Fine Gael TD for Kildare South and Parliamentary Party Chairman, Martin Heydon, has said that Kildare businesses are availing of Government supports to ensure they are Brexit ready, and has encouraged any companies not already engaging to contact their Local Enterprise Office.

Deputy Heydon was speaking after a survey carried out by Enterprise Ireland revealed that 85% of Irish businesses are undertaking Brexit preparedness measures.

“My colleague the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, has highlighted the Government measures designed to support businesses through the worst effects of Brexit.

“In the first half of 2018 alone, 43% of the total number of Brexit-exposed firms backed by Enterprise Ireland received grant aid.

“State supports include the Brexit SME Scorecard, which has been used by over 2,300 companies so far, the Market Discovery Fund to support market diversification, the recently launched €300m Brexit Loan Scheme and a €150m low-cost loan scheme for agri-business.

“We also offer €2,000 ‘Start to Plan’ vouchers through InterTrade Ireland, and have held 6 Brexit Roadshows around the country so far with another two planned.

“The Local Enterprise Offices run a Brexit Mentor Programme, which assisted 708 businesses between January and June alone. In the same period, 323 micro-enterprises received tailored supports through initiatives for exporters and lean business practices.

“We are developing proposals for a new, longer-term Business Investment Loan Scheme, as well as a new Business Finance Advisory Hub service.

“In addition, we have a €10m ‘rescue and restructuring scheme’ in place with the European Commission. Under the Scheme, which will run until 2020, Enterprise Ireland can offer restructuring support to SMEs in financial difficulty.

“It is laughable to hear Fianna Fáil trying to make a political football out of Brexit and pretend that none of this preparedness work is happening. Of course the Government is continuing its planning for a possible ‘no deal’ scenario, and given that the negotiations are on-going, it is prudent for the Government to be discreet about this.

“The Enterprise Ireland survey shows us that 53% of the companies surveyed said that in 2018, Brexit would not change their ability and appetite to invest, while 65% said it would not change their employment plans.

“This is really positive as employment is currently at an all-time high in Ireland, just 10 years after the devastating economic crash. In Kildare the numbers of people on the Live Register has dropped by 46% since the Government launched its Action Plan for Jobs.

“This employment growth has been very hard won and we are not about to throw it all away. The Government is working to ensure we minimise the impacts of Brexit as it is so important we protect and encourage this employment growth.

“It is great to see so many companies engaging with the Government supports on offer. I encourage any companies in Kildare not already availing of these supports to consider making contact with their Local Enterprise Office as a first stop shop.”