Enterprise; Trade and Employment | Energy costs and insurance protection plans for retail businesses
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the degree to which retail and other trades, affected by recent multiple price increases such as energy-related costs and insurance, can be protected over the next twelve months; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Government worked hard with the business community in Ireland on the difficulties they faced in trading over the last few years – especially with supports made available related to Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions they faced. We will continue to work with and support businesses, including those in the retail sector, as they look to get through the next challenges they face, especially with the increased cost of living and in particular the energy costs they face.
The Government has already implemented measures to help ease the impact on enterprises of rising energy costs, such as the temporary reduction in the excise duties charged, by 20 cent per litre of petrol, 15 cent per litre of diesel, and 2 cent in the excise duty charged on marked gas oil.
There are over 20 other government grants, vouchers and training supports available to help enterprises reduce their energy bills by reducing their use and becoming more energy efficient. Details of these are available on gov.ie and are communicated with the retail sector through the Retail Forum which I chair.
Government are committed to helping protect viable businesses and are very conscious that we need to do more to assist our local businesses. We need a mix of broad based measures that will help all business and we also need targeted interventions for those most impacted.
My Department is working with the European Commission to allow us to grant state aid to certain businesses to help them with additional costs (both liquidity and energy costs) due to the Russian war on Ukraine. This is under the Ukraine Temporary Crisis Framework introduced by the European Commission earlier this year. Some of these interventions will be targeted at those firms that trade internationally or are impacted by global trade but we will also put in place a more broad based loan scheme which will be open to most other business in Ireland.
The Emergency Response Credit Guarantee Scheme will be a loan guarantee scheme similar to the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme. This loan scheme would be open to small and medium enterprises, primary producers and small mid-caps, whose costs have been affected by the Ukraine crisis. Once details have been agreed, Ireland will submit this scheme for approval by the Commission. Assuming all approvals are granted, I would hope this scheme would be available by year end.
Under the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, 1,652 businesses in Wholesale and Retail Trade; Retail of Motors Vehicles and Motorcycles received loans to the total value of €127,520,239, which equated to 18.08% of the overall total loan value issued under the scheme. Please see attached table for further sectoral uptake of this scheme.
With regard to insurance, the Tánaiste chaired a meeting of the Subgroup on Insurance Reform in July 2022 to consider progress on implementation of the Action Plan for Insurance Reform. Approximately 80% of actions in the Plan are now being delivered. While progress on these actions is welcome, Government is committed to doing more to reduce insurance costs. We are confident that through the implementation of the actions set out in the Action Plan we are delivering meaningful reform of the insurance market and creating the conditions for the provision of affordable insurance for consumers and business.
The Government is acutely aware that we need to do more to help business particularly over coming months but also into next year as energy prices escalate and the cost of living increases. This will be central to our budget discussions and new measures will be announced on Budget Day. My officials are working with officials in the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform, Finance and Environment, Climate and Communications and other relevant departments to develop proposals to assist all business. A priority is to deliver that assistance as effectively and efficiently as possible.
(See attached file: PQ 45383 COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme.docx)
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