I thank the Deputy for raising the issue. Future Jobs Ireland is the Government’s plan to meet the challenges of productivity performance and technological changes which we face as an economy and as a society. Under Future Jobs Ireland, I am committed to strengthening the capacity of the LEOs to provide a comprehensive suite of supports for indigenous Irish businesses and entrepreneurs, including addressing any gaps in such supports in order to achieve a step-change in enterprise productivity and innovation and to build resilience for the future.
Enterprise policy is a rolling agenda and requires a continuous assessment of action to be undertaken on an annual basis. The operations of our enterprise agencies are regularly reviewed and evaluated, including in regard to the effectiveness of their enterprise supports structures. Many of the actions in the Department’s overarching enterprise policy agenda, Future Jobs Ireland, at both business environment and firm level, are key to driving productivity growth across all sectors, including investments in talent and in physical, digital and research infrastructures. The LEOs are also working towards these aims and ambitions.
Enterprise Ireland is responsible for the overall administration of the local enterprise offices in partnership with my Department and the local authorities, and this is a partnership which is working extremely well. The LEOs, working locally on the ground, are at the coalface of business supports for microenterprises in all their variations throughout Ireland and understand the needs of their local business community.
Under budget 2019, the local enterprise office funding has been increased by 22% through additional capital funding of €5 million and this increase is being used to assist microenterprises in becoming more competitive and better able to cope with the changing environment in which they do business. The suite of LEO Brexit supports includes tailored mentoring to address Brexit-related business challenges and targeted ongoing training on specific Brexit challenges, such as customs clearance.
In terms of plans for reviewing the operations of the LEOs, the Department has been working with the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, regions and cities on a crucial review of SME and entrepreneurship policies and issues. This review is currently nearing completion and will be launched on 23 October 2019.