Sunday 18 March 2018

Dozens of local quangos axed in revamp to help small firms

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Government is scrapping all 35 of the local independent quangos advising businesses in a revamp of supports for small and start-up companies.

Enterprise Ireland is being given a bigger role in helping small businesses, under the Government's jobs plan to be launched today.

The County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) across the country will be abolished and replaced with local offices operating from councils' HQs and run by the State job-creation agency.

However, the staff will not all change as some will be retained. A number of the CEB staff are believed to be retiring or have left already, including nine CEOs, and the rest will transfer to Enterprise Ireland or the council staff.

Merging the 35 boards with the councils is expected to save between €500,000 and €2m a year.

The new Local Enterprise Offices (called LEOs) will serve as one-stop shops helping small businesses

The changeover will also allow for comparisons of what supports are provided to companies in different parts of the country, such as:

• Rates and other costs for businesses.

• Speed of planning decisions.

• Incentives for starting up a firm.

The move is aimed at making councils realise the impact of their policies on local businesses.

The growing role for Enterprise Ireland is expected to be welcomed by the business community as the agency's work is highly regarded.

At the moment Enterprise Ireland does not deal with small businesses. But the agency is going to be restructured to focus on small businesses and set up a specific section for potential exporters.

CEBs had operated independently with little supervision and accountability on a national level. Giving Enterprise Ireland greater involvement will make it easier for national plans to be implemented.

At the moment, there are 35 City and County Enterprise Boards -- one per county, plus three more in Dublin and Cork and an additional one in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

The boards are run by about 130 staff and nine are currently operating without CEOs due to the moratorium on appointments, and retirements from the system.


The €27m in funding to the CEBs will now be given to Enterprise Ireland to pay for the LEOs.

Today's plan will also provide more detail on the Government's plans for providing access to finance for small businesses. The Government will set out the details of a €100m fund for small businesses.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will launch the Action Plan for Jobs 2012 this lunchtime.

The 130-page document will set out a range of 200 measures to be implemented by every government department to help create jobs.

The proposals will aim to make the economy more competitive, develop market places, improve the regulatory system, reduce red tape for businesses and provide assistance in funding and mentoring for start-up companies.

The plan will contain specific points to target job creation in sectors such as life sciences, medical devices and digital gaming sectors.

Irish Independent

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