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For Written Answer on : 18/01/2024
Question Number(s): 174 Question Reference(s): 2132/24
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
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QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the current supports for small business available from his Department or from agencies under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


This Government and my Department are fully committed in advancing the interests of SMEs in Ireland. The White Paper on Enterprise sets out an ambitious vision for Ireland’s enterprise policy, to protect Ireland’s strong economic position, and respond to challenges and opportunities that have emerged because of the pandemic, wider economic and geo-political developments, digitalisation, and an increased urgency to decarbonise industry. More recently, there were a number of initiatives introduced in Budget 2024 that will help support businesses in the challenges they face. 

Enterprise Ireland supports Irish SMEs in the development of global markets through a comprehensive range of supports. The support offered by EI vary from direct financial assistance through grants, loans, and equity investments, to Market Research and export development assistance, from funding and mentoring for Innovation and Research through to international Trade missions and Market Access opportunities.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the ‘first-stop-shop’ providing a signposting service for all Government supports available to SMEs and can provide information/referrals to other relevant bodies under agreed protocols e.g. Revenue, Micro Finance Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, LEADER, and Enterprise Ireland.

The LEOs can provide financial assistance to small businesses operating within the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. LEOs grant assistance is available the within four main categories, following the LEO Lifecycle of Pre-Start, Start, Grow and Exporting: Feasibility Grants, Priming Grants, Business Expansions Grants, Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters (TAME).

The LEOs also offer a wide range of high-quality business and management development programmes that are tailored to meet specific business requirements. Whether it is a new start up or growing an existing business there are programmes that are suitable for small

LEOs can also assist businesses owners with applications to Micro-finance Ireland (MFI), which is a not-for-profit lender that offers 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 and by applying through their LEO, clients can avail of a 1% reduction in the interest rate charged.

Along with financial, training and mentoring supports the LEOs also run a range of initiatives across the year to increase awareness of their supports and to foster entrepreneurship nationwide.  These include Local Enterprise Week, The National Enterprise Awards, National Women’s Enterprise Day, The Student Enterprise Programme, Local Enterprise Showcase @ Showcase in the RDS, The Local Enterprise Village @ the Ploughing Championships.

My Department has secured  €250m for the Increased Cost of Business Scheme in Budget 2024 which will will be available to SMEs who pay commercial rates to their Local Authorities, and will provide targeted refunds to around 130,000 micro and small businesses, accounting for 87% of rated businesses.

Other measures such as the new targeted Angel Investment Scheme will introduce a reduced Capital Gains Tax Rate to 16%, promoting innovation for angel investors investing in ‘innovative’ SMEs.  The increase in the Research and Development tax credit to 30% and the increase in the payment threshold to €50,000, aiming to encourage investment in R&D by both large and small companies.

Finally, the new National Enterprise Hub which will include a dedicated website and phone line to Hub Advisors, developed by Enterprise Ireland, this will help businesses to navigate the comprehensive suite of supports that are being offered to business throughout Ireland. Work is currently underway on the development of this Hub.