Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ceisteanna (45)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

45. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will reconsider plans to dissolve the county enterprise boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33554/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Jobs)

Micro and small businesses are the engine of the Irish economy employing over 650,000 people. A key part of the Government’s plans for jobs and growth is ensuring that we deliver a truly world-class service for this sector. The purpose of restructuring the current model for the delivery of State supports to that sector is to rejuvenate and enhance the national model so as to ensure that the micro and small business sector is properly positioned to be a lead player in relation to job creation and to the economic recovery process.

The new Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) will draw and build on the successful County Enterprise Board (CEB) model which has supported over 33,000 jobs across the country since 1993, as well as 900 new projects per annum and almost 25,000 training participants per annum. The enhanced model is designed to harness the best elements of the enterprise agencies and local government and to support local business and contribute to local development. For the first time, the skills, experience and resources of Enterprise Ireland, the CEBs and the Local Authorities will be combined in a structured and coherent manner to benefit micro and small businesses. The LEOs will be the first-stop-shop through which all information on State supports for small and micro businesses can be accessed and where businesses with clear high growth potential can be fast-tracked to the next level of support from EI.

As part of the reform process, the CEBs will be dissolved and their functions, assets and liabilities transferred to Enterprise Ireland to be delivered by the LEO in each Local Authority area under a robust Service Level Agreement (SLA) between Enterprise Ireland and the Local Authorities. The SLA will set out robust Performance Indicators measuring employment, start-ups and other metrics. A key element of new structure will be the consistent application of policy across all LEOs from the evaluation of applications to the spending of budgets allocated. This will be monitored using the agreed SLA in each Local Authority. The on-going drawdown of budgets by LEOs will be contingent on them reaching agreed targets.

Minister Perry and I have consulted widely in the context of this proposed reform and we view the restructuring of the supports as an important opportunity to get a combined effort in behind start-ups and small business and we shall vigorously work to harness the potential of the new model.