Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (155)

Neale Richmond


155. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures that have been taken to ensure SMEs are prepared for Brexit no matter the form it may take at the end of the transition period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26406/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

My Department and its agencies have worked to put a wide range of Brexit supports in place for businesses. The suite of enterprise and finance supports in place cover the spectrum of potential Brexit impacts and aims to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken.

On 9th September last, the Government published our Brexit Readiness Action Plan. The Action Plan is a call to action setting out a broad range of changes that will occur in less than four months’ time, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing EU-UK negotiations. It provides clear and concise advice on steps that need to be taken now by businesses and individuals in order to prepare for the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020. As of 1 January 2021, the UK will be outside the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. This will have significant implications for every business who moves goods to, from, or through Great Britain.

All Government Departments and agencies and regulatory bodies are preparing for the end of the transition period. It is important that we use the most appropriate mix of timely, practical assistance to companies trading with, or through the Great Britain, when Brexit becomes a reality on the 1st January next.

That is why we announced a number of new measures to help businesses to get ready for the introduction of new customs arrangements from 1 January 2021, in addition to supports in place already to help with COVID-19 and Brexit.

These include a new €20 million ‘Ready for Customs’ support scheme which is part of the Government’s €5 billion July Stimulus package. Enterprise Ireland are rolling out this new ‘Ready for Customs’ scheme to help businesses recruit and build staff expertise in customs declarations and provide for related investment in relevant ICT. This financial incentive of up to €9,000 will help businesses meet the challenge that will become very real on 1st January next.

My Department is also work with Skillnet Ireland which has launched a free online customs training programme, Clear Customs, to support the customs intermediary sector and businesses that moves goods frequently to, from, or through Great Britain.

The range of measures in place to assist businesses include Brexit checklists and advisory tools, direct grants and funding supports:

- Enterprise Ireland are running an on-line Customs Insights course and EI will also launch a new Brexit Readiness Checker. The tool will produce a report assessing a company’s readiness for Brexit;

- the Local Enterprise Offices are running a second phase of their one-to-one successful Brexit mentoring and training “Prepare Your Business for Customs” workshops, which commenced last week and will continue to offer their grants to business responding to Brexit challenges including the Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters (TAME) grant of €2,500 and LEAN for Micro grants to assist productivity improvements;

- the new €2 billion Credit Guarantee Scheme, which we launched last week, is the largest guarantee scheme that has ever been provided for Irish businesses to date to ensure there is financing available for Irish businesses as they reboot and rebuild both through Covid-19 and Brexit;

- we have also provided further funding to MFI to ensure it can meet the needs of microenterprises that can not avail of bank funding over the coming period;

- businesses also need longer term funding for investment purposes, and we have expanded the SBCI Future Growth Loan Scheme up to €800m in lending; and,

- we will consider what further measures are needed in the context of Budget 2021 as the shape of the final deal with the UK becomes clear.

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 Fáilte Ireland. Full details on all Brexit supports are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/EU-Internal-Market/Brexit/Getting-Brexit-Ready/.