Longford/Westmeath Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Robert Troy TD, has said the latest Brexit business support figures released to him are very worrying and should be a cause of great concern for the Government.
Deputy Troy said that despite Government Ministers continuously referencing the Brexit loan funds as the panacea to any questions posed on business support preparedness, the actual uptake figures are more sobering.
“Up until the end of August 2019, just 11 percent of the combined €600m Brexit loans funds have been sanctioned for bank lending. This leaves an alarming €533m in unused Brexit loan funds.
“At the same time, Revenue previously identified around 90,000 Irish businesses who traded with the UK in 2018. Yet, mere weeks out from the October 31 deadline, less than one percent of these businesses, 675 if them, have participated in the Brexit preparedness one-day customs workshops, run in all counties by Local Enterprise Offices.
“Open to businesses of all sizes, these customs workshops educate businesses on the potential impacts and actions they will need to take when trading with a third country outside the EU. We’ve listened as countless Government Ministers have hailed them as the messiah to SMEs.
“My party has consistently called on the Government to outline all the contingencies and supports that will be available for businesses to cater for all scenarios including a hard Brexit.
“While loans may be helpful the money still has to be repaid. Direct grant aid is an urgent necessity. Fianna Fáil have consistently called for an enterprise stabilisation fund and employment support scheme to be operationalised and made available to the worst affected firms, as a policy response from the impact of a hard Brexit.
“Minister Humphreys, as the senior Government Minister responsible for enterprise policy, must immediately seek approval at EU level for state aid rule changes to safeguard vulnerable Irish businesses trading with the UK”, Deputy Troy emphasised.