The Deputy will be aware that decisions in relation to the funding allocated to Government Departments and their Agencies are determined through the annual budgetary and estimates process. The Deputy will also be aware of the recent reforms that have been undertaken in relation to the budgetary cycle, not least the rolling programme of Spending Reviews which commenced in 2017. The Spending Review process allows for the systematic examination of existing expenditure programmes to assess their effectiveness in meeting policy objectives and also provides for a robust evidence base on key expenditure issues to inform discussion in the course of the budgetary and estimates process.
Insofar as my Department is concerned, as part of the Spending Review process, my Department in conjunction with the Irish Government Economic Evaluation Service of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has conducted a comprehensive programme of evaluations of supports to enterprise by the Department's Enterprise Agencies, including supports provided to enterprise by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. These evaluations have included discrete reviews of EI/IDA supports in the following areas:
- Supports for Start Up and Entrepreneurship
- Supports for Research, Development and Innovation
- Supports for Business Development
The evaluation of these programmes show that the enterprise agency’s financial supports are aligned with enterprise policy objectives. The analysis completed by the Evaluations Unit in my Department provides a comprehensive bank of evidence that is helping to improve the overall system for design and delivery of supports to enterprise by IDA and Enterprise Ireland.
In addition to aforementioned Spending Review evaluations, the allocations to my Department’s Enterprise Agencies also reflect the commitments agreed under the Programme for a Partnership Government. In this regard the Deputy will be aware of the commitment under the Programme for Partnership Government to create 200,000 new jobs by 2020, 135,000 of which are to be located outside of Dublin and the roles identified for EI and IDA in the Programme to achieve this commitment.
In addition to the aforementioned evaluations and Programme for Partnership Government commitments, the Deputy will also appreciate that budgetary discussions in the course of the estimates process are clearly informed by a variety of other factors not least, the position of the public finances, the economic cycle and emerging challenges, the most recent of which clearly is Brexit.
The Deputy will appreciate, therefore, that the allocations to my Department’s Enterprise Agencies, which have been significantly increased in recent years, have been informed by the evidence of the aforementioned evaluations of the value of EI/IDA supports in promoting enterprise and employment, the employment and regional development commitments under the Programme for a Partnership Government and the need to prepare enterprises for emerging challenges such as Brexit.