Fianna Fáil‘s new Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Billy Kelleher TD has said that the low take up of the Government’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme is deeply disappointing and a worrying indicator of the state of our SME sector online.

The scheme, provided by Local Enterprise Offices, was put in place to support small businesses by helping them migrate parts of their business online.

Deputy Kelleher made the comments on foot of information which shows that just 2,555 businesses have availed of the online Trading Voucher Scheme since it launched in 2013.

He said, “It is estimated that there are in the region of a quarter of a million SMEs in Ireland that employ 900,000 people.

“The fact that only a tiny percentage of these have availed of the scheme suggests that there is something seriously wrong with how this Government are supporting businesses achieve growth online.

“As it stands, Ireland’s e-commerce industry is estimated to be worth over €7 billion euro annually; a figure that is expected to double by 2021. According to the European Commission, close to 70% of online consumer spending in Ireland is spent overseas.

“That shows us that businesses without a strong online presence are at a huge disadvantage particularly as we approach Britain’s impending exit from the European Union.

“As online consumption expands and the trading landscape in Europe changes, Irish businesses will need to diversify their markets and will require an increased market share in order to compete and survive.

He added, “The figures would suggest that greater and more accessible supports are urgently required. When we consider this alongside the patchy roll out the National Broadband Plan, it is clear that the Government needs to up its game considerably if our businesses are not to be left offline and behind.”