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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
John Ihle

Small businesses seeking new energy supports face ‘nightmare’ process

Keith Grant of Grant Master Butchers in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, holding an exorbitant bill his business was recently hit with. Photo: Mark Condren

Doctors, butchers, supermarkets and restaurants will have to weigh their rubbish if they want to get emergency energy payments from the Government, it has emerged.

New guidelines for the Temporary Business Energy Subsidy Scheme (TBESS) published this week say that firms looking for help with gas or electricity bills will first have to complete a “carbon footprint exercise” to be eligible.

The process has been described by one SME representative as a “potential nightmare” for small firms.

The exercise requires a business to calculate energy, materials, water and waste use before registering using a Government website called

The toolkit asks firms to supply utility bills or data on resources usage – including the weight of the waste the company produces – and provides recommended actions to reduce their environmental impact.

The extra requirements come on top of other criteria including tax clearance certificates and proof of increased energy costs to claim the subsidy, potentially impeding access to the funds at a critical time for businesses.

“This is potentially a nightmare for a small business to complete and for an accountant to assist will be a nightmare to get the relevant information, for example the annual weight that a business disposes of separated into green, brown and blue bins,” said Jeffrey Case, a chartered certified accountant and member of Midlands ACCA Network which represents dozens of SMEs.

“At a time when businesses need urgent help, the Government just put another barrier in the way to what should have been a straightforward process.”

The Department of Finance was unable to provide a comment when asked for an explanation for including extra steps in the application process when firms have just a few weeks left to claim TBESS if they want a payment this year.

Registration for TBESS opened just last Saturday via and claims will be accepted from next Monday.

Payments will begin flowing to eligible firms once the Finance Bill is signed into law.

Companies that make qualifying claims for September, October and November in the next three weeks will be paid before the end of the year, meaning they can be included in 2022 accounts.

That means firms that do not have their paperwork in order in time could be missing out on €30,000 in state support for this financial year.

The scheme, announced in Budget 2023, allows companies to claim back a portion of the increase in energy costs between September and February if their bills have gone up by 50pc or more. It pays a maximum of €10,000 a month.

The Department of Finance has budgeted €1.25bn for TBESS to assist businesses with energy inflation.

It was originally aimed at big energy users among SMEs, such as butchers and grocery shops, but also includes qualifying businesses – ranging from data centres to GP practices and mortgage brokers.

The programme is the largest single expenditure item in Budget 2023 and required European Commission approval before it could be put into force last week.

Businesses are already rushing to apply for up-to-date tax clearance certificates so they can get the subsidies in the coming weeks without delay.

Applications to get eTax clearance from Revenue nearly doubled year-on-year in November, with almost 20,000 companies seeking the certification. According to Revenue, which is administering the scheme, firms that intend to register for TBESS must hold a current tax clearance certificate or they will not be eligible.

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