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Dáil Speech on Finance Bill 2013 Wednesday 20th February

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: I welcome the Bill; there are many positive initiatives in it. The budget was designed to generate as many jobs as possible as someone from a small business background I welcome the many positive measures in the Bill for small businesses.

It is interesting that the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is present. Many of the measures associated with the budget relate to jobs. I wish to talk about initiatives to reduce youth unemployment and to get young people back to work. At the moment more than 400,000 people are claiming benefit, with just over 300,000 of them long-term unemployed. About 30% of those under 25 are currently unemployed. If we are to make any changes to the Bill, the PRSI holiday for employers who take on employees who have been unemployed for over six months should be extended to cover any person under 25 who is taken on irrespective of the length of time he has been unemployed. It should not matter if that person has been on the dole for a day, a week, a month or six months. There should be a PRSI holiday for taking on such workers.

Certain groups cannot get benefits because they live at home and are not entitled to unemployment benefit if they are means tested as living at home. That group cannot be categorised as unemployed although they are not working. I hope the Minister will consider a PRSI holiday for employers willing to take on people who are under 25 even if they have not been unemployed for over six months.

This week the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation we launched a policy document, Creating Policies that Work – Actions to Address Youth and Long-Term Unemployment. One of the things that was suggested during our discussions was that a fund should be set up for young entrepreneurs. We currently have funds for female entrepreneurs and those who are starting their own businesses but there is nothing for young people. I am talking about people under 25. We have all seen the young people who are involved in the BT Young Scientist of the Year. There are young entrepreneurs with new ideas and the Patents Office could sign them up straight away to make sure their idea is registered as their own. They find it extremely difficulty, however, to bring the idea any further. Why? They cannot access funds because they have no credit history. If there was a young entrepreneurs fund like the female entrepreneur fund which is set at €250,000 and it was set at €750,000 and the Government put in €250,000, that seed capital would generate other funds from major companies like Google and Facebook, which would boost the fund to generate jobs for those people under 25 years who have good ideas but are stymied because they cannot access credit.

I have highlighted the positive measures for jobs in the budget and I hope the Minister of State will consider acting to help the motor industry. It has had a horrendous January. Car sales have dropped by about 20% on last year’s car sales but we put up both VRT and motor tax. If we could reconsider those increases it would stimulate the motor industry, which is a huge industry in the country.

I welcome the budget and hope the Minister of State will take on board my couple of ideas. This was a positive budget for job creation.

ENDS