Dozens of firms take up Brexit grant offer
Around three exporting companies a week on average have been approved for a state-backed Brexit-ready grant since June.
The Be Prepared Grant rolled out by Enterprise Ireland (EI) provides firms with up to €5,000 to get themselves in shape to deal with any potential fallout from the UK's EU exit.
It was launched in June, but is limited to EI's 5,000 client companies. So far, around 45 have been approved for the scheme, with Dublin accounting for around 40pc of the applications.
Exporters have been the early casualties of the Brexit vote, due to sterling's dramatic devaluation in the wake of the referendum last June. Although the pound has recovered some ground since it crossed the 90 pence to the euro mark in recent weeks, it is still hovering around the high 80s.
It's estimated that the pound has lost around a fifth of its value in the wake of the referendum.
The grant support is designed to help firms cover consultancy, travel and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with drawing up a Brexit action plan.
EI will match 50pc of the costs incurred by a company in drawing up a strategy, up to a maximum of €5,000. A spokesman said there has been a "strong pipeline" of applications.
"We expect more applications following on from the 163 one-to-one meetings that took place between Brexit exposed companies and independent advisers in the Brexit Zone at International Markets Week earlier this month. "The one-to-one meetings with client companies focused largely around currency risk management, transport/logistics and purchasing/supply chain. Currency risk management was the top item on the agenda for the majority of companies," he said.
Companies in the industrial, life sciences and consumer sectors account for the chief recipient of the grant, followed by ICT and international services.
But the fact that the grant is available to just Enterprise Ireland client companies has led to criticism.
"It's certainly not fair that EI companies have this help and that other companies cannot avail of Enterprise Ireland support," Irish Exporters Association chief Simon McKeever told the Irish Independent.
Stephen Donnelly, Fianna Fail's Brexit spokesman, questioned whether €5,000 was enough to help companies, and said EI was not getting enough resources.
"EI are superb and we are not using them. We need a national programme response to this."
Cross-border development body InterTrade Ireland is also providing support to exporters.
In July the Irish Independent reported that about 15 companies had been provided with Brexit "start planning vouchers", worth €2000/£2000 each, aimed at ensuring businesses get advice on specific issues such as movement of labour, goods, services and currency management.