Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (743)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

743. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the supports being provided to the retail sector to prepare for Brexit in view of the difficulties that may arise for the retail supply chain; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36490/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As part of the whole of Government response to Brexit, I and my Department officials are working to support the grocery retail and distribution sector in its efforts to prepare for Brexit.

Indeed, my Department has had ongoing engagement with the retail sector in relation to Brexit since 2016, principally through the Retail Consultation Forum (RCF) which I chair. Membership of the RCF includes retail associations such as Retail Ireland, Retail Excellence, CSNA, RGDATA, other bodies such as ISME, SFA and Chambers Ireland, a number of retailers, the City and County Managers Association (CCMA), and a number of relevant Government Departments.

Also, I have convened a number of roundtable discussions with the main Retail Grocery and Distribution players to better understand the contingency planning that is ongoing within that sector to provide for continued food supplies.  [13 December 2018, 24 January 2019, 19 February 2019, 26 March 2019, 11th July 2019].

For these discussions with the industry players, I have also included the relevant State authorities: Revenue; Department of Agriculture and the Marine; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Food Safety Authority of Ireland; and Dublin Port. At these meetings the retailers and distributors have had the opportunity to raise issues and seek clarifications/advice from the relevant Departments and Agencies. In turn, the Departments and agencies have been able to share key messages and necessary actions to take with the retailers and distributors directly.

More broadly, my Department and its agencies have been working to prepare Irish businesses including retailers, for the potential challenges posed by Brexit by helping them to assess their preparedness and helping them to implement practical action plans in areas such as customs, supply chain and sourcing, and financial management. 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 develop practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Government’s suite of Brexit supports include preparedness vouchers, consultancy and mentoring supports, tariff advisory services, research on new markets and innovation supports through Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and InterTrade Ireland. Supports and advice is also available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Revenue, Skillnet Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Bord Bia and Failte Ireland.

The most immediate consequences of a hard Brexit are likely to be currency movements, supply chain constraints, delays, duties and tariffs. In the first instance, there will be a strain on the working capital position of businesses.

Of the Government’s suite of supports, the €300m Brexit Loan Scheme is designed to address working capital challenges brought about by Brexit. Under the Scheme, loans of up to €1.5 million are available at a rate of 4% or less, with loans of up to €500,000 available on an unsecured basis. Similarly, the €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme is designed to support strategic long-term investment in SMEs in a post-Brexit environment.

InterTrade Ireland also 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 offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher and Brexit Implementation Voucher schemes, which enables 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 Brexit Start to Plan vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. 1,613 businesses have applied for a Brexit Start to Plan voucher, of which 1,405 have been approved. ITI 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.

In August, ITI launched a new advertising campaign and a new online resource to encourage and assist firms in preparing for Brexit. The online “Bitesize Brexit” resource is a one-stop-shop for cross-border traders, presenting information in easily digestible segments and includes specific actions businesses should take in preparing for Brexit.

The Irish Government, in association with key industry partners, also launched a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU. The new initiative called Clear Customs comprises of a training programme and a customs financial support to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to customs roles.

In addition, the Government has held over 100 Brexit information seminars and events since last September. Furthermore, my Department has engaged with enterprises through the Brexit Consultation Forum and continues to host a series of Brexit information meetings in the Border Region in collaboration with the Accountancy Bodies of Ireland.

I will continue to engage with the retail sector on preparatory actions.

International Conventions

Ceisteanna (744)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

744. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the reason Ireland failed to ratify ILO Convention 129 on Labour Inspections in Agriculture (1969); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36502/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Convention 129 on Labour Inspection in Agriculture was not ratified at the time of its adoption by the ILO International Labour Conference in 1969 as the view was taken that it would require the establishment of a single labour inspectorate for agriculture to include Occupational Safety and Health.  This would have required significant changes to the existing administrative structures.  As part of the ILO’s Centenary Ratification Campaign, Convention 129 is being examined this year with a view to establishing whether Ireland may be in a position to ratify it.  The review of Convention 129 is being done in line with our standard approach to the ratification of international instruments.  Ireland does not ratify international conventions until any necessary amendments to domestic legislation have been identified and effected.  If, following the review of the Convention, it is decided that Ireland is in a position to ratify it a stakeholder consultation will take place.

In the interim, it is important to note that the remit of both the WRC, and its predecessors, and the HSA extends to all sectors, including agriculture.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (745)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

745. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has raised at recent European Council meetings Irish concerns on a proposed Mercosur deal and its adverse effects on the beef, poultry and pig meat sectors; the stage the assessment of the proposed trade deal being undertaken by her Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is at; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36547/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

On 28 June, the EU concluded negotiations for an Association Agreement with the Mercosur countries after nearly 20 years and 40 rounds of talks. This marks the EU’s largest trade deal to date and is four times the size of the trade agreement with Japan.

Irish exporters have been 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 which will allow an increased flow of trade and investment between Ireland, the EU and the Mercosur region. The EU-Mercosur Agreement should make exports from Ireland more attractive, and potentially increase the demand for Irish products.

As with every Free Trade Agreement, Ireland – like all Member States – has defensive as well as offensive interests. The Agreement with Mercosur presents sectorial opportunities for Ireland in areas such as software and services in telecoms, financial services, digital content and travel, engineering products and services, life sciences, food and beverages, and education services.  On the other hand, I was always keenly aware of the potential impact that this Agreement could present to the EU’s and Ireland’s agricultural sector. In that regard, Ireland, along with a number of other Member States, asserted early on in the negotiations that agricultural sensitivities - and beef in particular - must be fully considered in the negotiations. 

Ireland has also continually highlighted the cumulative impact of agricultural market access across a range of products, including those identified by the Deputy, in relation to all EU trade agreements. Our concerns have been raised at all political levels, including by myself and my officials raising the issues with counterparts, both at Trade Council of Ministers deliberations and bilaterally with the EU Commission, and with my Member State counterparts.  For example, I wrote to the EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, as recently as 31st May this year to restate my views, which I had previously articulated at European Trade Council meetings, as well as directly with the Trade Commissioner, regarding the current challenges facing the beef sector.  I had sought assurances from the Commission that the final offer on beef – an offensive demand from the Mercosur side – would ensure that:

- the tariff rate quota for beef was low,

- that phasing-in periods were designed to allow sufficient time for Irish and EU industry to adjust,

- the Commission continually monitor quota levels taking into account domestic market conditions,

- the composition of beef imports from the region would be limited in relation to fresh chilled beef, and

- robust checks would be established and monitored at points of import to the EU to ensure animal health and welfare standards have been maintained.

As I am sure the Deputy is also aware, An Taoiseach joined the leaders of France, Poland and Belgium on 17 June, in writing to Commission President Juncker expressing our concerns on the inclusion of sensitive agricultural products in the negotiations, and stating that the current quotas for such products were not be to increased.

Following the conclusion of negotiations for the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, the Government committed to undertake full economic and environmental sustainability assessments of the political agreement.  My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is commissioning the studies. 

These assessments will consider the impact the Agreement will have on the Irish economy and on jobs, as well as the environmental implications of the deal. It will also consider how the EU-Mercosur Agreement might mitigate/exacerbate the likely impact of Brexit for our economy. This assessment will help to inform our future actions in relation to the EU-Mercosur Agreement.

Startup Funding

Ceisteanna (746)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

746. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the funding provided for start-up support. [36660/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has been continually supporting and encouraging start-up enterprises and entrepreneurs nationally through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and Enterprise Ireland (EI) with both agencies contributing to the economic success of the country. They are central to the continued growth of small and medium business and the success of future start up enterprises and entrepreneurs.

The LEOs, located in the Local Authorities nationwide provide a ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice, guidance, financial assistance and other supports for entrepreneurs intending to start or grow a business.

LEO grant support schemes for start-ups include Priming Grants, which are available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up and may be paid to buy new equipment and assist with direct business costs such as salary, rent, utilities, marketing and consultancy. In 2018, the LEOs approved 273 applications to the value of €6,379,733.

The LEOs may also offer a Feasibility Study Grant, the aim of which is to assist start-ups with the cost of researching a new business idea to establish viability and sustainability. In 2018 the LEOs approved 165 applications to the value of €1,491,230.

The LEOs can work with clients on their applications to Microfinance Ireland (MFI) for small business loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 (unsecured). Loans for commercially viable proposals can be used to help fund start-up costs, working capital or business expansion. By applying for an MFI small business loan through a Local Enterprise Office, clients can avail of a 1% reduction in the interest rate charged.

In addition, the LEOs run Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur Programme with an investment fund of €2 million, which is open to people between the ages of 18 and 35 with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business.

Furthermore, the Agile Innovation Fund has been developed by Enterprise Ireland to support product, service and process innovation to build competitive advantage. The key benefit of this support is that it allows for a simple application process and delivers a faster response time from application to approval. The new Agile Innovation Fund is also open to eligible Local Enterprise Office clients and it allows companies to access up to 50% in support towards innovation projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.

Additionally, Enterprise Ireland actively works with High Potential Start-Ups, companies with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale in international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1m in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up. In 2018, Enterprise Ireland supported 82 HPSUs within the Class of 2018 with equity investment.

In 2018, Enterprise Ireland approved 50 new early stage businesses investments of up to €50,000 each through a series of Competitive Start Fund calls to support companies to reach key technical and commercial milestones.

The LEOs and Enterprise Ireland are an outstanding resource available to businesses and their variety of clients in such a diversity of sectors is a demonstration of the expertise available through these Agencies. Businesses that work closely with benefit significantly from the supports, mentoring and training they provide. My  Department will ensure that the enterprise agencies continue to get the resources they need to create jobs and allow start-up enterprises to flourish throughout all regions.

Research and Development Funding

Ceisteanna (747)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

747. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the funding provided for research and development. [36661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Government Budget Allocations for R&D (GBARD) was €739.3m in 2017. It is estimated to have been €751.7m in 2018. These figures are compiled based on the R&D Budget survey undertaken each year of 30 Government Departments and agencies that spend money on R&D.  2017 is the most recently available data from the R&D budget. More information can be found in the R&D Budget 2017-2018 report available at the following link:

https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/The-R-D-Budget-2017-2018.html.

The R&D Budget Survey for 2018-2019 is currently in the field with results expected to be published in late October 2019.

Company Registration

Ceisteanna (748)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

748. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount collected in search fees by the Companies Registration Office in 2018; and the cost of eradicating search fees on its datasets. [36662/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Companies Registration Office (CRO), which is independent in the exercise of its statutory functions,  is the central repository of public statutory company law related information on Irish companies.  Its main functions are the provision of information to the public, the incorporation of companies and the registration of company post-incorporation documentation.

In 2018, the CRO received €909,873 in search fees. The average amount received in search fees over the past 5 years from 2014 - 2018 was €843,344 per year. The cost of abolishing search fees could result in an annual loss to the exchequer of approximately €843,344.  There would also be a small direct cost to the exchequer related to the IT work necessary to remove the fees function from the Company Search Facility.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (749)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

749. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of food businesses that have applied for working capital under the Brexit loan scheme which opened in March 2018; the number of such businesses that have been sanctioned financing to date; and the value of same. [36821/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Brexit Loan Scheme provides affordable working capital to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees that are or will be Brexit impacted and which meet the scheme criteria. The €23 million exchequer funding (€14 million from my Department and €9 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) has been leveraged to provide a fund of up to €300 million over the lifetime of the scheme.

The scheme features a two-stage application process. First, businesses must apply to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to confirm their eligibility for the scheme. Businesses can use guidelines provided on the SBCI website to determine if they are eligible, and if so, to complete the eligibility form. As part of the process, businesses must submit a business plan, demonstrating the means by which they intend to innovate, change or adapt to meet their Brexit challenges. The SBCI assesses the applications and successful applicants receive an eligibility reference number.

Successful applicants can then apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using their eligibility reference number. Participating finance providers are the Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Allied Irish Bank. Approval of loans is subject to the finance providers' own credit policies and procedures.

As at 30 August, there had been 764 applications for eligibility under the scheme.  To date, SBCI has approved 691 applications of which 127 have come from food businesses. 179 successful applications have progressed to sanction at bank level, to a total value of €39.79 million. 33 of the applications progressed to sanction at bank level have been from food businesses, to a total value of €8.61 million.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Ceisteanna (750)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

750. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the progress to date by the CCPC regarding enforcement of the grocery goods regulations and monitoring compliance; the number of investigations undertaken in response to complaints under grocery goods regulations; the number of enforcement actions made; the number of cases which concluded with fines issued; the amount and value of fines issued; and the number of collected and uncollected fines. [36831/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the statutory independent body responsible for the enforcement of the grocery goods regulations. Section 9 (5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the Commission is independent in the performance of its statutory functions. As investigation and enforcement matters are part of the day-to-day operational work of the Commission, I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, have no direct function in these matters.

Part 6, section 63 C of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 mandates the Commission to monitor the compliance of relevant grocery goods undertakings (RGGUs) with the regulations which seek to regulate certain practices in the grocery goods sector. S.I. No. 35 of 2016 entered into force on 30 April 2016. The regulations apply to relevant grocery goods undertakings with an annual worldwide turnover of greater than €50 million and they apply to written supply contracts which RGGUs have with their direct suppliers. The regulations require RGGUs to have agreed written contracts with their suppliers which include all the terms and conditions of the agreed contract, expressed in clear intelligible language and signed by both parties to the contract. The regulations specify those commercial practices which are prohibited unless the parties mutually agree them in writing in the contract. The regulations specify the ways in which RGGUs must comply with the regulations including filing their annual compliance reports and maintaining relevant documentation for examination by the CCPC for 6 years after the end of the financial year in which the grocery goods contract was signed by the parties.

Since the Regulations entered into force, the CCPC has indicated to suppliers that it is available and willing to meet with them if they have concerns about their trading relationships with RGGUs under the terms of the Regulations.

I am advised by the CCPC that to date no complaints have been received from suppliers about alleged breaches of the regulations and, consequently, the question of cases which concluded with fines issued, the amount and value of such fines or those that were collected or went uncollected does not arise.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (751)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

751. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applicants and participants in Brexit schemes and supports provided 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. [36842/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The nature of the UK's departure from the EU still remains to be determined, which means Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland, one which cannot be underestimated. That is why 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.

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 develop practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

For example, I allocated an additional €5m to the network of Local Enterprise Offices, €3m to Enterprise Ireland, €2m to IDA Ireland and €1m to InterTradeIreland to help businesses prepare for Brexit, together with funding for the longer-term Future Growth Loan Scheme and the IDA Regional Property Programme.  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.

The Local Enterprise Offices [LEOs] are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business. The LEOs have organised various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit.

In addition, 702 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. 691 LEO clients have been approved for the Technical Assistance Grant. 

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. 613 Participants have so far attended this Customs Training.

InterTrade Ireland also 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 3,300 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service.

ITI offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher and Brexit Implementation Voucher schemes, which enables 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 Brexit Start to Plan vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. 1,770 businesses have applied for a Brexit Start to Plan voucher, of which over 1,500 have been approved.  ITI 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, launched in March of 2018, 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 2 September, there have been 764 applications for eligibility under the scheme.  Of the total number of applications, 691 have been approved to date by SBCI while 179 of those applications have progressed to sanction at bank value, to a total value of €32.93 million.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €300 million of loans available with a term of 8-10 years. This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland and the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors to support strategic long-term investment.  The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, the scheme operator, opened for eligibility applications on 17th April and up to 30 August it received 1044 eligibility applications and issued 987 eligibility letters.

Enterprise Ireland has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-asses 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 6,100 business have used Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Scorecard to date and 85% of EI client firms have a plan in place, while 211 applications for the Be Prepared grant have been approved. 272 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. 

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 1,500 Customs Insights Course participants.

The Irish Government, in association with key industry partners, also launched a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU. The new initiative is called Clear Customs, and it comprises of a free customs training programme provided through Skillnet and a financial support payment from Enterprise Ireland to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning staff to customs roles in addition to necessary customs it requirements.

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. 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 total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €33.7 million when compared with 2018.

Enterprise Ireland total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €6.8 million when compared with 2018.

LEOs total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €5 million when compared with 2018.

ITI total allocation (current and capital) for 2019 increased by €1 million when compared with 2018.

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Scheme

Expenditure/Cost

Brexit Loan Scheme

The scheme will cost the Exchequer €23 million (€14 million provide by Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and €9 million provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine).

Enterprise Ireland Be Prepared Grant

€304,553 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Market Discovery Fund - A support to EI clients to research new markets

€443,786 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Agile Innovation Fund - Gives rapid fast-track access to innovation funding

€736,105 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Advisory Clinics

€265,341 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Brexit “Act On Programme” – A support funding the engagement of a consultant to devise report with recommendations to help clients address weaknesses and improve resilience

€480,000 to 16/05/2019

Enterprise Ireland Strategic Consultancy Grant – A grant to assist EI clients to hire a strategic consultant for a set period

€1,373,218 to 16/05/2019

Local Enterprise Office Technical Assistance Grant for Micro Export - an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities

2018 Expenditure

€560,275

1 Jan to 31st March 2019 Expenditure

€124,607

Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro - The LEO Lean4Micro offer was developed in collaboration between the EI Lean department and the LEOs to tailor the EI Lean offer for LEO micro enterprise clients

2018 Expenditure

€951,129

1 Jan to 31st March 2019 Expenditure

€127,121

Local Enterprise Office Mentoring

There isn’t a specific budget allocation for LEO Brexit mentoring. It is included in the LEOs overall Measure 2 allocation.

Local Enterprise Office Brexit Seminars/Events

2018 Expenditure

€128,601

1 Jan to 31st March 2019 Expenditure

€33,181

The Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed in a post-Brexit world.

2018 Expenditure

n/a

1 Jan to 31st March 2019 Expenditure

€24,600

InterTradeIreland Brexit Start to Plan Vouchers

InterTradeIreland offer two Brexit Vouchers – a planning voucher which provides 100% financial support towards professional advice to help Businesses identify Brexit exposures and to plan.

The second “implementation” voucher provides financial support up to £5,000/€5,625, which allows businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship post-Brexit. InterTradeIreland pay 50% of the cost of this voucher.

Expenditure to date in 2019: £860,000.

Pilot Online Retail Scheme administered by Enteprise Ireland

Eleven retailers were awarded funding in March 2019 as part of the new €1.25m fund, with €625,000 available under the first competitive call to support retail businesses to strengthen their online offering. There will be a second competitive call in 2019 with a fund of €625,000.

Brexit preparedness supports - uptake of available schemes

Scheme

Uptake (30 August 2019)

764 applications received, 691 approved by SBCI, 179 Loans progressed to sanction at bank level to a value of €39.797 million.

Of the approved applications to date, 145 were reapplications as eligibility expires after four months.

Brexit Loan Scheme

(Uptake as of 2 September)

1044 applications received, 987 approved by SBCI, 168 Loans progressed to sanction at bank level to a value of €27.38 million.

Future Growth Loan Scheme

(Uptake as of 2 September)

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Scorecard - online platform for Irish companies to self-assess their exposure to Brexit 

6,116 Brexit Scorecards have been completed. 1413 LEO clients have completed the scorecard.

Enterprise Ireland Be Prepared Grant

211 Be Prepared Grants have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Market Discovery Fund - A support to EI clients to research new markets

186 companies have been approved under this initiative[1]

Enterprise Ireland Prepare to Export Scorecard 

4,350 Prepare to Export Scorecards have been completed

Enterprise Ireland Customs Insights Online Course

1,565 Customs Insights Course participants

Enterprise Ireland Agile Innovation Fund - Gives rapid fast-track access to innovation funding

60 Agile Innovation projects have been approved

Enterprise Ireland Brexit Advisory Clinics

16 Brexit Advisory Clinics have been run with over 1,200 in attendance

Enterprise Ireland Brexit “Act On Programme” – A support funding the engagement of a consultant to devise report with recommendations to help clients address weaknesses and improve resilience

272 “Act on” Plans have been completed

Enterprise Ireland Strategic Consultancy Grant – A grant to assist EI clients to hire a strategic consultant for a set period

1,086 Strategic Consultancy Grants have been approved

Local Enterprise Office Technical Assistance Grant for Micro Export - an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities

691 clients were approved assistance under the Technical Assistance Grant

Local Enterprise Office LEAN for Micro - The LEO Lean4Micro offer was developed in collaboration between the EI Lean department and the LEOs to tailor the EI Lean offer for LEO micro enterprise clients

370 LEO clients have participated in the programme

Local Enterprise Office Mentoring

702 mentoring participants solely focused on Brexit

Local Enterprise Office Brexit Seminars/Events 

4,975 Participants at the Brexit Information events

Customs Training Participants

613 Participants attended Customs Training

Clear Customs Training

93 applications have been made to access financial support through the scheme

InterTradeIreland Brexit Advisory Service

3,390 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service in 2019. This is in addition to the 4,175 engagements in 2018.

InterTradeIreland Brexit Start to Plan Vouchers

There have been 1,770 applications, with 1,526 approved and 21 still pending assessment. 

Pilot Online Retail Scheme administered by Enterprise Ireland

11 retailers were awarded funding in March 2019. A second call of the Scheme opened on 19 June and closed on the 31 July 2019. Applications are currently under assessment.

[1] The Market Discovery Fund figure listed is lower than that of the end of February document figure of 251.  The updated figure refers to the number of businesses approved, while the earlier number of 251 referred to the number of projects approved. This is now how it is reported to the Board, where projects was used previously.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (752)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

752. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 414 of 11 July 2019, the number for all new hires and replacement staff over the three year period; and if she will provide the latest figures for new hires in each relevant agency and in her Department up to the end of August 2019. [36843/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

With regard to my own Department, and further to Parliamentary Question No. 414 of 11 July 2019, there have been no additional staff appointed to Brexit-related positions since July 2019. The total number of staff in my Department is currently 926.  

I have set out in the table below the number of additional staff appointed to Brexit-related positions in my Department and in the Agencies under its remit during 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019. In relation to the second part of the Deputy’s question, it is not possible to provide the numbers for all new hires over the three-year period in the time allotted. However, I have supplied the total headcount for my Department and each of the relevant agencies in the following table for further information.

  

 

 

 

 

Department/Agency   

2017   

2018   

2019   

Headcount (end Q2 2019)

Department

 5

915

NSAI

0

4

4

150

HSA

0

6

4

179

SFI

2

3

0

61

Enterprise Ireland*

27

20

7

624 

IDA Ireland

10

17

0

313

*Enterprise Ireland have 3 Brexit posts remaining to be filled.

While there are eight Agencies under the remit of my Department, the 5 listed above are the agencies in receipt of funding for additional Brexit-related posts.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Ceisteanna (753)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

753. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of prepare your business for customs initial workshops that have taken place up to 31 August 2019; the approximate number of persons and businesses that have taken part; and the customs awareness and higher-level customs clearance training and advice for third country trading in place for SMEs by county in tabular form. [36844/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In relation to customs preparations, the “Prepare your business for customs” one-day interactive workshop is run regionally by the Local Enterprise Offices. These customs workshops educate business on the potential impacts, formalities and procedures firms need to adopt when trading with a country which is outside the Single Market and Customs Union (‘Third Country’). The workshops are open to businesses from all sectors. These workshops cover areas such as export and import procedures, tariffs and how to correctly classify goods in that regard.

The Local Enterprise Office customs awareness training has been ongoing since February of this year.  To date there have been 44 workshops, with 675 participants.  Furthermore, there are 27 further events currently planned. Details of LEO customs awareness training, the numbers participating at each event, and planned events to end of year are attached.  Businesses can book their place on the up coming workshops by contacting their Local Enterprise Office at www.localenterprise.ie/Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland also run an online Customs Insights course which helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to move goods from, to and through the UK. The course provides learners with a firm understanding of the customs implications for their business and the options from Revenue to make this process more efficient.  As of 30 August 2019, there were 1,565 participants on the Customs Insights Course.

In addition, my Department and the Department of Education and Skills, through a joint initiative by Skillnet and EI launched a new €5m customs recruitment and training initiative, Clear Customs. This initiative will boost the number of specialists by 500 in customs agents and businesses. The initiative offers a free customs training programme provided through Skillnet and a financial support payment from Enterprise Ireland to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning staff to customs roles in addition to necessary Customs IT requirements.

The following table refers to the LEO customs workshops that have taken place up to the 31st August 2019.

Local Enterprise Office

Trainer

Date

No of Participants

1

Cavan

BDO

25-Feb-19

25

2

Cork

BDO

08-Mar-19

14

3

Dublin

BDO

13-Mar-19

22

4

Portlaoise

BDO

21-Mar-19

12

5

Donegal

BDO

27-Mar-19

32

6

Meath

Export Edge

09-Apr-19

26

7

Donegal

BDO

16-Apr-19

16

8

Monaghan

BDO

23-Apr-19

18

9

South Dublin

BDO

24-Apr-19

10

10

DLR

Export Edge

25-Apr-19

8

11

Westmeath

Export Edge

29-Apr-19

14

12

Cork City

Export Edge

01-May-19

8

13

Donegal

BDO

01-May-19

12

14

Kilkenny

BDO

02-May-19

Postponed to June 21st

15

Wexford

Export Edge

03-May-19

14

16

Westmeath

BDO

07-May-19

12

17

Offaly

Export Edge

09-May-19

9

18

Mayo & Roscommon

Export Edge

10-May-19

13

19

Wicklow

BDO

13-May-19

22

20

Limerick & Clare

BDO

14-May-19

12

21

Longford

Export Edge

16-May-19

11

22

Kildare

Export Edge

17-May-19

13

23

Meath

BDO

20-May-19

4

24

Fingal

KGH

21-May-19

18

25

Leitrim

Export Edge

21-May-19

15

26

Carlow

BDO

22-May-19

11

27

Dublin City

Export Edge

22-May-19

4

28

Kerry

BDO

23-May-19

19

29

Sligo

BDO

24-May-19

6

30

Fingal

Export Edge

30-May-19

17

31

Mayo

KGH

30-May-19

13

32

Carlow

Export Edge

06-Jun-19

Postponed

33

Galway

Export Edge

11-Jun-19

16

34

Louth

BDO

12-Jun-19

17

35

Meath

BDO

18-Jun-19

23

36

Monaghan

Export Edge

18-Jun-19

24

37

Kilkenny

BDO

21-Jun-19

14

38

Wicklow

BDO

26-Jun-19

17

39

Cavan

BDO

16-Jul-19

24

40

Meath

BDO

17-Jul-19

13

41

Monaghan

KGH

23-Jul-19

35

42

Cavan

BDO

15-Aug-19

22

43

Meath

BDO

20-Aug-19

22

44

Longford

BDO

20-Aug-19

18

45

Louth

Export Edge

03-Sep-19

46

Monaghan

KGH

03-Sep-19

47

Westmeath

KGH

04-Sep-19

48

Kildare

Export Edge

05-Sep-19

49

Fingal

06-Sep-19

50

Cavan

BDO

09-Sep-19

51

Sligo

KGH

10-Sep-19

52

Wicklow

11-Sep-19

53

Waterford

Export Edge

13-Sep-19

54

Waterford

Export Edge

13-Sep-19

55

Mayo

BDO

20-Sep-19

56

Carlow

Export Edge

23-Sep-19

57

Donegal

Export Edge

25-Sep-19

58

Longford

BDO

26-Sep-19

59

DLR

Export Edge

30-Sep-19

60

Cork City

BDO

04-Oct-19

61

Fingal

Export Edge

04-Oct-19

62

Leitrim

Export Edge

08-Oct-19

63

Tipperary

KGH

08-Oct-19

64

Louth

KGH

09-Oct-19

65

Wicklow

09-Oct-19

66

Mayo

BDO

10-Oct-19

67

Fingal

Export Edge

11-Oct-19

68

Cork North & West

Export Edge

25-Oct-19

69

Cork North & West

Export Edge

30-Oct-19

70

Cork North & West

Export Edge

06-Nov-19

71

Cork North & West

Export Edge

11-Nov-19

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

Ceisteanna (754)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

754. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will provide data (details supplied) in relation to each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [36847/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The total number of claims received by the Personal Injury Assessment Board (PIAB) and awards made, where consent to assessment has been given, are set out in Table 1.

The number of awards made, where consent to assessment has been given, by category is set out in Table 2.

Table 1: PIAB Claims received and Awards made 2011 to 2018

Year

Total claims received

Total number of awards made*

Accepted awards

Rejected awards

2019 (Jan-Mar)

8483**

2910

1021

1013 (876 cases pending)

2018

33371

12112

6206

5906

2017

33114

12663

6788

5875

2016

34056

12966

7071

5895

2015

33561

11734

6716

5018

2014

31576

12420

7519

4901

2013

31311

10656

6476

4180

2012

29603

10136

6124

4012

2011

27669

9833

5875

3958

* Where consent to assessment was given

** figures subject to some revision due to retrospective keying

Table 2: PIAB Awards by Category

Year

Total number of awards made

Motor

Public Liability

Employer Liability

2019 (Jan-Mar)

2910

Not available

Not available

Not available

2018

12112

8529

2188

1395

2017

12663

9142

2305

1216

2016

12966

9564

2244

1158

2015

11734

8815

1995

924

2014

12420

9328

2151

941

2013

10656

8062

1768

826

2012

10136

7622

1707

807

2011

9833

7521

1482

830

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

Ceisteanna (755)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

755. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the 2018 PIAB annual report; if she is considering taking actions arising from the report; and if so, the details of same. [36848/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Section 83 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 provides that the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) shall submit an annual report of its activities to the Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation, and that the Minister shall ensure that this report is laid before each House of the Oireachtas. PIAB’s Annual Report for 2018 was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 15 July 2019 and outlines the activities of PIAB during the course of the year.

The PIAB Annual Report 2018 shows that PIAB continues to deliver on its mission of processing personal injury claims for public place, workplace and motor accidents in a fair, efficient and transparent manner.

In 2018, a total of 33,371 claims were received by PIAB.  The Board made 12,112 awards to the value of €298.55 million, of which 6,206 awards to the value of €153.6 million were accepted.

During 2018, PIAB actively participated in two Government led initiatives, namely the Cost of Insurance Working Group chaired by Minister of State D’Arcy and the Personal Injuries Commission chaired by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

Consumer Protection

Ceisteanna (756)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

756. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the consumer regulations in place to enable consumers to leave a service provider contract for a mobile phone or utility provider over the phone as opposed to in writing. [36849/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

None of the consumer protection enactments for which my Department has responsibility regulate the switching of mobile phone or utility providers by consumers. I understand that the Commission for Communications Regulations has established rules and procedures for the switching of mobile phone, home phone and internet providers. I understand also that the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities provides advice to consumers on switching energy providers.  Questions about the procedures for switching mobile phone or utility providers should be addressed accordingly to my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

Company Law

Ceisteanna (757)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

757. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the areas flagged in a summary by an organisation (details supplied) of the potential impact of Brexit for company law here; and if she is considering further regulatory changes in this field to safeguard small businesses trading with the UK. [36851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In March 2019, the Oireachtas passed the omnibus Act (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019) containing the legislative changes consequential to the UK withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

I currently have no plans for regulatory changes in the area of company law arising from the UK withdrawal from the EU.

Work Permits Applications Data

Ceisteanna (758)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

758. 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 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. [36852/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The statistics requested by the Deputy are set out in the followng table.

2019

Applications Received

Total Decisions

Total Number of applications in processing queue at end of each month not fully processed.

End of Jan

1,172

1,738

2,183 (includes 398 applications at various stages of processing)

End of Feb

1,358

1,399

2,167 (includes 441 applications at various stages of processing)

End of Mar

1,213

1,437

1,928 (includes 419 applications at various stages of processing)

End of Apr

1,575

1,272

2,264 (includes 458 applications at various stages of processing)

End of May

2,047

1,539

2,666 (includes 542 applications at various stages of processing)

End of Jun

1,741

1,755

2,754 (includes 669 applications at various stages of processing)

End of Jul

1,680

1,839

2,591 (includes 541 applications at various stages of processing)

End of Aug

1,485

1,709

2,343 (includes 540 applications at various stages of processing)

Departmental Policy Functions

Ceisteanna (759)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

759. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the policy with respect to remote working; the remote working office hubs that are under the remit of her Department or a State agency under her remit that has such office hubs by county; and if all empty office space and State lands under the jurisdiction of State agencies under the remit of her Department that could facilitate remote office working for local starts-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs have been analysed. [36853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

DBEI is currently leading on a new piece of research on remote working under Future Jobs Ireland 2019. To deliver on ambition 4.2(i) of this strategy the research will examine 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 from partaking in these arrangements.

To guide this work, an Interdepartmental Steering Group has been formed with representatives from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Justice and Equality, and the Department of An Taoiseach. The research will include desk research, identification of key data sources and one-on-one consultation with key stakeholders. To further inform this research a Remote Working Consultation Forum was held on July 18th, 2019 in Cavan Digital Hub.

The end result of this project will be a cohesive research paper on the prevalence of remote work in Ireland that fulfils the deliverable as stated above. This will be completed in Q4 2019 and will be published shortly thereafter. When completed, this work will be considered in the context of the Department’s own remote working arrangements.

My own Department including its Offices has 5 staff engaged in formal remote working arrangements at work patterns of between 1 and 4 days per week. In addition, my Department’s ICT Unit provides remote working ICT facilities to any staff whose role requires them to work away from their office on a regular basis. Currently, 230 staff in the Department and its Offices are assigned laptops or tablets for use whenever they require to work away from the office. In addition, a pool of loan laptops or tablets is available to other staff to work remotely where business needs allow.

My Department's Agencies' remote working arrangements are outlined below.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland has an e-working policy that supports and encourages remote working (e-working) among its employees. Applications are invited from staff once a year and arrangements are put in place to facilitate e-working, typically one day per week for a 12 month period.

Enterprise Ireland supports companies throughout the country to start, scale and succeed in international markets. As part of this, Enterprise Ireland has supported the establishment of enterprise centres that can support remote working throughout the country. Competitive funding to support this has been awarded under the following schemes:

Community Enterprise Centres: Enterprise Ireland has co-funded, with local enterprise development groups, 157 Community Enterprise Centres across the country totaling €64 million. There is now a Community Enterprise Centre located in every county. The agency has also provided €2m, via competitive competition, to support the role of a 46 Business Development Function/Manager in Community Enterprise Centres. These centers collectively employ approximately 6,000 people across 1,200 companies and are key hubs of enterprise activity in many areas. Many of this centres provide remote working facilities.

Regional Enterprise Development Fund: Enterprise Ireland has approved €60 million to 42 projects throughout the country to support enterprise. Of this, approximately 20 projects will provide remote working facilities.

Enterprise Ireland’s regional plan ‘Powering the Regions’ is seeking to support the growth of remote working throughout the country. As part of this, Enterprise Ireland will launch a new work smart challenge to support 10,000 co-working and incubation spaces in regional locations throughout the country.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has no formal policy with respect to remote working for employees. The CCPC do not have remote working office hubs or empty office space/land that could facilitate remote office working for local starts-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Health and Safety Authority (HSA)

The HSA has in place a Voluntary Remote Access (VRA) scheme which allows, on an agreed basis, a HSA staff member to carry out administrative functions from their home or other location using their HSA issued laptop. Administrative staff can work a maximum of 2 days/20% of the week out of the office if approved by their line manager. The HSA’s field inspectors spend up to 90% of their time out of the office remote working or inspecting workplaces. Most of their administrative and data entry work is carried out from home with attendance in the office usually only required once a week. The HSA does not have any office space that could be used to facilitate remote office working for local start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA)

All IAASA staff are provided with laptop devices which can facilitate remote working. Audit Inspection staff spend the majority of their time in PIE audit firms. All other staff are primarily office-based.  IAASA allows flexibility to work remotely but does not require remote working. IAASA does not own any property.  It currently sub-lets its premises from OPW.  Furthermore it does not control any vacant buildings or lands.

IDA Ireland

IDA Ireland’s formal home working policy came into effect from 1st September 2019 to allow staff to apply to work from home, up to one day per week, subject to business requirements and management approval, and the approval of the Staff Resources Committee. Each application is considered on a case by case basis and reviewed on an ongoing basis vis a vis business delivery.  Each application is approved for a period of one year, following which the staff member must re-apply for a further year. At this point in time, and given the early date in September, IDA Ireland’s HR Department has not received any formal applications for home working but expects to do so in the coming weeks, prior to their consideration at the next meeting of the Staff Resources Committee at the end of the month.

National Standards Authority of Ireland

In NSAI e-working is an approved arrangement by which employees work part of the week at home using approved internet and telecoms. E-working is limited to a maximum of 2 days per week and must be combined with core office-based hours/days each week. The number of people in NSAI currently availing of a formal e-working arrangement is 22. NSAI do not have a space/hub for working for use by local starts-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Personal injuries Assessment Board

PIAB do not offer remote working to their staff. PIAB  is not a dedicated office hub for remote workers and PIAB would not be in a position to facilitate a space/hub for working for local starts-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)

SFI currently offers remote working where, subject to certain conditions, employees may work from home for up to 2 days per month. 9 employees are currently availing of the working from home option. SFI does not have remote working hubs in Ireland. All SFI staff in Ireland are based at the organisation Headquarters at Wilton Park House. SFI has one international officer based at IDA offices in Mountain View California. SFI has no vacant office premises and have no state lands under their jurisdiction.

Ministerial Appointments

Ceisteanna (760)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

760. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the selection process for the recent three ministerial appointments made to the National Competitiveness Council; the number of applications received to be members of the board; and the number of members that represent small business. [36855/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

On 10 May, a call for Expressions of Interest for members to fill a number of vacancies on the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) was advertised on the State Boards website by the Public Appointments Commission (and on my Department's and the NCC websites).

The following criteria were listed as desirable in the call for Expressions of Interest Booklet:

- Demonstrated understanding of the factors that affect the competitiveness of the Irish economy and the policies that can influence productivity levels in the economy

- Experience of effective leadership at a senior level in an applicant’s area of expertise

- Demonstrated understanding of the policy development process

- Critical thinking skills with a proven ability to grasp the detail of a wide range of issues

- Experience of participation on similar committees or groups.

By the closing date on 7 June, 18 applications were received from candidates with diverse backgrounds and with wide-ranging experience.

A selection panel made up by the outgoing Chair of the NCC, a senior official from my Department, and an independent representative was formed. This panel submitted a shortlist from which to appoint new Council members to me. From this shortlist, I appointed three highly qualified people to the Council on 26 June 2019.

Consistent with the Council’s Terms of Refences, representatives from two employer bodies, IBEC and Chambers Ireland, currently serve on the Council. These bodies represent the views of all business (including SMEs and small business).

Employment Rights

Ceisteanna (761)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

761. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the plans being developed by her officials as per a news article (details supplied) regarding the rules on the right to disconnect from work and to encompass a more flexible working approach and work life balance. [36857/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and I understand the importance of promoting a good work-life balance for employees. This is addressed under Pillar 4 of our Future Jobs Ireland strategy. Pillar 4 is focussed on increasing participation in the labour force as this will lead to the more equitable, balanced and sustainable development of Ireland’s workforce.

Pillar 4 of Future Jobs Ireland outlines a number of key ambitions and deliverables to help to increase participation in the labour force. A number of these ambitions are centred on flexible working solutions which offer benefits for employers, employees and wider society in general. Flexible working encompasses a wide range of practices including part-time, compressed hours, job sharing, home-working and remote working. Such solutions allow for tangible benefits for employees including improving their work life balance. It also provides solutions for those who would otherwise take unpaid parental leave but cannot afford to do so.

There are a number of key deliverables under Pillar 4 with the objective of fostering participation in the labour force through flexible working solutions. These include deliverables such as holding a national consultation on flexible working options, the development of guidance for employers on family-friendly working options, and the extension of unpaid Parental Leave.

A further deliverable under this Pillar is the completion of research on remote working. My Department is currently leading on this research which focusses on understanding the prevalence and types of remote working arrangements within the Irish workforce and the attitudes towards such arrangements. The research will also identify the influencing factors for both employers and employees partaking in remote working.

This research will include the identification of key data sources, desk research and one-on-one consultation with key stakeholders. A key input to the study will be the results arising from a Remote Working Consultation Forum which was held on July 18th to gain insights for the research. The research will also include an international policy review which will consider related policies abroad, such as the ‘right to disconnect’ in France, in order to understand the impacts of this on remote working. The research is expected to be completed in the final quarter of this year and will outline the relevant policy implications of remote working for Ireland.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Reports

Ceisteanna (762)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

762. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of her request to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to undertake a study of the public liability insurance market; and the reason this decision was taken now. [36858/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In August I requested that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) undertake a study into how the public liability insurance market operates, and, in particular how competition works in the market and whether any practice or method of competition affects the pricing levels within that market. This request was made under with Section 10 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014.

I requested the CCPC to undertake this study as I have concerns about the increased cost of public liability insurance on business, which has the potential to pose a systemic threat to the very existence of many businesses.

Should the Deputy have any information on anti-competitive practices occurring in the sector, I would suggest that he contact the CCPC directly – publicliability@ccpc.ie.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (763)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

763. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on a recent InterTradeIreland report (details supplied) which found that just 6% of traders were prepared for cashflow and liquidity issues in the event of a no-deal Brexit and only 6% have examined the possible legal implications on business contracts if the UK leaves the EU on 31 October 2019 without a deal; and the measures being deployed for cross-Border businesses to increase contingency planning for a hard Brexit by the 31 October 2019 deadline. [36860/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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, one which cannot be underestimated. Notwithstanding the ongoing uncertainty, however, there are several areas in which businesses can take immediate action to prepare.

Since 2016, my Department and its agencies have been working to prepare Irish businesses for the potential challenges posed by Brexit by helping them to assess their preparedness and to implement practical action plans in areas such as customs, supply chain and sourcing, and financial management. We cannot yet know the form that Brexit will take, but 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.

The Government’s suite of Brexit supports includes preparedness vouchers, consultancy and mentoring supports, tariff advisory services, research on new markets and innovation supports through Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and InterTrade Ireland. Supports and advice are also available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Revenue, Skillnet Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Bord Bia and Failte Ireland.

The most immediate consequences of a hard Brexit are likely to be currency movements, supply chain constraints, delays, duties and tariffs. In the first instance, there will be a strain on the working capital position of businesses.

Of the Government’s suite of supports, the €300m Brexit Loan Scheme is designed to address working capital challenges brought about by Brexit. Under the Scheme, loans of up to €1.5 million are available at a rate of 4% or less, with loans of up to €500,000 available on an unsecured basis. Similarly, the €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme is designed to support strategic long-term investment in SMEs in a post-Brexit environment.

InterTradeIreland also 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 offers Brexit Planning Voucher 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 EU. 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. 1,613 businesses have applied for a Brexit Start to Plan voucher, of which 1,405 have been approved. The 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.

In August, ITI launched a new advertising campaign and a new online resource to encourage and assist firms in preparing for Brexit. The web-based “Bitesize Brexit” resource is a one-stop-shop for cross-border traders, presenting information in easily digestible segments and including specific actions businesses should take in preparing for Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland also recently revealed 12 ‘Brexit Essential’ questions aimed at helping exporting businesses further prepare and take action ahead of the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU.  The Brexit Essentials campaign highlights the key questions and documentation that businesses need to address in order to trade successfully with the UK post 31 October.

The Irish Government, in association with key industry partners, also launched a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU. The new initiative called Clear Customs comprises of a training programme and a customs financial support to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to customs roles.

In addition, the Government has held over 100 Brexit information seminars and events since last September. I also have been convening regular roundtable discussions with the main retail grocery and distribution players since December to better understand contingency planning within the sector on food supply. Revenue, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Dublin Port and relevant Government Departments also attend these meetings. Furthermore, my Department has engaged with enterprises through the Brexit Consultation Forum and continues to host a series of Brexit information meetings in the Border Region in collaboration with the Accountancy Bodies of Ireland.

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. With around 8 weeks to go to Brexit, I urge businesses to accelerate their preparations and avail of the wide range of State supports on offer.  By taking the necessary practical steps, businesses will be better placed to address the challenges they may face and in doing so, they can help future proof their businesses and continue to trade with the UK and other EU Member States.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (764)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

764. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the statement by the head of an organisation (details supplied) that supermarket shelves here could start to run bare within two days of a hard Brexit; and the supports and resources being provided by her Department and agencies under her remit for haulage firms to take immediate steps to improve supply chains. [36861/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Brexit of any kind means change, and we have to be as well prepared as possible for this unprecedented challenge. While Government can assist in supporting businesses in the face of a hard Brexit, businesses must, of course, also prepare themselves despite what I know to be very difficult circumstances.

As part of the whole of Government response to Brexit, I and my Department officials are working to support the grocery retail and distribution sector in its efforts to prepare for Brexit. Indeed, my Department has had ongoing engagement with the retail sector in relation to Brexit since 2016, principally through the Retail Consultation Forum (RCF) which I chair.

Membership of the RCF includes retail associations such as Retail Ireland, Retail Excellence, CSNA, RGDATA, other bodies such as ISME, SFA and Chambers Ireland, a number of retailers, the City and County Managers Association (CCMA), and a number of relevant Government Departments.

Also, I have convened a number of roundtable discussions with the main Retail Grocery and Distribution players to better understand the contingency planning that is ongoing within that sector to provide for continued food supplies. [13 December 2018, 24 January 2019, 19 February 2019, 26 March 2019, 11th July 2019]. The February meeting adopted an interactive workshop format and attendees included representatives from the haulage sector. For these discussions with the industry players, I have also included the relevant State authorities: Revenue; Department of Agriculture and the Marine; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Food Safety Authority of Ireland; and Dublin Port.

There has been very constructive engagement through these meetings, and we will continue to work together to ensure that the processes being put in place operate as efficiently as possible to minimise the disruption for businesses, supply chains, and the consumer. Through the dialogue we are facilitating with the Retail Consultation Forum and other roundtables, retailers and distributors have given assurances that they are intensively making preparations for Brexit.

For example, they are examining their own supply chains and seeing what adjustments need to be made, they are availing of advice and information from the various State authorities that they will need to engage with and they are engaging with their suppliers down the line.

More broadly, my Department and its agencies have been working to prepare Irish businesses, including retailer and haulier businesses, for the potential challenges posed by Brexit by helping them to assess their preparedness and helping them to implement practical action plans in areas such as customs, supply chain and sourcing, and financial management. 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 develop practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Government’s suite of Brexit supports include preparedness vouchers, consultancy and mentoring supports, tariff advisory services, research on new markets and innovation supports through Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and InterTrade Ireland. Supports and advice are also available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Revenue, Skillnet Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Bord Bia and Failte Ireland.

The most immediate consequences of a hard Brexit are likely to be currency movements, supply chain constraints, delays, duties and tariffs. In the first instance, there will be a strain on the working capital position of businesses.

Of the Government’s suite of supports, the €300m Brexit Loan Scheme is designed to address working capital challenges brought about by Brexit. Under the Scheme, loans of up to €1.5 million are available at a rate of 4% or less, with loans of up to €500,000 available on an unsecured basis. Similarly, the €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme is designed to support strategic long-term investment in SMEs in a post-Brexit environment.

InterTrade Ireland also 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 offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher and Brexit Implementation Voucher schemes, which enables 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 Brexit Start to Plan vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. 1,613 businesses have applied for a Brexit Start to Plan voucher, of which 1,405 have been approved. ITI 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.

In August, ITI launched a new advertising campaign and a new online resource to encourage and assist firms in preparing for Brexit. The online “Bitesize Brexit” resource is a one-stop-shop for cross-border traders, presenting information in easily digestible segments and includes specific actions businesses should take in preparing for Brexit.

The Irish Government, in association with key industry partners, also launched a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU. The new initiative called Clear Customs comprises of a training programme and a customs financial support to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to customs roles.

In addition, the Government has held over 100 Brexit information seminars and events since last September. Furthermore, my Department has engaged with enterprises through the Brexit Consultation Forum and continues to host a series of Brexit information meetings in the Border Region in collaboration with the Accountancy Bodies of Ireland.

We are confident that we are as ready as we can be, but it is important that businesses do what they need to do to be ready. As Chair of the Retail Consultation Forum I will continue to engage with the retail grocery and distribution sector on preparatory actions.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (765)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

765. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of full and part-time staff in the dedicated Brexit unit within her Department by staff grade in tabular form. [36866/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The number of staff in the dedicated Brexit Unit of my Department is provided below in Tabular form.

Staff Assigned to Brexit Unit as at 4 September 2019.

Grade

Staff No’s

Principal Officer

1

Assistant Principal Officer

3

Higher Executive Officer

2

Clerical Officer

1

Total

7

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (766)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

766. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the work being carried out by the expert group on future skills needs including published reports on skills and labour shortages in the economy. [36867/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) advises Government on projected skills requirements in the economy and makes recommendations on how existing education and training systems and delivery mechanisms can be improved.  The Group also advises on any skills requirements that cannot be met from within the Irish economy and so must be met through inward migration.  Ensuring that the relevant authorities progress implementation plans is also central to the Group’s work.

The EGFSN is an independent non-statutory body with membership from Government Departments (Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Department of Education & Skills); Enterprise Development Agencies (Enterprise Ireland, Industrial Development Authority), Business, Unions, Further Education and Training (SOLAS), and the Higher Education Authority.  The secretariat is based in the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, which provides the EGFSN with research and analysis support; the work is funded by the National Training Fund.

The Group undertakes a combination of both sectoral and thematic research studies.  These are overseen by Steering Groups made up of stakeholders from enterprise and the education and training sectors.  The Group also draws on the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU), based in Solas, for statistical analysis.

In 2018, the EGFSN published five reports: an Audit of Hospitality Courses in Further and Higher Education; a report on Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit; a report of the Hospitality Skills Oversight Group; a report on Digital Transformation: Assessing the Impact of Digitalisation on Ireland’s Workforce; and the EGFSN Annual Activity Statement for 2017.

So far in 2019, the Group has published a High-Level ICT Demand Forecast for the period 2017-2022 – which underpinned Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan, published by the Department of Education and Skills – and the EGFSN Annual Activity Statement for 2018.  The reports are available online at www.skillsireland.ie.

Currently, the EGFSN secretariat is working on skills studies relating to the Construction Industry, SME Management Practices, and a follow-on study into enterprise demand for Design Skills.  Additionally, the Group continues to monitor implementation of actions under, in particular, Technology Skills 2022, the Brexit Skills report, and the Winning by Design study (published in 2017).

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (767)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

767. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the studies or reports being carried out by her Department or commissioned by her regarding Brexit; the organisation commissioned for each such report; and the cost and publication date in tabular form. [36868/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Government’s recently updated contingency planning continues to be firmly grounded in the extensive work and outreach that has already been undertaken by individual Departments and agencies, as well as by stakeholder organisations, academics and others. 

My Department has conducted a number of research projects to build an understanding of the possible implications of Brexit on Ireland for enterprise and our trading relations. These studies provide an evidence base to inform Ireland’s policy positions as part of the wider negotiation on the UK’s future relationship with the EU and have further inform our domestic policy response to Brexit. The details of the Brexit related research undertaken by my Department is as follows:

Title

Summary

Cost

Research by

Publication Date

B & A Survey – Brexit the Views of Irish SMEs

DBEI has commissioned Behaviour and Attitudes (B&A) to conduct a series of surveys on Irish SMEs and Brexit. The surveys were conducted between January 2017, and March 2019.  The surveys examined the overall impact Brexit is having and could have on Irish SMEs. B & A is scheduled to conduct another survey in September 2019.

Expenditure to date:

 

2017 €97,017.50

2018 €30,742.85

2019 €49,556.70

 

 

Total of €177,318.05

 

(All figures are inclusive of VAT)

Behaviour and Attitudes Ltd.

22 January 2018

 

 

14 September 2018

Intermediate Goods Inputs & the UK Content of Irish Goods Export Study

This report examined the reliance of Irish imports on the UK and identified the extent of exposure to potential disruptions post-Brexit.

€30,000 (inclusive of VAT)

Economic and Social research Institute

6 July 2018

Irish-UK Services Trade and Brexit Study

This report estimated the contribution of EU membership to services trade flows and examined the exposure of Irish services sectors to potential disruptions post-Brexit.

€10,000 (inclusive of VAT)

Economic and Social research Institute

6 July 2018

Firm Level Impact of Brexit on Most Exposed Sectors

This research examines the firm level implications of the UK being outside of the European Single Market and Customs Union for Ireland’s most exposed enterprise sectors.

€69,000 (excluding VAT)

DBEI and Deloitte

13 June 2018

Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Implications of Brexit (EGFSN)

This study examines the skills challenges arising from Brexit’s potential trade implications, and how they might best be addressed.

€55,510 (excluding VAT)

AECOM

14 June 2018

Ireland and the Impacts of Brexit: Strategic Implications for Ireland arising from changing EU-UK Trading patterns.

Profile trade and investment to highlight dependence at sectoral level; Quantify impact of various scenarios on trade and investment; Develop policy options for Ireland – negotiations and enterprise (mitigation) policies.

€174,000

(excluding VAT)

Copenhagen Economics

13 February 2018

In addition, InterTrade Ireland – a Cross-Border Body that receives funding from my Department - has published reports on Cross-Border Trade and Supply Chain Linkages; Export Participation and Performance of Firms on the Island of Ireland; Shock Absorption Capacity of Firms in Ireland and Northern Ireland; and Potential Impact of WTO Tariffs on Cross-Border Trade. Also, InterTrade Ireland is due to publish a report on the Analysis of the UK “No Deal” Tariff Schedule in the Context of Cross-Border Trade soon.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission – which is under the remit of my Department - has just published a new survey related to Brexit and Online Shopping with the UK. It had previously published a report (2018) on the Potential Impact of Brexit on Consumer Prices.