Enterprise, Trade and Employment | To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the extent to which plans are afoot to meet the challenges and needs of industry, with particular reference to ensuring that the economy recovers quickly
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the extent to which plans are afoot to meet the challenges and needs of industry, with particular reference to ensuring that the economy recovers quickly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Government’s Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), published on 1 June 2021, set out renewed supports, investments and policies to underpin economic recovery and transition, to support the full resumption of economic activity, and get people back to work as quickly as possible. The Plan includes the overarching ambition of having 2.5 million people in work by 2024, a target which has already been exceeded according to the Q4 2021 figures released through the CSO’s Labour Force Survey in February this year.
The ERP outlined supports to help businesses deal with the direct impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as setting out the Government’s medium-term approach to creating the right environment for a jobs-led recovery and, crucially, to ensure that these jobs are more productive, innovative, resilient and in new areas of opportunity.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Government has invested heavily to help the sectors and workers most impacted by the pandemic and to stabilise the labour market. Schemes such as the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) were introduced to support the changing needs of industry through the various stages of the public health crisis, as well as to support industry through the transition back to the full reopening of the economy. Since its introduction, the EWSS, an economy-wide support for enterprise, has made €6.7billion in payments to support over 50,000 employers and nearly three quarters of a million employees. Under the CRSS €727million was paid to 25,700 businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. As of the beginning of February 2022, over €9.1billion had been paid out through the PUP.
“Pillar 3” of the ERP outlines how the Government intends to rebuild sustainable enterprises as the economy recovers. The Plan adopts a two-pronged recovery approach to rebuilding sustainable enterprises – supporting the domestic SME sector, which is critical to broad-based jobs-led economic growth, whilst leveraging the enormous strength of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) sector. It aims to create an environment for a jobs-led recovery through a focus on expanding sectors and by helping business become more resilient and agile.
Progress on the wide range of deliverables and workstreams across the four pillars of the ERP, towards the plan’s overall ambition is being overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment and related sub-groups and Senior Officials Groups and a high-level progress report is due to be published in early June.
In addition to the work already underway, the Government is also looking to prepare for the economy of the future. On 1 March 2022, Government agreed to the development of a White Paper on Enterprise Policy in 2022, led by my Department. The White Paper will set out set out an ambitious medium- to long-term direction for enterprise policy in response to challenges, opportunities and new drivers of growth catalysed by the Covid-19 pandemic, new economic and geopolitical realities, and an increased urgency to accelerate the decarbonisation of industry. In so doing, the White Paper will articulate what needs to be done differently to realise this vision and to set out clearly the risks to be faced – such as energy, skills availability, technological change, etc. – and the policy choices and trade-offs that will arise in order to maintain high-quality jobs, to protect the elements which make Ireland’s economy globally attractive for investment and to ensure a competitive Irish economy into the future.
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