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Enterprise; Trade and Employment | Small business supports and trade

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the extent to which support is being made available to small businesses including sole traders who are under economic pressure arising from various rising costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the degree to which the Government continues to focus on those small and medium enterprises coming under increasing cost pressure from whatever source with a view to ensuring continuity of activity, enterprise and trade at local level; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


I wish to reassure the Deputy that this Government is very aware of the difficulties that businesses are facing due the current energy crisis.

Businesses now require help with their energy bills and that is why a significant package to help businesses with escalating energy costs and to plan for the future was announced in Budget 2023.

As the Deputy is aware, the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme is being designed to support eligible businesses that have experienced a significant increase in their electricity and/or natural gas costs. It will apply to trades, professions and ‘new businesses’ and will be finalised as part of the Finance Bill which is progressing through the Houses.

The new €200 million Ukraine Enterprise Crisis Scheme for manufacturing and internationally traded firms will provide up to €500,000 per firm. This is to help with rising costs and ensure there is sufficient liquidity available in the markets and up to €2 million per firm for energy intensive business.

The €1.2 billion Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme will provide confidence to Irish businesses that lending is available for working capital and short to medium term investment purposes. It will supply low-cost unsecured lending facilities for SMEs, primary producers and small Mid-Caps to spread the costs of an increase in input costs and disruption to supply chains, the move to new suppliers, the absorption of the cost of disruption and evolving their businesses to become more resilient in the face of business shock. The legislation underpinning the scheme is due before the Houses of the Oireachtas in November, which will then allow for the operationalisation and deployment of the scheme. A new State-backed Growth and Sustainability Loan Scheme will also be opened next year.

Microfinance Ireland (MFI) provides affordable loans of up to €25,000 to microenterprises that cannot obtain funding through traditional sources. In addition to its lending services, MFI provides post approval mentoring services delivered through the Local Enterprise Office Network to its borrowers.

The reduced rate of VAT on gas and electricity from 13.5% to 9% has also been extended until the 28th February 2023.

The Local Enterprise Offices provide a wide a selection of productivity measures designed to assist firms. LEAN for Micro, provides support to companies to introduce lean principles, and undertake a specific cost savings project. Green for Micro helps small businesses prepare for the low carbon, resource efficient economy of the future. Digital Start helps business managers prepare and implement a plan for the adoption of digital tools and techniques across their business.

The Government will keep the energy situation under constant review, and we will continue to examine what measures are possible to manage the impact of rising energy prices.

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