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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1-14
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Workplace Relations Commission
 Header Item Workplace Relations Commission
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item IDA Ireland
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Redundancy Payments
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item EU Regulations
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Enterprise Support Services
 Header Item Departmental Data

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1-14

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 1. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the reason companies that do not have a business premise cannot access funding from the small business assistance scheme for COVID; the funding available to outdoor adventure and corporate events industry that has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18072/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am acutely aware of the difficulties that the necessary ongoing Covid-19 restrictions are putting on businesses right across the country. With this in mind the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

I would urge business owners to seek the supports outlined above if they have not already done so. I would also suggest they contact their Local Enterprise Office who can signpost them and advise them of supports that may be available for their business.

Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. Details of the wide range of supports available are on my Department’s website.

The Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID which I recently announced aims to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes and is designed to help with fixed costs.

Applicant businesses are required to operate from a building, or similar fixed physical structure on which business rates are payable. Where the rate account is addressed to a landlord for one or more tenant businesses the grant must be applied for and paid to the operating business in each case. The intention behind this provision is to assist businesses operating from fixed premises to meet some of the ongoing fixed costs of maintaining those premises.

The Government is very much open to proposals as to how we can help businesses further. However, our schemes are there to help meet fixed costs that cannot be avoided and to provide basic weekly income support up to maximum of €350 per week. We are not providing compensation for loss of personal income above this level or compensation for loss of profits for any sector.

The outdoor adventure industry is under the remit of my colleague, Minister Catherine Martin, in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media. An allocation of €55million was secured by that Department in Budget 2021 for a programme of funding under the strategic Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. The Scheme is designed to help strategically important tourism businesses through a direct financial contribution to support them with future operational and continuity plans. Fáilte Ireland is responsible for developing and administering the Scheme. Phase One of the Scheme, which ran from 11th February to 8th March, was open to outdoor activity providers. The process of payments to successful eligible applicants has commenced.

It should be noted that all Business schemes are being reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Workplace Relations Commission

 2. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of complaints made to the WRC regarding the refusal of landlords to accept the housing assistance payment in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18093/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme is administered by the local authorities who pay landlords directly. Pat 4 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 made legal provision for the Housing Assistance (HAP) Scheme. The provisions of the Act were commenced and extended on a phased basis by various regulations and in particular by SI No 404 of 2014 – Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (Commencement of Certain Provisions Order 2014. The Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 prohibits discrimination in the provision of goods and services and The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 inserted the “housing assistance” ground.

  The following are the number of complaints relating to alleged discrimination under the HAP Scheme to end February 2021 that were submitted to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) for adjudication.

Number of HAP Complaints received 2019 2020 1 Jan 2021 to 28 Feb 2021
  106 62 4


  The volume of HAP complaints must also be assessed against the total number of complaints received for adjudication before the WRC. For instance, during 2018 the WRC received 7,724 complaint applications comprising 15,451 individual complaints and during 2019 the WRC received 8,309 complaint applications comprising 20,939 individual complaints.

  Full details of complaints submitted for adjudication in each year are set out in the WRC Annual Reports.

Workplace Relations Commission

 3. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of complaints upheld by the WRC regarding the refusal of landlords to accept the housing assistance payment in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021. [18094/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme is administered by the local authorities who pay landlords directly. Pat 4 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 made legal provision for the Housing Assistance (HAP) Scheme. The provisions of the Act were commenced and extended on a phased basis by various regulations and in particular by SI No 404 of 2014 – Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (Commencement of Certain Provisions Order 2014. The Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 prohibits discrimination in the provision of goods and services and The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 inserted the “housing assistance” ground.

  The following are the number of complaints relating to alleged discrimination under the HAP Scheme to end February 2021 that were submitted to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) for adjudication.

Number of HAP Complaints received 2019 2020 1 Jan 2021 to 28 Feb 2021
  105 106 30
Upheld 24 6 None to date


  The volume of HAP complaints must also be assessed against the total number of complaints received for adjudication before the WRC. For instance, during 2018 the WRC received 7,724 complaint applications comprising 15,451 individual complaints and during 2019 the WRC received 8,309 complaint applications comprising 20,939 individual complaints. Complaints may be subject to a variety of outcomes including being successfully mediated or withdrawn prior to the hearing.

  Full details of complaints submitted for adjudication in each year are set out in the WRC Annual Reports.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 4. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will allow rural-based businesses, such as a lawnmower repair businesses, to opt for the Covid restrictions support scheme if a significant portion of their customers are unable to travel to their premises due to travel restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17744/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am keenly aware that businesses are continuing to make massive sacrifices to protect their communities and I am committed to ensuring that the Government will offer as much assistance and support as possible. My Department has worked to ensure that appropriate supports are in place, please see attached link for further details on the various schemes available: Government supports for COVID-19 impacted businesses - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)

As part of Budget 2021, the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), is operational through Revenue and offers a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels due to COVID of up to €5,000 per week. You may wish to contact my colleague the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe T.D. in relation to your query on the Covid restrictions support scheme as remit for this scheme lies with the Department of Finance.

The Government's Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid (SBASC) may be of relevance to the businesses that are not eligible for the CRSS. Applicant businesses to the SBASC are required to operate from a building, or similar fixed physical structure on which business rates are payable. Where the rate account is addressed to a landlord for one or more tenant businesses the grant must be applied for and paid to the operating business in each case. The intention behind this provision is to assist businesses operating from fixed premises to meet some of the ongoing fixed costs of maintaining those premises.

IDA Ireland

 5. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the guidelines his Department has given to the IDA to ensure its new office in Israel, in the conduct of its business, adheres to EU law and the exclusion of illegal settlements which are not recognised as part of the territory of Israel by EU law and therefore not part of the free trade agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17817/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar IDA Ireland’s overseas teams and office network are vital to support the agency’s efforts in winning new Foreign Direct Investment across the world. From time-to-time IDA seeks to expand its global network of offices and teams. Many firms are looking to expand into new markets and Ireland is a proven location for global companies to grow and serve their customer base in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

  IDA Ireland has decided to tender for a part-time Israel based Business Development Consultant. This person will represent IDA to support its efforts to win new investment. This is a model used across many territories. The Business Development Consultant will be expected to identify Israeli-headquartered target companies with potential for investing in Ireland, engage with senior decision-makers in these companies and present Ireland’s value proposition as an investment location.

  IDA Ireland has advised my Department that as part of its normal evaluation and due diligence process across all regions, it considers many factors including societal and reputational risk, that could be associated with investment activities prior to accepting a client into its portfolio.

  My officials have advised IDA of Ireland's well known position on the illegality of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, which informs our engagement with the State of Israel across a range of bilateral issues, including trade. Ireland distinguishes between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.

  The EU and its Member States, including Ireland, are wholly opposed to Israeli settlements, which are contrary to international law, and are damaging to the prospects of peace.

  UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on 23 December 2016, calls on all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. This Resolution reflected the position already held by Ireland, the EU and the UN for many years.

  Ireland consistently raises human rights issues in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory at the highest international levels, including most recently at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

  Ireland remains steadfast in its support for a comprehensive two state solution which protects the future of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

  As an Agency of my Department, I expect IDA Ireland to align with Ireland's position on this matter.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 6. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his attention has been drawn to possible plans at EU level to impose bans on exports of Covid-19 vaccines to certain non-member states due to similar restrictions in certain countries; and the way in which this may impact on international agreements and on the supply chains of pharmaceutical companies based here. [17838/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department has been engaged on the matter of the EU vaccination authorisation mechanism since the EU's initial Implementing Regulation (EU 2021/111) was adopted in late January, 2021. This Implementing Regulation sought to monitor vaccine exports from the EU to 3rd countries for an initial period of 6 weeks. It was succeeded by Implementing Regulation (EU 2021/442) which extended the monitoring and authorisation period to 30 June 2021.

The European Commission has since adopted a third Implementing Regulation (EU 2021/521) which provides additional authorisation criteria that Competent Authorities within each Member State must consider when assessing any vaccine authorisation request received, including exports to 3rd countries with large vaccine manufacturing capacity and exports to 3rd countries with a higher vaccination rate than the Union, or where the epidemiological situation is less serious than in the Union.

Export authorisation requests for vaccine exports are submitted to the Competent Authority where the vaccine or its active ingredients are manufactured. Currently, Ireland does not manufacture final vaccines for export, however, in fulfilment of our legal obligations, my Department's Trade Licensing & Control Unit has been designated Ireland's "Competent Authority".

Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has been clear that the mechanism underpinned by the Regulation(s) is focused on export monitoring and transparency and is not designed to be an export ban. The export authorisation mechanism has been adopted to preserve the security of EU and global supply chains by introducing the principles of reciprocity and proportionality. The new legal act gives Member States the necessary degree of flexibility to authorise exports unless they cause concern, on a case-by-case basis.

The Commission has stated that the application of the authorisation mechanism should be carefully considered by the Competent Authorities, in conjunction with the Commission, to ensure that decisions are made in a balanced way in order to maintain complex supply chains while safeguarding the availability of vaccines for EU citizens on an equitable basis. Competent Authorities will assess the situation in the EU regarding Advanced Purchase Agreement (APA) commitments, but also the situation in the destination countries. It is also important to record that the most vulnerable countries, including least developed countries and dependent countries within the EU's geographic sphere continue to be exempt from the mechanism.

The Commission is eager to ensure that EU citizens receive a fair share of vaccines, having regard to the Union's €2.7b investment in vaccine development, and to invite other vaccine producing 3rd countries to open their own exports of vaccines. In this regard, I am pleased to record that export data resulting from the mechanism's monitoring function demonstrates that the EU is the main exporter of vaccines globally. Export figures up to 25 March 2021, show that 77 million vaccine doses were exported out of the EU since 1 December. Moreover, virtually every application within the EU for an authorisation has been granted.

As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland supports the pursuit of open, free trade rooted in the multilateral, rules-based system and the WTO. From first principles, we require a very high burden of justification for the introduction of any export monitoring or control measure. We endeavour to ensure that when any such measures are introduced that they are very tightly focused and timebound. Ireland appreciates the highly integrated and global nature of supply-chains for vaccine manufacturing and the vital importance of unrestricted movement of goods to the viability of multinational manufacturing. Accordingly, my Department will continue to advocate for the earliest feasible conclusion of the existing measures, which are currently designed to run until 30 June 2021, as well as for the highest thresholds of justification to be applied when assessing export authorisations received from industry.

Finally, I might also note that in light of the worldwide need for vaccines in the context of COVID-19, the Commission is also working with industry to endeavour to ensure maximum manufacturing capacity is committed to vaccine production.

Redundancy Payments

 7. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the measures that will be put in place to ensure workers on lay off will be able to access statutory redundancy payments swiftly in the event that their employment is no longer available after the current Covid-19 restrictions on redundancy are lifted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17841/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Government has always been clear that the emergency measure relating to redundancy entitlements following temporary periods of lay-off and short-time work introduced due to Covid-19 is a temporary measure. When the emergency measure ends eligible employees will be able to avail of their entitlement to make a claim for redundancy to their employer.

Under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967, it is the employer’s responsibility to pay statutory redundancy payments to eligible employees, in the first instance. However in situations where an employer is unable to pay these entitlements due to financial difficulties or insolvency, an application for payment under the Redundancy Payments Scheme may be submitted to the Department of Social Protection. The Department can make the statutory redundancy payment to eligible employees on behalf of the employer. The Redundancy Payments Scheme is funded from the Social Insurance Fund.

Following receipt of the application and the required documentation, the Department of Social Protection would normally issue payment within 6 weeks.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 8. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if the concerns of the retail industry will be taken into consideration (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17848/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am keenly aware of the critical role that the retail sector plays, as the largest private sector employer in Ireland, in contributing to the Irish economy.

  The past year has been a difficult year for all businesses, including retailers. The impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have posed significant challenges for businesses and it is vital that businesses continue to develop their resilience in the face of these and future challenges.

  I would like to thank retailers for their continued support of the national effort through this unprecedented public health crisis.

  Decisions on lifting the current temporary restrictions are made by Government based on health advice. I know that adequate notice is important for the sector and I will provide as much notice as possible based on the timing and nature of the decision by Government.

  S.I. No. 701 of 2020 Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 and S.I. No. 4 of 2021 Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No. 10) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/1f150-view-statutory-instruments-related-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/) clearly sets out the temporary restrictions under Level 5. A list of essential services can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/ and the list of essential retail outlets at Level 5 can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/60ecc-essential-retail-outlets-for-level-5/

  The decision to move to full scale Level 5 was not taken lightly and all factors were considered.

  Under Level 5, only essential retail outlets will remain open and all measures in Level 5 will stay in place until at least April 5 2021. Further information can be found on https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/

  Level 5 does not restrict people from purchasing any product, it does however restrict people from physically going into non-essential stores. This is to stop people making unnecessary journeys, congregating and browsing for non-essential goods, to limit the spread of the virus.

  Under the current temporary restrictions while click and collect of non-essential retail items is no longer permitted, click or phone and delivery can continue.

  We are asking retailers to fully get behind the spirit of the regulations. In particular, we are asking retailers with mixed retail offering which have discrete spaces for essential and non-essential retail to ensure the strict separation of relevant areas.

  An Garda Síochána are engaging with retailers and enforcing the regulations where necessary.

  Minister English has met regularly with Retail Forum members and representatives from the retail grocery and distribution sector to continuously discuss and assess adherence to the public health restrictions.

  COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 - The Path Ahead which can be found on https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/ sets out the approach to the next phase, which is subject to ongoing review and taking into account the evolving epidemiological situation.

  The Government is aware that some businesses are concerned that some landlords are continuing to insist on the payment of rents and leases as normal despite their premises being closed. At the same time, we must remember that landlords have their own financial obligations, like debt repayments, insurance, or security costs, that still need to be paid. One person’s rent might be another person’s income or pension.

  The issue of commercial rents is primarily a contractual matter for the parties involved. The Government has urged landlords and tenants to talk to one another and come to some arrangement, as it is in everybody’s interest that terms are amicably agreed.

  With this in mind, on 1st October 2020, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment published the Code of Conduct between landlords and tenants for commercial rents, which was developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders and based on examples from other jurisdictions. The aim of the voluntary Code is to facilitate discussions between landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19. It sets out a structured approach for engagement between both commercial landlords and tenants, based on their mutual interest in continuing to work together. The Code can be found on the Department’s website.

  The Government has introduced a wide range of supports to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and they can be found on the Department’s website https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

  The Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID is a new €60million grant scheme I announced recently and applications are now being taken by the Local Authorities. The closing date for this scheme is 21st April, 2021. It is a scheme designed to support those who are ineligible for CRSS and other sectoral schemes. The scheme will provide a grant of €4,000 to businesses to assist with their fixed costs eg rent, utilities, security etc. Your business may be eligible for this grant.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 9. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will consider a compensation package for retailers of clothing and footwear that had forward purchased seasonal stock which now remains unsold due to Covid-19 restrictions and cannot be returned to the suppliers due to the nature of the purchase contracts; if zero interest loans through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland or other entities will be considered for the sector; if retailers depending on the sale of seasonal stock will be allowed to open under separate regulations for their trade; if the click and collect facility will be allowed; if such affected retailers will be exempted from the rule under the employment wage subsidy scheme relating to a monthly drop in income of 30% to allow the support to continue thereby assisting with cash flow and enabling existing levels of employment to continue; if the Covid restrictions support scheme will be increased for these retailers; if he will devise a plan of ongoing supports for this sector based on the suggestions and considering the challenges the sector faces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17857/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am keenly aware of the critical role that the retail sector plays, as the largest private sector employer in Ireland, in contributing to the Irish economy.

  The past year has been a difficult year for all businesses, including retailers. The impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have posed significant challenges for businesses and it is vital that businesses continue to develop their resilience in the face of these and future challenges.

  My colleague, Minister English, as chair of the Retail Forum, has met regularly with Retail Forum members and representatives from the retail grocery and distribution sector to discuss and assess matters impacting the sector as a result of COVID-19 and Brexit.   

  I would like to thank retailers for their continued support of the national effort through this unprecedented public health crisis.

  Decisions on lifting the current temporary restrictions are made by Government based on health advice. I know that adequate notice is important for the sector and I will provide as much notice as possible based on the timing and nature of the decision by Government.

  The Government has introduced a wide range of supports to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and they can be found on the Department’s website https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

  My colleague the Minister for Finance is responsible for matters relating to the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme.   

  The Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID, which I launched, is a €60million grant scheme that was announced by Government recently and applications are now being taken by the Local Authorities. The closing date for this scheme is 21st April, 2021. It is a scheme designed to support those who are ineligible for CRSS and other sectoral schemes. The scheme will provide a grant of €4,000 to businesses to assist with their fixed costs eg rent, utilities, security etc.

  Further details of this scheme are also available on https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

  All Government COVID support schemes are being kept under review.

EU Regulations

 10. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the way the EU environment taxonomy will impact on future corporate reporting obligations. [17870/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Taxonomy Regulation (2020/852) introduces an EU wide unified classification framework ('taxonomy') for determining whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable, for the purpose of establishing the degree of environmental sustainability of an investment.

The Regulation will also apply to undertakings that are subject to the obligation to publish a non-financial statement under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (2014/95/EU). The requirement to publish a non-financial statement is transposed in S.I. 360 of 2017 as amended. It applies to public-interest entities that are large and have more than 500 employees including banks, insurance undertakings, listed entities and public limited companies. Arising from the Taxonomy Regulation they will be obliged to disclose in the statement their turnover, investment or expenditure associated with environmentally sustainable activities under the taxonomy framework.

Article 8 of the Taxonomy Regulation sets out that the EU Commission are to adopt delegated acts by June 2021, which will specify the content, presentation and methodology of the information to be disclosed by undertakings subject to the Non-Financial Reporting Directive.

The EU Commission is also reviewing the Non-Financial Reporting Directive and a legislative proposal is anticipated in April.

Departmental Staff

 11. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in his Department by gender in tabular form. [17907/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The information required by the Deputy for staff of my Department by grade and gender is provided in tabular form below. This data is sourced from the National Shares Services Office and is reflective of the position at 29 March 2021.

GRADE DESCRIPTION GENDER TOTALS TOTAL
ASSISTANT SECRETARY   7
Female 2  
Male 5  
PRINCIPAL OFFICER   55
Female 30  
Male 25  
ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL   145
Female 68  
Male 77  
HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER   138
Female 78  
Male 60  
ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER   32
Female 17  
Male 15  
TOTAL STAFF   377

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 12. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will consider implementing a mechanism for businesses to switch from lesser Covid restrictions support scheme payments to greater small business assistance scheme for Covid payments or to claim the balance under the scheme to augment their Covid restrictions support scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17934/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar CRSS was designed to provide a well targeted support to assist those public facing businesses located in areas where public health restrictions were in place. The amount payable was based on the eligible business’s turnover for a comparative period pre-pandemic. Turnover provided an equitable proxy by which to calculate the costs which the business incurred, meaning that payments were commensurate with these ongoing costs.

The SBASC was designed to provide assistance to those businesses who do not qualify for CRSS or other similar sectoral support schemes. As SBASC is being administered by the 31 Local Authorities, a requirement was that the Scheme be straightforward to administer for both applicants and administrators alike, which is why a flat rate payment of €4,000 for Q1 was decided on.

The first quarter payment for SBASC is specifically for businesses that are not in receipt of the CRSS during that period and under the terms of the it is not possible to receive both SBASC and CRSS at the same time.

The Deputy will recall we announced at the time of the launch of the SBASC that these payments are not designed to compensate for lost income and are designed to ensure that assistance is provided for unavoidable fixed and ongoing costs to enable businesses to resume when restriction levels are eased. It is also important to note that CRSS has been available to eligible businesses since October 2020 and has included several bonus payments throughout that period, whereas SBASC will only cover period since the start of 2021.

I wish to assure the Deputy, however, that all schemes for which my department is responsible are kept under constant review.

Enterprise Support Services

 13. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the financial assistance and other supports available to local authorities and community groups to develop digital hubs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17953/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar On 15 January last I published Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy to make remote working a permanent option for life after the pandemic. A key action within the National Remote Work Strategy is to extend the mapping and classifications of hubs - as completed by Western Development Commission on the Atlantic Economic Corridor - across the country to develop national data on hub infrastructure. Enterprise Ireland is actively working to support the implementation of this strategy through:

- mapping and classification of hubs;

- mapping regional and local need to inform future investment in enterprise centres/hubs; and

- investment in remote work hubs and infrastructure in under-served areas thus underpinning the development of the national hubs network.

On 20 November 2020, I announced €8.24m in grants for 95 Enterprise Centres around the country administered through Enterprise Ireland. The funding will ensure that the Enterprise Centres, many of which have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, can sustain their businesses, pivot and further develop their services to support the next wave of Irish start-up companies. Enterprise Centres provide important infrastructure for entrepreneurs and are an essential part of the start-up ecosystem across Ireland. The Centres, many of which are regionally based, provide space, mentoring and support to start-up founders and teams, helping them to scale internationally.

To date, my Department has provided funding of €250 million to support the establishment of approximately 270 enterprise centres throughout Ireland and administered by Enterprise Ireland. This investment has enabled the establishment of physical space for entrepreneurs, start-ups, scaling companies, SMEs and a balance of small scale FDI; delivery of enterprise relevant programmes to companies; and provision of physical space to support remote working.

Since 2017, Enterprise Ireland has administered Departmental funding to 91 projects totalling €16,434,595 under both the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Community Enterprise Centres Schemes. An emerging feature of projects funded under these schemes is the provision of physical space to support remote working.

Currently there is an Enterprise Ireland open ‘Regional Development Feasibility Fund’ that promoters, looking to scope out and investigate the viability of larger full-scale projects such as remote working hubs, can apply for. A feasibility grant of €15,000 or 50% of eligible costs, whichever is lesser, is available to qualifying applicants meeting the required criteria.

Departmental Data

 14. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if a schedule will be provided of the data sets, databases and file types his Department has shared with the Department of Health since 2000. [17970/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I understand that the Deputy has clarified that she is seeking details of any 'personal information on private persons' sent from my Department to the Department of Health during the period in question.

  From a review of files in the time available there are no records of data sets or databases containing personal information shared by my Department with the Department of Health since 2000.


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