October 19, 2023
SMEs lose out as Government confirm TBESS underspend to go back to exchequer – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said the decision by government to send the underspend from the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) back to the exchequer instead of using it to support struggling SMEs is a catastrophe for business.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“The Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) had great promise when it was announced last year.

“Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hoped it would provide them with significant support with their energy bills in the face of a cost of doing business crisis.

“Unfortunately, TBESS was a failure and the scheme only expended 10.5% of its €1.3 billion budget.

“Business had hoped the underspent TBESS money would be reprofiled and redistributed to struggling SMEs.

“However, in a response to a Parliamentary Question I received from the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, he unequivocally stated that all unspent monies would be returned to the exchequer.

“While the €250m Increased Cost of Business Scheme (ICOB) announced in Budget 2024 is welcome, this scheme is inevitably being funded from the TBESS underspend.

“The frustration for Sinn Féin and SMEs is that when TBESS and ICOB spend are subtracted from the overall TBESS underspend, nearly €900 million in funding that was earmarked to support struggling business will be returned to the exchequer.

“Sinn Féin agree with business groups that this is an unacceptable situation, and I would call on the Minister to explain to SMEs how government can make this decision at a time when insolvencies are up 38 percent across the first three-quarters of the year – from 373 in 2022 to 514 in 2023.

“The government owes the business community an explanation as to why they are being short-changed to the tune of nearly €900 million during a cost-of-doing-business crisis.”

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