Thursday, 31 January 2019

Ceisteanna (20)

Charlie McConalogue


20. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps she will take to assist companies in the Border counties to be prepared for Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4437/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks. We are working in all regions, no more so than in the Border counties where there are very specific vulnerabilities due to the integrated nature of business supply chains, labour markets and day-to-day commerce.

As part of the Government's overall Brexit information outreach, my Department and I have been very active in the 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign, including in Monaghan in October and in Letterkenny in November last. Revenue held a customs seminar in Dundalk last week. This week the NSAI is hosting Brexit events in Cavan, Monaghan and Sligo and further events are in planning by my Department and agencies.

As part of Budget 2019, I allocated an additional €1million to InterTradeIreland (ITI). The ITI Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading post-Brexit. ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, worth up to €2,250, for professional advice on preparing for Brexit. 

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in the Border Regions are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business and preparing for Brexit. To date, 402 LEO clients have received one-to-one Brexit mentoring. I allocated an additional capital funding of €5 million in Budget 2019 to the LEOs to step-up their Brexit preparedness work. 

In addition, the six LEOs in the Border region are working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme, to help firms to innovate, differentiate and compete.

In December, I announced Call 2 of the competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). Taking the first and second calls of the REDF together, the Border Region had seven successful projects with a total funding allocation of more than €10.6 million.

I will also shortly be launching the refresh of the North-West and the North-East Action Plans for Jobs and Brexit will be an ongoing priority area for both Committees.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides working capital for up to three years, to eligible businesses to adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. The Brexit Future Growth Loan Scheme was announced in Budget 2019 and will provide a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit.

Last week I announced the Enterprise Ireland (EI) Annual Results where every region in Ireland recorded increases in employment, including a 9% increase in the North West and a 3% increase in the North East. Over 23,700 of employment in EI clients of 215,207 are in the Border region. Some of the recent EI jobs announcements for the region have included 90 new jobs in E & I Engineering in Donegal and 200 new jobs in Combilift in Co. Monaghan.

EI also recently launched a new Customs online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work.  

Last week I met with European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager and she assured me the Commission stands ready to work with us to support Brexit viable but vulnerable firms.   

With Brexit around the corner, I want businesses, particularly those around the Border counties to know my Department and agencies are here to help.