Waterford Chamber is calling on the Government to re-examine the eligibility criteria for the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS), which was introduced in Budget 2023 to help the business sector with soring energy costs.

According to Gerald Hurley, CEO of Waterford Chamber, the scheme is not fit for purpose as most businesses simply cannot avail of the support.

“While we all know that energy costs have increased exponentially, many businesses who are currently struggling cannot show a 50% increase on wholesale energy costs for the reference period indicated.

“In addition, the application process is extremely complex and time consuming for a small return and needs to be simplified with busy business owners in mind.

“It also needs to take into account business owners who are not currently covered under the scheme such as those who have moved premises in the last year and those who are currently leasing space from a landlord, both of whom are at present not eligible under the scheme and are facing the same significant increases in cost.

“All of these pitfalls are evident in the poor take up and the TBESS is not working for the very group it was designed to help. We have seen very low numbers applying with the latest figures saying just 18,700 businesses had registered for TBESS by the end of January, with 11,200 claimed being approved at a value of €22.7 million. That is just 2% of the €1.2 billion budget set aside for the scheme.

“It’s time for re-evaluation so this scheme can actually deliver some meaningful results for our business community.”