Local Authorities will play active role in implementing Action Plan for Jobs 2012

Following the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs launch yesterday (13.2.2012) Phil Hogan TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government said: “Micro and small businesses are at the very core of the Government’s strategy for recovery and Local Authorities have a key role in supporting job creation.  I am currently working on an extensive reform package for local government and as part of those reforms, local government will have an enhanced role in economic development and enterprise support, the establishment of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) provides for that service delivery. But even more importantly, I believe the LEOs will strengthen the support service to micro-enterprises, as they will build on current best practice, be shaped with Enterprise Ireland and link with the traditional business functions already provided by local authorities.”

 

“I can assure the small business sector that local government will embrace the new functions, and that structures will be developed in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition to the new support service. I firmly believe that the supports to be provided by the new LEOs are best delivered at local level, as close to the entrepreneur and small business as possible.  The reforms being brought forward represent some of the most important developments for local government in decades.”

 

Local government will play an active role on implementing the Action Plan for Jobs.  This will include development of a new sectoral strategy to promote employment and support local enterprise through the following measures:

 

•             Local enterprise and business support arrangements;

•             Procurement support;

•             Local development and community based initiatives;

•             The Green Economy;

•             Employment support schemes.  Local authorities will be also become the lead provider of micro-enterprise supports locally.

 

Commenting on the Plan which recognises that start-up micro-enterprises are the lifeblood of local economies and make an important contribution to regional development the Minister stated that “local government has significant capacity to promote economic development.  Most local authorities already play a substantial role in this regard, both through their traditional functions such as infrastructure and planning and increasingly,  in assisting local enterprise and promoting or marketing their areas as locations for tourism and investment.  Every business in an area inevitably has dealings with its local authority.”

 

The “One Stop Shops” will be called “Local Enterprise Offices” and will build on the significant work done by the CEBs to date. The new “one-stop-shop” micro enterprise support structure will be achieved through the dissolution of the existing CEBs and the creation of a new Micro Enterprise and Small Business Unit in Enterprise Ireland (EI) that will work with Local Authorities to establish a new network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in each Local Authority.

 

The LEOs will be mandated to provide a range of supports and services to all local micro enterprises who seek such supports. Essentially, the LEOs will carry out the combined work of the CEBs and the Business Support Units of the Local Authorities.

 

The new LEOs will offer:

•             Local business advisory services (licensing, regulation, planning, etc);

•             Information and support for accessing the local procurement process;

•             Close coupling to NEES (National Employment and Entitlements Service) /SOLAS (Seirbhísí Oideachais Leanunaigh agus Scileanna) services (referrals, access to training/development/recruitment);

•             Access to micro-business supports/incentives (finance, innovation, marketing, mentoring, management development); and

•             Progression for high-growth companies to appropriate EI supports.

 

“This is a major step towards developing a truly multi-functional system of local government performing key roles across various sectors.  I believe the ‘One-Stop Shop’ will be good for small business, good for local government and will see the new LEOs acting as a focal point for a series of important new policy initiatives.”

 

“The ethos and professionalism of the enterprise service will not be altered by this change, indeed the service will be strengthened by synergy with the other economic activities of local authorities, most notably the business support units.  The focus of a local authority is within its functional area and this is the arm of Government that is best suited to identify and support the needs of local entrepreneurs engaged in commercial activity providing employment in their local communities.”

 

The Minister also welcomed the recognition of local authorities’ positive response to requests from Government to exercise restraint in setting commercial rates.  “I am pleased that of the 50 local authorities that had submitted their adopted Budgets to my Department to date, 39 have maintained their Annual Rateable Valuations (ARVs) at 2011 levels, and 11 local authorities have reduced their ARVs”, he said.

 

Welcoming the active role his Department will play in its implementing the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs, the Minister stated that “the review of Waste Management Policy will build on progress in the waste sector to deliver the competitive regime for waste services sought by the Plan”.  The Minister also looks forward to finalisation of the strategy for future structure for water services delivery, the integration of the foreshore consent process with the existing on-land planning system, enhanced alignment between local government and local and community development programmes, and competition of the review of the statutory retail planning guidelines during 2012.  “I am strongly supportive of 2012 Action Plan for Jobs and rigorous oversight of its implementation” he concluded.

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