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European Commission approves €1.2 billion energy support scheme for businesses

Businesses who qualify for the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme will receive 40% of the increase in its energy bills.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has approved the Government’s Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS).

Announced as part of Budget 2023, the grant scheme is designed to assist businesses with their energy costs during the winter months.

The scheme will be open to businesses that have seen an increase in their average energy unit price of 50% or more from 2021.

Businesses who qualify will receive 40% of the increase in their gas and electricity bills. A monthly cap of €10,000 will apply. 

The TBESS will cost approximately €1.2 billion and will be administered by the Revenue Commissioner under a self assessment basis.

As the scheme was designed to be compliant with the EU state aid Temporary Crisis Framework, it needed approval by the EU Commission in advance of making payments.

The scheme’s online system for registrations will open on Saturday 26 November. Businesses will then use the system to submit claims under the scheme from 5 December.

Payments will be made once Finance Bill 2022, which contains the legislation underpinning the scheme, is enacted later in December.

Revenue’s guidelines on the scheme will be updated today, setting out further details regarding how businesses can register for and make claims under the scheme using the online system.

Welcoming the EU’s approval of the scheme, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it is “so important to so many businesses struggling to pay astronomical gas and electricity bills”.

“My Government colleagues and I have been hearing from businesses all around the country about how much they really need this money – and we want to get it to them as soon as possible – ideally before Christmas,” Varadkar said.

He urged businesses owners and managers to “have your bills ready, have your tax clearance certs ready, and make sure that your claim can be processed by Revenue without any undue delay”.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe also welcomed the move. He said the scheme is “the largest single item announced as part of Budget 2023, the Government’s cost of living budget that will help individuals, families and businesses deal with rising prices”.

“The scheme will provide much needed support to thousands of businesses across the country who are experiencing a material shock to the price of their energy inputs,” he said.

When the scheme was announced in September, business groups claimed that a payment of 40% of a bill’s increase won’t do enough to protect employers.

The managing director of Retail Excellence, the largest representative body for the retail industry in Ireland, said:

“We welcome the fact that there has been an intervention in the energy crisis with targeted supports and that many people will have more money in their pockets to spend, but we will have to examine the qualifying criteria for the energy support scheme in more detail.

“It remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient for many businesses who have been crippled by rising costs this year,” Duncan Graham said.

Labour also criticised the scheme, calling it a “license to print money” for energy companies.

“The TBESS is an undercooked eleventh hour measure, and it really shows. The details are sketchy and it is simply back of the envelope stuff. It is alarmingly clear that lessons have not been learned from previous support schemes,” finance spokesperson Ged Nash said.

“Rather than cap the price of energy and guarantee the jobs and wages of workers, the new TBESS will in effect indirectly subsidise profiteering energy companies. “

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Jane Moore

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