IMSE, the group representing small and medium sized firms, has called for the continuation of the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme beyond the end of February and for the streamlining of the application process which it says is ‘extremely complex’ to apply for.
The scheme – known as TBESS – covers 40% of the additional costs that businesses have experienced in their energy bills.
To qualify, firms have to demonstrate that they have experienced a 50% increase in energy costs over a 12 month period.
“It’s great that it is there, but it has proven extremely complex to avail of. It takes several hours of work for SMEs to apply for it. It’s sufficiently complex that most business ask their accountants to do it for them,” Neil McDonnell, CEO of ISME explained.
He added that some businesses were reluctant to apply on the basis that they didn’t want the increased focus on their business or they were concerned that they might have to return TBESS payments if they hadn’t ‘crossed all the Is and dotted the Ts’.
Most of the energy supports for domestic customers and business that were announced in the budget are set to end in the coming weeks weeks, but there has already been a pledge from the Taoiseach that there would be no cliff edge.
“There is no reason why there should be a drop dead date,” Mr McDonnell said.
“Energy prices have come down but they remain elevated. There is no reason why they shouldn’t continue for longer as businesses are very stretched financially.”
The Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath, confirmed to RTE News over the weekend that the supports for business struggling to pay energy bills were to be reviewed.
The TBESS is expected to be reviewed as part of the process.