Cabinet to discuss energy top-up payment for businesses

March 6, 2024

Businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors are in line for a top-up payment of up to €3,000 in the Energy Efficiency Grant, under proposals Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney will bring to the Cabinet.

Businesses in these sectors, who employ up to 50 people, are already eligible for a capital grant of up to €5,000 and now they will be eligible to apply for up to €8,000 in capital grant assistance to improve their energy efficiency.

The minister will also tell the Government that proposals are due by the end of next month to change Employer PRSI, which will reduce the cost of employing a person at the National Minimum Wage.

Mr Coveney is working with Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris to examine ways in which the National Training Fund can help cut costs for business.

In the coming weeks, more than 143,000 businesses across the country will receive €257 million in once-off grants from the increased cost of business (ICOB) scheme.

Businesses who paid between €1 and €10,000 in rates last year will receive half of their payment back.

Businesses who paid between €10,000 and €30,000 in rates will receive a flat grant payment of €5,000 back.

A report into business costs will also go to the Cabinet this morning.

The study examines the cumulative impact of measures including Auto-Enrolment Pension, Parent’s Leave and Benefit, Statutory Sick Pay, Additional Public Holidays, the transition to a Living Wage, and the Right to Request Remote Working.

The report looks at how Ireland compares internationally on each measure.

Before introducing the Statutory Sick Pay scheme in January 2023, Ireland was an outlier, being one of the few countries in the EU without such an entitlement.

In terms of automatic-enrolment pension, Ireland is currently the only OECD country that does not operate such an arrangement as a means of promoting retirement savings.

In addition, Ireland currently has ten public holidays (up by one since 2022). This is in line with the OECD average but below the EU average of 12.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath will seek approval for the 2024 Finance Action Plan to support the development of the international financial services sector in Ireland up to 2026.

The update to the IFF strategy gives greater focus to digital finance.

Update on campaign over construction workers

Minster Harris will update the Government on a number of measures being taken to attract people into careers in construction and offshore wind.

He will outline the next steps in a campaign to recruit Irish people working on construction sites across the world to return to Ireland to work on sites here.

Mr Harris will confirm he will meet a number of Irish construction workers in the UK next week, who left during the economic crash and discuss their motivations for staying abroad and some of the barriers to returning home.

Mr Harris will confirm the number of people seeking to become craft apprentices is significantly increasing but there is a need to continue to attract people into this area.

This includes a targeted campaign to school leavers on modern methods of construction.

In addition, he will update the Government on a Department-commissioned report on the potential economic benefits of offshore wind to Ireland. The report states it could be worth up to €38 billion.

The minister will confirm an allocation of €500,000 to develop skills relevant to off-shore wind. One aspect will be to target mid-career professionals with relevant skills in engineering, project management and environmental management and offer on-the-job learning in off-shore wind.

Memo on roll-out of free schoolbooks scheme

Minister for Education Norma Foley is bringing a memo to the Cabinet about the roll-out of the free schoolbooks scheme for Junior Cycle students.

In 2023, she announced the new scheme that will see the Government invest over €50 million to provide free schoolbooks, workbooks and copybooks for 558,000 pupils.

The funding will cover the cost of schoolbooks and e-books, as well as copybooks and other classroom resources.

Ms Foley will tell colleagues that the extension of the free schoolbooks scheme to Junior Cycle students is designed to ease the financial pressure on families.

Separately, Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys will inform the Cabinet that former garda assistant commissioner John Twomey is to head up a new stakeholder group on dog control.

The group will be tasked with bringing recommendations to Ms Humphreys in terms of strengthening the legislation around the control of dogs.

It is understood the group will be made up of representatives from a number of key Government departments, as well as the likes of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Dogs Trust, Comhairle na Tuaithe and the ISPCA.

Earlier this year, Ms Humphreys announced a series of measures in response to dog attacks.

These included trebling on-the-spot fines for the most serious offences from €100 to €300; provision of €2 million for dog warden services to upgrade the facilities and transport and funding for a public awareness campaign, which will be launched shortly.

She is believed to be very open to the idea of following the UK in taking specific action in relation to certain dangerous breeds, including the XL Bully.

Article Source – Cabinet to discuss energy top-up payment for businesses – RTE

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