, authorised representatives, importers or distributors) to ensure that only safe products, including sports equipment, are placed on the market. Products placed on the market in the EU must comply with product safety requirements irrespective of the country of origin. If economic operators become aware that products on the market present a potential hazard they must take appropriate measures, up to and including recall of the items, to ensure that the risk is removed. Any action taken by an operator must be notified to the relevant Market Surveillance Authority: for GAA helmets in Ireland this is the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

The CCPC has confirmed to me that under S.I. No. 136/2018 (European Union (Personal Protective Equipment) Regulations 2018 – the relevant Irish legislation governing the safety of GAA helmets), it has inspected 290,762 products. Of these, it was found that 29,259 were non-compliant or unsafe. In no particular instance were any GAA helmets found to be non-compliant or unsafe.

The CCPC has also confirmed that it has received two cases since 2016 relating to GAA helmets – one was a request for further information relating to the Irish standard I.S. 355:2006 and the other was relating to a consumer dissatisfied with the colour of a helmet purchased.

Regional Development Initiatives

Questions (1013)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

1013. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 230 of 10 July 2019, when construction will commence on a hub (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33332/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) is an initiative of my Department and is administered on the Department’s behalf by Enterprise Ireland. The competitive Fund is aimed at driving enterprise development and job creation in all regions in the country through supporting collaborative and innovative projects that develop enterprises and create jobs in each of the regions. The Fund complements the Regional Enterprise Plans which I launched earlier this year, that are focused on bringing forward key collaborative actions and projects to drive enterprise development and sustainable jobs in the regions.

Call 1 of the REDF was launched in 2017 and funded 21 projects with a total of just over €30 million. A second call launched in April 2018 and allocated just over €29 million across a further 21 projects. I recently launched a new Call 3, with an additional €45 million which will close for applications on September 25th.

The MERITS hub is one of the projects funded under Call 1 of the REDF. The Mid East Regional Innovation Think Space (MERITS) is a new build project to cluster Irish and international new-technology companies and provide mentorship and support in Naas County Kildare. The project is supported by strong collaboration with Kildare County Council, Maynooth University/ MaynoothWorks, Kildare Chamber and the 3 Mid East LEOs (Kildare, Meath & Wicklow).

I am informed through Enterprise Ireland that the build completion date for the MERITS hub is estimated to be October 2020, with the occupation date estimated to be during the period November to December 2020.

Enterprise Ireland have been informed that as of the 17th of July tenders have been issued for the appointment of contractors for the build and development of the site. The tender will be awarded in early September and building works commence in mid-September.

IDA Ireland Site Visits

Questions (1014)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

1014. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of IDA site visits that have taken place in each county to date over the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33425/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The table below details the number of IDA site visits per county from 2016 until the second quarter of 2019.

Whilst site visits remain an important tool in helping showcase regional locations to investors, it is important to remember - as I have made clear before - that the final decision as to where to invest rests solely with the company concerned. It is also the case that site visit activity does not necessarily reflect investment potential, as a significant proportion of all new foreign direct investment comes from existing IDA clients already present in the country.

Creating more jobs in the regions is a priority for both the IDA and my Department as we seek to build on the progress made over the last number of years. Since the IDA Ireland’s ‘Winning’ Strategy was launched in 2015, 455 investments have been won for the regions with almost 27,000 net new jobs created in locations outside Dublin. We are focused on increasing those numbers further in the time ahead.

Table - IDA Site Visits by County, 2016-2019

County

2016

2017

2018

Q1 2019

Q2 2019

Carlow

9

8

7

3

3

Cavan

2

2

2

1

3

Clare

18

22

13

5

12

Cork

49

51

61

17

23

Donegal

7

2

8

1

1

Dublin

284

327

269

56

90

Galway

42

62

54

9

17

Kerry

3

9

10

0

2

Kildare

8

10

8

3

1

Kilkenny

10

6

5

5

2

Laois

6

4

10

2

1

Leitrim

8

5

6

0

1

Limerick

49

42

35

12

22

Longford

6

7

5

0

1

Louth

24

22

20

10

9

Mayo

5

7

10

2

0

Meath

8

3

6

1

1

Monaghan

2

1

3

1

1

Offaly

4

5

5

1

1

Roscommon

1

3

3

0

1

Sligo

20

18

15

8

9

Tipperary

8

8

5

3

2

Waterford

17

11

21

8

3

Westmeath

36

42

22

6

5

Wexford

7

3

3

1

1

Wicklow

5

2

1

4

1

Total

638

682

607

159

213

Personal Injuries Assessment Board Funding

Questions (1015)

Michael McGrath

Question:

1015. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has requested the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to consent to the withdrawal of funds from PIAB to the Exchequer as specified under section 74A of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003, as inserted by section 13 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019; if consent will be requested in respect of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33471/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Section 74A of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 as inserted by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019, and which came into effect on 3 April 2019, allows the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), with the authorisation of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to retain a specified sum of money for the purposes of expenditure by the Board in the performance of its functions. The sum to be retained is to be determined having regard to the operational, capital and contingency costs of the Board.

My Department and PIAB are in the process of determining the level of reserves to be retained and I will seek the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to any proposed sum. Any amount in excess of that level will be remitted to the Exchequer. As an interim measure, in July 2019, PIAB remitted an amount of €9 million, through my Department, to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Brexit Supports

Questions (1016)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1016. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the resources that will be made available to businesses in counties Cavan and Monaghan in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33616/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

As the precise nature of the UK's departure from the EU still remains to be determined, Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland, one which cannot be underestimated. That is why my Department started developing supports for businesses from the time when Brexit first became a possibility.

My Department and its agencies have put in place extensive supports, schemes and advisory resources to ensure that to ensure that businesses around the country are prepared for Brexit, including those in counties Cavan and Monaghan. While we cannot yet know the form that Brexit will take, these measures aim to assist businesses in identifying and managing key risk areas and developing practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

My Department’s total exchequer allocation increased by 9.1% year on year, up from €871m to €950.2m. This is made up of a record €620m in capital and €330.2m in current funding, which includes an increase of €65m in capital – up 11.7% on last year’s allocation of €555m; and, an increase of €14.2m in current – almost 4.5% more than our 2018 allocation of €316m. I also provided extra staff for the regulatory bodies of my Department to ensure they are properly resourced to address the additional demands that Brexit will create.

I allocated an extra €5m to the 31 Local Enterprise Offices [LEOs], up 22% on 2018. The LEOs are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business, and they have a presence in every county. The LEOs are there to support businesses in preparing for Brexit, to ensure that businesses are informed and have plans in place to manage the new trading relationships on the island and with the UK more generally. The LEOs have organised and contributed to various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit, including events in Cavan and Monaghan. LEO Cavan has just completed a customs training workshop on 16 July, with two further training courses planned for September and November. Further LEO customs, export and import procedures workshops will be held in Castleblayney in July and September.

The Local Enterprise Office interactive one day Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed in a post-Brexit environment. 531 Participants have so far attended this Customs Training.

In addition, 673 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit. Technical Assistance Grants for Micro Export are offered as an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities. 631 LEO clients have been approved for the Technical Assistance Grant.

The six LEOs in the Border region are also working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme. The aim of Co-Innovate is to give SMEs from the manufacturing and tradable services sectors in the eligible regions the tools and tailored support to help them to innovate, differentiate and compete successfully.

As part of my Department’s response to Brexit, I allocated €3 million in additional resources to Enterprise Ireland [EI] in budget 2019. EI has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-assess their exposure to Brexit and a “Be Prepared Grant” to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit. It has also launched a new Eurozone Strategy to help SMEs broaden their export footprint beyond the UK.

Over 5,300 business have used EI’s Brexit Scorecard to date and 85% of EI client firms have a plan in place, while 202 applications for the Be Prepared grant have been approved. 270 EI clients have received funding under its “Act On” programme, which supports the engagement of a consultant to help clients identify weaknesses and improve resilience. EI has also hosted 16 Brexit Advisory Clinics, including an event in Cootehill.

EI also launched a Customs Insights Online course at the beginning of the year. This is a new online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work including the documentation and process required to operate and succeed post Brexit. The Customs Insights course explains in clear and simple terms the main customs rules and included the key actions companies can take to prepare for customs after Brexit and the options from Revenue that are available to make the customs process more efficient. This will be available for any company to use whether they are importers or exporters and also whether they are agency clients or not. There have been over 1,270 Customs Insights Course participants.

Funding to InterTradeIreland has been increased by 18%. InterTradeIreland plays a major role as part of Ireland’s Brexit response and offers Brexit-related advisory services to eligible businesses. So far this year, more than 3,200 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service.

ITI also offers Brexit Planning and Brexit Implementation voucher schemes, which enable businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan, prepare and implement for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. These supports help businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services.

ITI’s Brexit Planning vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. 1,629 businesses have applied for a Brexit Planning voucher, of which 1,433 have been approved. ITI’s new Brexit Implementation Voucher provides financial support up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT), with InterTradeIreland paying 50%. This will allow businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship.

The Brexit Loan Scheme, using a combination of Irish Exchequer and EU guarantees, has leveraged up to €300 million of lending at a maximum interest rate 4% at a cost to the Exchequer of €23 million - €14 million provided by my Department and €9 million provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short-term working capital, 1 to 3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them to innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. Businesses can confirm their eligibility with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and, if deemed eligible, can apply to one of the participating finance providers for a loan under the scheme.

As at 12 July, there have been 678 applications for eligibility under the scheme, of which 608 have been approved to date by SBCI. 155 of those applications have progressed to sanction at bank value, to a total value of €34.16 million.

Uptake figures on a per county basis are available in the quarterly reports on the scheme. As of the most recent quarterly report, dated 31 March, 34 applications had been approved under the Brexit Loan Scheme from Cavan and Monaghan. The next quarterly report is expected in the coming weeks.

A Rescue and Restructuring scheme has also been put in place for “Undertakings in Difficulty” and operates under the EU Rescue and Restructuring Guidelines. Under the scheme, an undertaking is considered to be in difficulty when, without intervention by the State, it will almost certainly be condemned to going out of business in the short or medium term.

This scheme was developed as it was considered prudent to have contingency measures in place so that my Department can respond swiftly to changing circumstances, as necessary. However, there are many other supports in place that enterprises can avail of which should prevent them from reaching the point where they are in severe difficulty and at risk of going out of business. However, we also recognise the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and therefore this scheme is part of a belt and braces approach to supporting enterprise.

The Rescue and Restructuring scheme was originally approved by the EU Commission in November 2017 and was subsequently extended in May 2018 to include Temporary Restructuring Support for enterprises experiencing acute liquidity constraints. Temporary Restructuring provides for earlier intervention than is allowable under Rescue and Restructuring, thus increasing our flexibility to provide targeted support to SMEs as required.

My Department and I have participated in the whole-of-Government 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign. This campaign features workshop events throughout the country, aimed primarily at businesses and people most impacted by Brexit, including an event in Monaghan. I also hosted an event in Cavan on 4 July and one in Monaghan on 8 July to help businesses further prepare for Brexit.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, I am conscious that the delays to Brexit may have led businesses to defer their immediate planning. However, the UK’s exit from the EU will mean changes for Irish businesses, and particularly for those in the border region. I want businesses to know that my Department and its agencies are here to help. The existing supports, schemes and advice are in place to ensure that businesses are prepared for any Brexit scenario.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (1017)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1017. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the percentage of businesses in counties Cavan and Monaghan that have a formal Brexit plan in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33617/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

While the nature of the UK's departure from the EU still remains to be determined, Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland. As the Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019 draws nearer, I am very conscious of the urgent need for businesses to take action to prepare and plan for Brexit, despite current uncertainties.

I am working in collaboration with the Accountancy Bodies of Ireland and relevant State agencies organising Brexit briefing events in the Border areas that are likely to be most impacted by Brexit. These Brexit events cover a broad range of important topics to help businesses prepare for Brexit. Most recently, this month, I hosted information and advisory events in Cavan, on 4 July, and in Monaghan, on 8 July, to help businesses further prepare for Brexit.

As well as agencies from my Department, I am delighted that a number of other State agencies are participating in these events to provide hands on assistance to businesses taking part in the events. Agencies participating include the Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), InterTrade Ireland, the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and Microfinance Ireland.

In addition to these events, my Department and I have been active in the promotion of schemes and supports through participation in different campaigns, including the whole-of-Government 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign. This campaign features workshop events throughout the country, aimed primarily at businesses and people most impacted by Brexit. This included an event in the Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan Town, on 19 October, at which I was joined by an Tánaiste and Minister McEntee. This event included information on Brexit supports available and discussion of the likely impacts of Brexit on specific sectors.

The network of 31 LEOs is there to support businesses in preparing for Brexit, to ensure that businesses are informed and have plans in place to manage the new trading relationships on the island and with the UK more generally. The LEOs have organised and contributed to various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit, including events in Cavan and Monaghan.

The LEO in Cavan completed customs training workshops on 25 February and 16 July, with two further courses planned for September and November. LEO Monaghan completed customs workshops on 23 April and 18 June, with more customs workshops to be held in Castleblayney in July and September. These are in addition to Enterprise Ireland's series of 16 Brexit Advisory Clinics, which also included an event in Cootehill. The LEOs also offer one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit. To date, 84 businesses from Cavan and 46 businesses from Monaghan have benefitted from this mentoring.

InterTrade Ireland plays a major role as part of Ireland’s Brexit response and offers Brexit-related advisory services to eligible businesses. ITI also provides SME-focused Brexit events that aim to provide advice and information on Brexit and to help you plan, act and engage for the new trading relationships in a post-Brexit environment, including an event in Monaghan in November of last year and another on 4 March 2019, at which I was present.

My Department's ongoing engagement with businesses indicates that the proportion of businesses preparing for Brexit is increasing, particularly among those businesses identified as most exposed to Brexit-related impacts, and that awareness of the key Brexit challenges is also increasing. Almost 60% of Irish SMEs report a good understanding of the likely implications of Brexit impacts that are relevant to their business. The findings of our latest research suggest that planning for Brexit is increasing with almost 50% of SMEs taking some form of active engagement (up from 42% in 2018) in the form of planning or any other mitigating steps. While information is not available on a per-county basis, the figure for the Border region is 47%. Among the most impacted businesses, progress is also being made, for example more than half of exporters indicate that they have a Brexit plan. Among Enterprise Ireland clients, 85% have taken action in respect of Brexit.

Over the last two years my Department has worked to raise awareness of the key Brexit challenges which include supply chain, tariffs, customs, regulatory standards, working capital and movement of labour, goods and services; to build business preparedness levels; and to put a comprehensive set of supports in place for businesses.

While there is little clarity on the means by which the UK will leave the EU in October, my Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive supports to ensure that businesses across the country are prepared for the UK’s exit from the EU, whatever the circumstances of its departure. Evidence now shows a marked increase in the number of impacted businesses preparing for change, which is both encouraging and welcome but I am conscious that the delays to Brexit may have led some businesses to defer their immediate planning. However, the UK’s exit from the EU will mean changes for Irish businesses and I want businesses to know that my Department and its agencies are here to help.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (1018)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1018. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of capital projects being undertaken by her Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33618/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Capital allocation to my Department in 2019 is €620 million. This represents an increase of 11.7% on our 2018 allocation of €555 million. The breakdown of the capital allocations, by subhead, is set out in the table below.

Subhead

2019 REV Allocation

CAPITAL

(€,000)

A4 - Intertrade Ireland

6,695

A5 - IDA Ireland*

162,800*

A6 - NSAI

500

A7 - Enterprise Ireland

65,750

A8 - Local Enterprise Development

27,500

A9 - Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

500

A10 - INTERREG Enterprise Development

3,000

A14 – Future Growth loan Scheme

6,000

A15 – Humanitarian Relief Scheme

1

B4 – Enterprise Ireland

122,000

B4 – Science Foundation Ireland**

179,550**

B4 – Tyndall Institute

5,500

B5 – Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions

24,300

B6 – Subscriptions to International Organisations

23,504

B9 – Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

20,000

Total***

647,600***

*Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €20.8m

**Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €6.8m

***Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €27.6 million

The Capital funding provided to my Department is mainly in the way of grants to support the multi-annual programmes of our enterprise development and innovation agencies.

The National Development Plan (NDP) identified 16 specific Business, Enterprise and Innovation Priority Investments under the “Strong Economy supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills” NSO, whose delivery is the prime responsibility for DBEI.

The additional €65 million in capital money provided to my Department through the 2019 Estimates has allowed it to progress a number of the DBEI priority projects further in 2019. Specifically,

- the €20m funding provided to the Disruptive Technologies Fund ensured that the funding for projects approved under the first phase of the Fund could be drawn down in 2019

- the additional €10m provided to the IDA has enabled it to continue and expand its programme of providing property solutions, strategic sites and grants to deliver FDI across the regions of the country

- the €6m provided to the Future Growth Loan Scheme, which builds upon the €17m provided to the Scheme in 2018, will assist business to access the finance necessary to enable them to strategically transform/adapt to the impact of Brexit

- the additional €2.75 million in capital funding provided to EI has enabled it to progress a number of regionally focussed initiatives with Institutes of Technology through a programme of Regional Innovation and Technology Clusters to support regions across the country to build enterprise capability

- the capital funding provided to EI will has also allowed it to roll out the new €175 million Seed and Venture Programme which will focus on fostering a strong pipeline of high-growth innovative businesses by increasing the availability of risk capital for start-up/early stage enterprises

- the Department’s increased capital funding will ensure that Ireland can continue to expand and deepen its membership of and collaborations with international research organisations such as the European Southern Observatory and the European Space Agency

- the additional capital funding also allowed the new programmes for Postgraduate Research at Masters and PhD levels to continue to be rolled out

- the additional funding being provided to SFI has enable it to refresh its Research Centres Programme thereby strengthening collaboration with enterprises across all regions of the country

- the additional funding being provided to the Tyndall Institute has enable it to continue to upgrade and expand and stay at the forefront of new technologies

I am conscious of the importance of our capital programmes in getting business Brexit-ready, driving indigenous enterprise and regional growth and investing in research and innovation.

Brexit Supports

Questions (1019)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1019. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applicants and participants in Brexit schemes and supports provided in counties Cavan and Monaghan by her Department or agencies under her remit in tabular form; and the amount allocated and expended to each such scheme in each year since being established. [33619/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

My Department and its agencies have put in place extensive supports, schemes and advisory resources to ensure that businesses around the country are prepared for Brexit, including those in counties Cavan and Monaghan. While we cannot yet know the form that Brexit will take, these measures aim to assist businesses in identifying and managing key risk areas and developing practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

My Department and I have participated in the whole-of-Government 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign. This campaign features workshop events throughout the country, aimed primarily at businesses and people most impacted by Brexit, including an event in Monaghan. I have followed up on these success of the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready event with two further information and advisory events involving a broad range of agency earlier this month. I hosted an event in Cavan on 4 July and a further event in Monaghan on 8 July to help businesses further prepare for Brexit, with over 100 registered participants for each. I plan to follow-up these events in the coming weeks with further information events in the Border counties in particular.

A key priority for me is to increase the take-up of supports available to businesses in the Border counties, which are most exposed. The level of take-up is set out in the attached table which outlines the different Brexit-related supports available through the Department and its agencies as at 12 July 2019. Where available, the table includes information on the uptake of such schemes in counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Uptake Cavan Monaghan

Expenditure

The second table attached sets out the respective exchequer increases in allocations to ITI, EI, IDA and the LEOs between 2018 and 2019 and the cost/expenditure of the supports available. Whilst these increases are not all due to Brexit, they are mainly provided to assist the enterprise agencies in their responses to the challenges posed by Brexit.

The network of 31 LEOs is there to support businesses in preparing for Brexit, to ensure that businesses are informed and have plans in place to manage the new trading relationships on the island and with the UK more generally. The LEOs have organised and contributed to various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit, including events in Cavan and Monaghan. The LEO interactive one day Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed in a post-Brexit environment. 531 Participants have so far attended this Customs Training, of which 25 from Cavan and 32 from Monaghan.

LEO Cavan completed customs training workshops on 25 February and 16 July, with two further courses planned for September and November. LEO Monaghan completed customs workshops on 23 April and 18 June, with more customs workshops to be held in Castleblayney in July and September.

In addition, 673 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit. 84 of these businesses were from Cavan, while a further 46 were businesses from Monaghan.

The six LEOs in the Border region are also working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme. The aim of Co-Innovate is to give SMEs from the manufacturing and tradable services sectors in the eligible regions the tools and tailored support to help them to innovate, differentiate and compete successfully.

Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Scorecard allows businesses to self-assess their exposure to Brexit-related impacts. Over 5,400 business have used Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Scorecard to date, of which 132 were businesses in Cavan and 197 businesses in Monaghan. EI has also hosted 16 Brexit Advisory Clinics, including an event in Cootehill.

EI also launched a Customs Insights Online course at the beginning of the year. This is a new online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work including the documentation and process required to operate and succeed post Brexit. The Customs Insights course explains in clear and simple terms the main customs rules and included the key actions companies can take to prepare for customs after Brexit and the options from Revenue that are available to make the customs process more efficient. This is available for any company to use whether they are importers or exporters and also whether they are agency clients or not. There have been over 1,270 Customs Insights Course participants, including 39 from Cavan and 49 from Monaghan.

InterTradeIreland plays a major role as part of Ireland’s Brexit response and offers Brexit-related advisory services to eligible businesses. ITI maintains a Brexit Advisory Service to help businesses navigate their Brexit challenges. So far this year, more than 3,200 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service.

ITI also offers Brexit Planning and Brexit Implementation voucher schemes, which enable businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan, prepare and implement for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. These supports help businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services.

ITI’s Brexit Planning vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. 1,629 businesses have applied for a Brexit Planning voucher, of which 1,433 have been approved, including 53 from Cavan and 48 from Monaghan. ITI’s new Brexit Implementation Voucher provides financial support up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT), with InterTradeIreland paying 50%. This will allow businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship.

The Brexit Loan Scheme, using a combination of Irish Exchequer and EU guarantees, has leveraged up to €300 million of lending at a maximum interest rate 4% at a cost to the Exchequer of €23 million - €14 million provided by my Department and €9 million provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short-term working capital, 1 to 3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them to innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. Businesses can confirm their eligibility with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and, if deemed eligible, can apply to one of the participating finance providers for a loan under the scheme.

As at 12 July, there have been 678 applications for eligibility under the scheme, of which 608 have been approved to date by SBCI. 155 of those applications have progressed to sanction at bank value, to a total value of €34.16 million.

Uptake figures on a per county basis are available in the quarterly reports on the scheme. As of the most recent quarterly report, dated 31 March, 34 applications had been approved under the Brexit Loan Scheme from Cavan and Monaghan. The next quarterly report is expected in the coming weeks.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, I am conscious that the delays to Brexit may have led businesses to defer their immediate planning. However, the UK’s exit from the EU will mean changes for Irish businesses, and particularly for those in the border region. I want businesses to know that my Department and its agencies are here to help. The existing supports, schemes and advice are in place to ensure that businesses are prepared for any Brexit scenario.

IDA Ireland Site Visits

Questions (1020)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1020. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the most recent occasion on which the IDA visited counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath; the number of new jobs that have been created by the IDA in the past 12 months; the steps it is taking to attract companies to the counties; the success it has had with the strategy for the counties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33644/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Regional development, not just in the Border area but across Ireland, remains a key priority of mine as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Together with my Department and its enterprise Agencies, I am focused on strengthening investment and job creation all over the country. In 2018, 56% of all net new jobs created by IDA Ireland were in locations outside Dublin. Similarly, every region in Ireland, including the Border area, posted net gains in jobs last year.

While there were no new FDI-supported jobs created in Cavan in 2018, Monaghan experienced an 8% increase, with 12 jobs added by companies in the County. Similarly, Meath saw a 4.5% increase, with the creation of 67 new jobs last year.

With regard to site visits in 2019, data is now available for the first six months of this year. Counties Meath and Monaghan have each hosted two site visits so far this year. County Cavan has hosted four site visits over that same period compared to two site visits for the whole of 2018. While the IDA will continue to promote and showcase locations in these Counties to prospective investors, it is important to remember that the decision as to where to invest is always taken by the companies themselves.

My Department and the IDA have taken a number of steps to attract further investment to these Counties. As part of Budget 2019, for example, I allocated an additional €10 million for the next phase of the IDA’s Regional Property Programme (RPP). This includes plans for an Advanced Technology Unit (ATU) at Knockaconny, County Monaghan. I announced the appointment of a design and delivery team for this ATU earlier in 2019 with construction due to commence later this year. These facilities can help to encourage overseas investors to consider regional areas and I am confident that the ATU in Knockaconny, once complete, will lead to further investment and job creation.

In addition to the RPP, the IDA targets further investment for the wider area through its office in the Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre. The Agency has also appointed a new Regional Business Development Manager for the North-East Region. As part of its strategy to promote the area, the IDA is focusing on specific sectors including agri-food, manufacturing, tourism and internationally traded services. The Agency's staff regularly engage with key stakeholders on the ground in Cavan and Monaghan, including with local authorities, public bodies, the education sector and companies from both its own client base but also from the indigenous sector. County Meath, meanwhile, is being actively marketed by the IDA as a location for second sites for multinationals in the Dublin region, with a focus on building clusters in existing sectors like high-value manufacturing and international services.

In addition to the work of the IDA, my Department’s €60 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) has supported five projects within the Meath, Cavan and Monaghan area, with a total investment of €8.2 million. These include: the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District in Meath; a food centre of excellence in Ballybay; a networked digital and innovation hub in Cavan (with others located in Leitrim and Longford); an engineering business network across the North East region; and an investment of €4.9 million in a nationally significant bioeconomy innovation centre located in Monaghan.

The Government remains determined to further unlock and develop the economic potential of all Counties, including those in the Border region. The Enterprise Agencies under my remit will continue to engage with their clients, and with one another, to create more jobs and source new investment across the country.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (1021)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1021. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if the full schedule of meetings that she and her officials and advisers have had with persons directly involved with a company (details supplied) to date in 2019 will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33813/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Neither I nor my officials or advisers have had any meetings with the company in question to date in 2019.

IDA Ireland Portfolio

Questions (1022)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1022. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if progress has been made by her Department and the IDA to find a tenant for a factory (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33815/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The property in question is not owned by IDA Ireland. The Agency did, however, help arrange a viewing of it with a target company last December. The IDA is continuing to actively market the property to prospective clients through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas.

More broadly, foreign direct investment levels (FDI) in Kerry are trending in the right direction. There are currently 17 IDA client companies employing approximately 2,300 people in the County. This is an increase of 2.5% compared to 2017. In the last year we've also seen a number of significant FDI job announcements in Kerry, including 100 new jobs at JRI America and 100 new roles at Central Pharma.

While progress has been made in helping to generate new economic opportunities in County Kerry, the Government remains determined to attract more FDI to the County and the wider South-West region. The work of the IDA is obviously key in that respect and the Agency's staff will continue engaging with its clients, as well as the other enterprise agencies, to help create more jobs in the time ahead.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (1023)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

1023. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons that attended the Brexit roadshow since it commenced to date in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33867/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

As the Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019 draws nearer, I am very conscious of the urgent need for businesses to take action to prepare and plan for Brexit, despite current uncertainties.

I am working in collaboration with the Accountancy Bodies of Ireland and relevant State agencies organising Brexit briefing events in some of the areas that are likely to be most impacted by Brexit. These Brexit events cover a broad range of important topics to help businesses prepare for Brexit. They cover the suite of Government financial supports available to businesses, including specific Brexit loan schemes; the complex issue of customs procedures and formalities as well as other import and export controls in the agri food sector, supply chain management issues as well as issues that businesses need to be aware of around accreditation and product certification to ensure continued access to the EU market post Brexit.

As well as agencies from my Department, I am delighted that a number of other State agencies are participating in the events to provide hands on assistance to businesses taking part in the events. Agencies participating include the Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), InterTradeIreland, the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and Microfinance Ireland.

Two events have taken place to date, the first in Cavan on 4 July and the second in Monaghan on 8 July. Registrations for both events were in excess of 100 with final numbers at the Cavan event at c. 70 people and c. 80 people at the Monaghan event. On Thursday of this week I am holding a further event in Donegal town to cover the counties of Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. Currently, registrations for this event are running in excess of 130.

I plan to hold a further Brexit briefing event in Louth for the counties of Louth and Meath in early September.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) has delivered Brexit events nationally to support businesses to analyse their Brexit exposure and take vital action. These events provide information and practical support through individual meetings in the following areas:

- Strategic Sourcing

- Financial & Currency Management

- Customs Transport & Logistics

To date there have been 16 EI Brexit Advisory Clinics which took place between 2017 and 2019 across the country, with over 1,200 participants at these clinics. These events took place at Letterkenny (x2), Tralee, Portlaoise, Claremorris, Cootehill, Charleville, Dublin (x2), Galway (x2), Dundalk, Waterford, Limerick, Cork and Portlaoise.

The 31 Local Enterprise Offices have had 4,655 participants attend their LEO Brexit events to date. It is estimated that there have been approximately 200 LEO led Brexit Seminars/events. Such seminars/events include the following:

- Is Your Business Ready for Brexit

- Brexit Programme - MEET THE USA BUYERS - PROGRAMME

- Brexit Strategy Development Workshop 1

- Beyond Local - Why making your marketplace international makes total sense

- Exporting to Germany - Opportunities for food producers

- Get your Business Brexit Ready

- LEO Meath BREXIT Preparatory Seminar

- Brexit Proof Your Business

- Bracing Tipperary Business for Brexit-Horse & Jockey

To date the LEOs have run 36 Customs Workshops, with a total of 531 participants. There are 12 workshops planned in the short term with further courses to be scheduled.

InterTradeIreland have held 18 Brexit-related events since 2017, with over 2,000 participants at these events.

These have all been in addition to the Government’s ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ public information campaign which was launched in September 2018 to inform and advise about Brexit preparedness and the range of support measures and resources that the Government has put in place. Over 2,500 people attended public outreach events held throughout October and November in Cork, Galway, Monaghan, Dublin, Limerick and Letterkenny with strong participation from the business community.

My Department has also prepared a checklist of key actions that businesses can take now to ensure that they will still be able to trade with the UK after it leaves the EU. I was pleased to announce the checklist at the first Brexit event in Cavan. The checklist is available on my Department's website at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Brexit-Preparedness-Checklist.html. It also contains useful contact details for the various Government Departments and Agencies that provide support and advice for businesses preparing for Brexit.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (1024)

David Cullinane

Question:

1024. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if the expenditure estimates for capital projects in County Waterford under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of her Department and agencies match projected cost requirements in tabular from; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33900/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Capital allocation to my Department in 2019 is €620 million. This represents an increase of 11.7% on our 2018 allocation of €555 million. The breakdown of the capital allocations, by subhead, is set out in the table below.

Subhead

2019 REV Allocation

CAPITAL

(€,000)

A4 - Intertrade Ireland

6,695

A5 - IDA Ireland*

162,800*

A6 - NSAI

500

A7 - Enterprise Ireland

65,750

A8 - Local Enterprise Development

27,500

A9 - Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

500

A10 - INTERREG Enterprise Development

3,000

A14 – Future Growth loan Scheme

6,000

A15 – Humanitarian Relief Scheme

1

B4 – Enterprise Ireland

122,000

B4 – Science Foundation Ireland**

179,550**

B4 – Tyndall Institute

5,500

B5 – Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions

24,300

B6 – Subscriptions to International Organisations

23,504

B9 – Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

20,000

Total***

647,600***

*Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €20.8m

**Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €6.8m

***Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €27.6 million

The Capital funding provided to my Department is mainly in the way of grants to support the multi-annual programmes of our enterprise development and innovation agencies.

The National Development Plan (NDP) identified 16 specific Business, Enterprise and Innovation Priority Investments under the “Strong Economy supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills” NSO, whose delivery is the prime responsibility for DBEI.

The additional €65 million in capital money provided to my Department through the 2019 Estimates has allowed it to progress a number of the DBEI priority projects further in 2019. Specifically,

- the €20m funding provided to the Disruptive Technologies Fund ensured that the funding for projects approved under the first phase of the Fund could be drawn down in 2019

- the additional €10m provided to the IDA has enabled it to continue and expand its programme of providing property solutions, strategic sites and grants to deliver FDI across the regions of the country

- the €6m provided to the Future Growth Loan Scheme, which builds upon the €17m provided to the Scheme in 2018, will assist business to access the finance necessary to enable them to strategically transform/adapt to the impact of Brexit

- the additional €2.75 million in capital funding provided to EI has enabled it to progress a number of regionally focussed initiatives with Institutes of Technology through a programme of Regional Innovation and Technology Clusters to support regions across the country to build enterprise capability

- the capital funding provided to EI will has also allowed it to roll out the new €175 million Seed and Venture Programme which will focus on fostering a strong pipeline of high growth innovative businesses by increasing the availability of risk capital for start-up/early stage enterprises

- the Department’s increased capital funding will ensure that Ireland can continue to expand and deepen its membership of and collaborations with international research organisations such as the European Southern Observatory and the European Space Agency

- the additional capital funding also allowed the new programmes for Postgraduate Research at Masters and PhD levels to continue to be rolled out

- the additional funding being provided to SFI has enable it to refresh its Research Centres Programme thereby strengthening collaboration with enterprises across all regions of the country

- the additional funding being provided to the Tyndall Institute has enable it to continue to upgrade and expand and stay at the forefront of new technologies

More specifically, Enterprise Ireland has paid approximately €3.8 million to client companies in Waterford between 2016 and 2018. In addition, EI has approved funding totalling €59.5 million to 42 projects under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. Three projects funded under the REDF in Waterford and the South East region include; Three-D, Crystal Valley Tech and Incupharm.

The Local Enterprise Offices are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice and guidance, financial assistance and other local supports if you intend to start or grow your own business. To date in 2019 the Waterford LEO has been allocated €1,366,324 with any further allocations of funding to be based on demand and disbursed on a competitive basis among the LEOs.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) levels in Waterford are trending in the right direction. There are currently 38 IDA client companies in the County employing 7,064 people, representing an increase of 5% from 2017 to 2018. Since 2012, Waterford has also witnessed a 38% increase in employment in overseas companies. Waterford has maintained a strong reputation as a successful home to firms from the MedTech and Pharmaceuticals sectors. Companies like GlaxosSmithKline, Sanofi and Opko's Irish subsidiary EirGen Pharma are all located there and continue to perform well.

In terms of recent investments, in May 2019 Allstate Sales Group Inc. (ASG), a provider of turnkey engineering and construction services to the telecommunications industry announced it is to establish software development and CAD support centres in Ireland, at locations in Waterford and Sligo, creating 200 new jobs (100 jobs in each location) over the three years. It is the company’s first operations outside the US.

Bausch and Lomb announced last November that it will expand its contact lens manufacturing capacity at its Waterford site which will create up to 100 new jobs. In October 2018, Eurofins BioPharma opened a new extension to its laboratory facility in Dungarvan, more than doubling its facility footprint. Furthermore, last July, West Pharmaceuticals opened a new global centre of excellence in Waterford City for its advanced manufacturing network.

As part of its €150m Regional Property Programme (RPP) the IDA are directly investing in a building programme to help ensure property solutions are in place for overseas companies considering investing or expanding in Ireland, thereby encouraging more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the regions. Budget 2019 also saw the Agency allocated an additional €10m for the RPP bringing its yearly capital budget for property to €47m.

Under the first phase of the RPP, an Advanced Technology Building (ATB) was completed in 2015 and the IDA successfully secured Opko Health as a tenant. A second ATB was completed in Waterford in May 2019 and this building is being actively marketed by the IDA to investors through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas.

Under the second phase of the RPP, construction will begin in 2020 on a third ATB for Waterford. Once the first and second phases of the RPP are completed there will be a total of three buildings constructed in Waterford and I am confident that these will stimulate further investment and job creation for the entire county.

While progress has been made in helping to generating new investment in County Waterford, the Government remains determined to attract more FDI to Waterford City and the wider area. The work of the IDA is obviously key in that respect and the Agency's staff will continue engaging with its clients, as well as the other enterprise agencies, to help create more jobs and economic opportunities.

Work Permits Applications Data

Questions (1025, 1038, 1039, 1041, 1052)

Robert Troy

Question:

1025. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of businesses that have been approved as trusted partners for the application of work permits; the way in which a business qualifies to be a trusted partner; and the timeframe for processing an application for both trusted partner and non-trusted partners. [33934/19]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

1038. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applications for work permits received in each month to date in 2019; the number of applications that were fully processed at the end of each month; and the number that were not fully processed by the end of each month in tabular form. [34626/19]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

1039. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps being taken to increase the speed at which work permits are being issued; the number of outstanding work permits at the end of each of the first six months of 2019 that remain to be processed by sector in tabular form. [34627/19]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

1041. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons by Civil Service grade working in the employment permits section of her Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and the annual funding allocation to the section in 2019. [34629/19]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

1052. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applications for work permits received in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the average processing time, that is, average number of weeks for applications to be processed in each year and to date in 2019; and the EU average number of weeks it takes to process applications by member state in tabular form. [34641/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1025, 1038, 1039, 1041 and 1052 together.

The Employment Permits section of my Department informs me that there are currently 1,017 registered Trusted Partners.

The objective of the Trusted Partner initiative is to ease the administrative burden on employers in expansion mode/start-ups and regular users of the employment permits system. A Trusted Partner employer will have reduced paperwork for permit applications and a faster turnaround in processing permit applications.

My officials consider a number of criteria when assessing Trusted Partner applications including that the employer should be a regular user of the employment permit system or is in expansion mode. If an employer expects to become a regular user of the employment permits system they should provide a business case outlining the reasons why the company will become a regular user in the near future, for example upcoming expansion of the business; an expected increase to their workforce or a schedule of recruitment of new employees.

All other information required to become a Trusted Partner is included in the checklist document that my officials have produced in order to assist with applications for the Trusted Partner Initiative. The checklist document, if followed, should result in the granting of Trusted Partner status. The checklist is available here - https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Trusted-Partner-Registration-Checklist.pdf.

An application to register as a Trusted Partner can be made online at the following link - https://epos.djei.ie/EPOSOnlineportal#/app/findFormAssistant.

The Employment Permits section is working to reduce the current waiting times of approx. three weeks for Trusted Partner applications which account for 71% of total applications and approx. fourteen weeks for Standard applications, accounting for 29% of applications.

As the economy improves and we approach full employment my Department has experienced a high volume of employment permit applications which has led to delays in processing applications. At the end of June 2019 there was an 11% increase in the amount of applications received (9,106 applications received) over the same period in 2018. At the same time there has been a 36% increase in the amount of applications processed (9,140 applications processed) compared to the same period last year, clearly demonstrating that productivity is improving. It should be noted that June 2019 was the busiest month for processing applications in more than 11 years.

To reduce processing times, the Employment Permits section has introduced a number of operational changes, streamlined processes and implemented ICT solutions. Additional staffing resources have also been assigned to the section and a fast track training programme has been devised and implemented. In addition an independent Business Process Reengineering Review for the Employment Permits section will commence shortly as a first step in the development of a new IT processing system which will take advantage of all the new technologies available, including full digitisation.

I can assure the Deputy that all available resources are being deployed with the aim of reducing processing times. My officials have been proactively engaging with customers to notify them of current delays through email, meetings and regular updates on the Employment Permits section of my Department’s website.

There is no specific funding allocation for the Employment Permits section. Funding is met from within the Department’s overall administration budget.

My Department does not hold the requested information regarding average processing times for employment permits processed by other EU states.

There is no statistical breakdown by economic sector for applications that are in the processing queue as all permit applications remain in the processing queue until reached for processing at which stage the appropriate economic sector is assigned. However I have attached the 2019 to date monthly breakdown of applications awaiting decision.

All other statistics requested by the Deputy are attached.

2019

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

TOTAL

Number of Applications Received

1,172

1,358

1,213

1,575

2,047

1,741

9,106

Number of Applications Processed

1,738

1,399

1,437

1,272

1,539

1,755

9,140

2019

End Jan 2019

End Feb 2019

End Mar 2019

End Apr 2019

End May 2019

End Jun 2019

Total Number of Applications in the processing queue at the end of each Month that are not fully processed

2,183

(includes 398 applications at various stages of processing)

2,167

(includes 441 applications at various stages of processing)

1,928

(includes 419 applications at various stages of processing)

2,264

(includes 458 applications at various stages of processing)

2,666

(includes 542 applications at various stages of processing)

2,754

(includes 669 applications at various stages of processing)

Total applications for Employment Permits 2016 - 2019

Year

Applications Received

Average Processing Times (Business Days)

2019

9,142 (first half of year)

36 Days

2018

16,768

38 Days

2017

13,333

26 Days

2016

11,317

22 days

Please find below the number of persons by Civil Service grade working in the Employment Permits section of my Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form.

26/12/2014

25/12/2015

30/12/2016

29/12/2017

28/12/2018

19/07/2019

Grade

Seat Count

FTE

Seat Count

FTE

Seat Count

FTE

Seat Count

FTE

Seat Count

FTE

Seat Count

FTE

PO

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

AP

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

HEO

3

2.5

3

2.5

1

0.5

3

2.5

3

2.5

3

2.5

EO

4

4

5

5

5

5

9

8

8

7.5

8

7.5

SO

4

3

3

2

4

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

CO

14

13.1

12

11.6

17

16.8

21

19.3

21

20.1

25

24.1

Total

27

24.6

25

23.1

29

27.3

35

31.8

34

32.1

38

36.1

Trade Agreements

Questions (1026)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1026. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department carried out economic and sustainability assessments in relation to a proposed Mercosur trade deal as the talks progressed over the past two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33972/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The EU-Mercosur deal was agreed in principle on 28 June last after nearly 20 years of negotiations.

Irish exporters are currently subject to trade tariffs, barriers and restrictions when exporting to Mercosur. This Agreement will see a significant reduction, or elimination of tariffs and barriers to trade that will allow a cross flow of trading and investment between Ireland and the rest of the EU, and the Mercosur region. The EU-Mercosur Agreement will make exports from Ireland more attractive and potentially increase the demand for Irish products.

My Department commissioned, under open tender, Copenhagen Economics, an independent trade and economics consultancy, to undertake a report on the combined impacts of a selection of recently concluded and prospective EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) for Ireland. The report was to identify the opportunities and challenges for Ireland from Free Trade Agreements and to develop recommendations to maximise gains and mitigate the challenges that can arise.

The analysis was to take a portfolio approach and cover a total of seven recently agreed or prospective EU FTAs:

- two of which are already implemented - South Korea and, provisionally, CETA with Canada

- two are more recently concluded - Japan and Mexico, and

- three prospective - Mercosur, Australia and New Zealand, albeit political agreement has so recently been reached on Mercosur.

In order to fully assess the combined impact of the seven FTAs on the Irish economy, the study utilises an internationally recognised Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model of global trade, one which has been employed in several impact assessments of prospective FTAs by the European Commission. It was also employed in the assessment of the impact of Brexit on the Irish economy undertaken by Copenhagen Economics for my Department in 2017.

The CGE model quantifies the expected macroeconomic and sectoral impacts of the FTAs on the Irish economy in 2030. This is done by comparing two future states of the Irish economy: one without the FTAs in 2030 and an ambitious scenario, where all seven FTAs are in place and fully implemented in 2030. A key input to the model is the expected reduction in trade costs between the EU and each partner country. This includes both tariffs and non-tariff barriers or NTBs (regulatory barriers to trade and services barriers). The study models for the impacts of FTAs and different Brexit scenarios. For sensitivity analysis, the study also models for a more modest scenario where the FTAs are not all fully implemented by 2030.

In addition to the model simulations, interviews were conducted with a broad range of stakeholders. Insights from all sources are combined to qualify conclusions and to formulate policy recommendations.

The primary research for the report has been completed and indicated opportunities for export growth in relation to Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Business Services, ICT and other manufacturing and challenges in respect the beef sector.

However, we now have specific details rather than earlier best estimates of the terms of the Mercosur Agreement. Accordingly, as the Deputy will be aware, the Government has committed to a full economic and environmental sustainability assessment on the EU-Mercosur deal on the basis of the more detailed information which was announced as part of the recent political agreement. This study will be commissioned shortly by my Department in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.