Only one in six ‘highly exposed’ firms get Brexit strategy grant
Enterprise Ireland will match half the cost of drawing up a Brexit plan, up to €5,000
Lisa Chambers, Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokeswoman, blamed the low uptake on bureaucracy and a lack of advertising.
Just one in six homegrown companies “highly exposed” to Brexit have been given specially set-up grants to help them prepare a strategy.
Enterprise Ireland, the State agency for promoting Irish businesses, says only 106 of the 5,000 companies it supports have been approved for the Be Prepared scheme.
Lack of advertising
One Opposition frontbencher blamed the low uptake on bureaucracy and a lack of advertising.
The grant was launched last June, with the promise of up to €5,000 to help firms cover consultancy, travel and other expenses associated with drawing up a Brexit strategy.
Since then just two businesses a week, on average, have been approved for the scheme.
Of all the companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, 1,673 export into the UK.
Some 651 of these – mainly involved in construction, engineering, agriculture machinery, timber, furniture and food – are “highly exposed” to Brexit, the agency says.
The Be Prepared grant take-up represents a sixth of those firms which are highly exposed, and just 6 per cent of all companies exporting to the UK.
“The biggest problem I’m hearing from business is that the Government is not advertising these schemes properly, people do not know about them,” said Lisa Chambers, Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokeswoman.
“Most affected smaller businesses don’t have the resources or capacity to Brexit-proof their business, they just can’t do it.
“So the fact that there is money there and people are not drawing it down shows it is too bureaucratic, too difficult to access and that the Government is not telling people about it.”
Ms Chambers added that the overall amount of funding being made available in the scheme was “small money”.
Under the scheme, Enterprise Ireland will match half of the costs involved in drawing up a Brexit plan, up to the maximum of €5,000.
Enterprise Ireland said the grant was just one of a number of supports it offered and some companies chose other supports.
It is currently running a national “Brexit Roadshow” as well as “Brexit Advisory Clinics” around the country.
Six clinics have already taken place and the next clinic is planned for June 21st at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Four more clinics are planned before the end of the year.