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Businesses awaiting energy bill payments of up to €10,000 a month – The Irish Times

Businesses will be eligible for payments to help pay energy bills of up to €10,000 a month, under a new €1 billion scheme to help struggling small and medium-sized businesses .

The design and structure of the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS), which aims to help small businesses facing massive energy bills, is one of the last items in the budget to be set.

A source said two main programs will be announced tomorrow to help businesses with the cost of electricity and gas.

The first is a €200 million program administered by Enterprise Ireland for large companies involved in exporting and manufacturing. Under one of its strands, businesses can receive up to €2 million in financial aid. They will have to produce a business plan that shows how they will get through the crisis and control their energy expenditure.

The second program is aimed at SMEs. The TBESS (Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme) will cover 40% of the increase in electricity or gas bills, up to a limit of €10,000 per month and per company. It will be administered by the Revenue Commissioners, will be backdated to September, will run until at least February and is estimated to cost around €1 billion.

These two measures will also be backed by a new low-cost loan similar to Brexit and Covid loans.

Companies should demonstrate that they comply with the tax rules. It comes as most of the budget is being finalized on Monday.

All students will benefit from a €1,000 reduction in tuition fees this year as part of budget funding secured by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Under these plans, all students, regardless of income, will benefit from a €1,000 reduction in fees this year, effective immediately.

Next year, a family earning less than €100,000 will see a permanent reduction of €500 in fees and any family earning less than €62,000 will pay no more than €1,500 in fees due to changes in scholarship rules of studies.

All scholarship students will also receive a double payment and PhD students will receive a one-time cost of living payment before Christmas. The student grant is usually paid in installments and it is likely that the December installment will be the double payment, a source said.

Parents are also expected to see childcare costs cut by an average of €1,200 per year per child under a deal struck by the Coalition which sees fees reduced by 25%.

The agreed level of support is at the high end of the range that went to coalition party leaders last night.

Children’s minister Roderic O’Gorman’s intention is for the maximum annual childcare fee reduction to be €2,100, sources have said. The discrepancy is likely due to a range of complex factors, including geography and different levels of fees charged by services, as well as differences in how parents use childcare services, with different hours used at different times of the year.

Mr. O’Gorman reported that the cost of childcare will drop by an average of 50% over two years.

The deal will see subsidies paid to childcare providers under the scheme increase from €0.50 per hour to €1.40 per hour, for a maximum of 45 hours per week.

Sources said it would start from January 2023.

Child care reform was a key goal of the Green Party and Mr. O’Gorman began working on it after the last budget.

There will be more money for services to increase capacity, sources said, but that figure has yet to be finally agreed.

Elsewhere, it is understood that coalition leaders have agreed to extend public transport fare cuts of between 20 and 50 per cent for another year.

Final touches are being made to the budget today before its release on Tuesday afternoon. Negotiations are underway on a welfare package – including the exact size of the general increase – and a tax credit for tenants.

Meanwhile, sources have said tax relief worth €500 is being considered for tenants. This represents an increase in tax breaks totaling €400 which were under discussion this weekend.

Entry at the highest tax rate is expected to be around €40,000 with widening tax brackets.

Parents of younger children will get free textbooks at primary level under a deal struck by Education Minister Norma Foley. She has secured a deal for the €47million schoolbook scheme from September next year, and it will not be a one-off measure, continuing in years to come, with schools buying books with funding from the Ministry of Education.

The final composition of the social budget was unclear. Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys has ruled out €20 weekly increases across the board, with speculation centering on whether the Coalition would approve €15 increases. Sources said a €15 raise across the board would cost €1.125 billion. Higher increases would limit the room for more targeted payments.

Talks are ongoing on exactly how to increase weekly social benefit rates, but sources were suggesting on Monday afternoon that €12 could be the landing zone. It is understood the final figure will be agreed at a meeting of the three party leaders this evening, where business support plans for those affected by soaring energy costs are also being finalised.

It is also understood Minister Humphreys has secured a double Child Benefit payment and a €500 one-off payment for carers and disabled people.

Living alone allowances, fuel allowances and working family allowances are all set to increase. A cost-of-living family payment is also requested by Fine Gael, which may include a double payment of child benefit before Christmas. Some €600 of subsidies for household expenses will be divided into several tranches.

The structure of a program to support small and medium-sized businesses with their energy bills was also being worked out, with complications over how it would be paid.

The increase in the health budget had been €1.1 billion to cover cost increases for existing services and new expenditure. But a last-minute deal on healthcare spending will see an additional €50m allocated.

There will be a separate Covid 2023 pot, which will also contain funding for the reduction of waiting lists, with funding also online for diagnostics from GPs who help manage waiting lists.

In the meantime, the purchase assistance program is set to be extended for two years, while a reduction in tuition fees, potentially up to €500, is planned.

In addition, a new vacant property tax should be announced in the 2023 budget.

Payment rates should be double the existing local property tax (LPT) rate for a given property.

According to the plans, owners will have to pay vacant property tax in addition to the existing LPT payment.