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Government urged to set up €1bn Brexit Response Fund

Government urged to set up €1bn Brexit Response Fund

The British-Irish Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to set up a €1bn Brexit Response Fund to help Irish businesses withstand a ‘Brexit shock’.

It said such a fund would assist the most vulnerable businesses through the Brexit period.

The chamber said the Government should re-allocate Corporation Tax revenue to the fund to offer targeted supports for industries and regions most likely to be affected by a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

The chamber’s Budget 2020 submission proposes a fund that it said would be much broader in nature than the Government’s current loan scheme.

It said the fund should contain supports such as:

Resource workers and companies that need to introduce new training/upskilling programmes to address impending Brexit challenges,
Introduce a support grant for Irish SMEs that export to the UK.
Introduce a customs voucher scheme to support Irish companies dealing with customs processes for the first time.
Offer financial support for the freight and haulage ‘Intermediary’ Sector in Ireland.
Make readjustment supports available to workers who may lose their jobs as a consequence of a no-deal Brexit.
Invest in recruitment and training of official agents with responsibility for ensuring compliance with food and drug safety rules and quality standards.
The chamber said such supports should be open, transparent and easily accessible to applicants.

Director-General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce John McGrane said: “Budget 2020 will be one of the most consequential budgets in the history of the State.

“Ireland is facing the real and growing prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit outcome that will place untold obstructions on UK-Ireland trade. At this critical time, we have to balance short-term uncertainty with long-term imperatives.

“In the shadow of ‘no-deal’, our members are requesting the Government to do more to reassure businesses as they prepare for all eventualities.

“By redirecting €1bn from the larger than expected corporate tax intake into a Brexit Response Fund, Government can shore-up indigenous businesses which are most at risk from a disorderly Brexit. From the agri-food sector to freight and haulage, SMEs across Ireland will need urgent protection.”

Mr McGrane said highly regulated industries like pharmaceutical and finance had to be ready by law so they are prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

However, he said, a lot of smaller businesses are not ready and do not have the money to prepare.

He believes that there is an attitude of “we’ll get ready when it comes”, but he says it is too late for that.

Mr McGrane is also concerned that it is a bit late for the level of risk some businesses are exposed to if there is a hard Brexit.

Every business in Ireland will be affected, he says, and he believes that supply chains behind all sectors will be affected even if businesses do not directly trade with the UK

He said companies need to be prepared at a realistic level and “expect the worst but hope for the best”.

In relation to what businesses can do straightaway, Mr McGrane is encouraging them to think of their own business models and plan and decide what supports they can avail of alongside their various trading partners.

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