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Budget could be used to help consumers and SMEs on greater energy efficiency

Niall Faherty

As part of its pre-Budget submission published today, Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) is today advocating for state funded sustainability grants to be extended and made more widely available for consumers and businesses.

The submission makes a series of key recommendations including the incentivising of home owners and landlords to undertake deep-retrofits and extending supports such as the Carbon Footprint Grant and Project Assistance Grant to all SMEs.

“Given the challenges faced by the country in terms of upgrading the energy efficiency of the older housing stock, there is a need to incentivise home owners and landlords to undertake deep-retrofits which are expensive and beyond the means of many people, unless Government support is provided”, states Brian Hayes, BPFI Chief Executive.

“The same is true for micro and small SMEs that need to deep-retrofit factories, warehouses, supermarkets, farms, offices etc. While there are currently an excellent range of grants available, piecemeal energy saving solutions are unlikely to bring houses up to the energy rating targets necessary to meet Ireland’s climate action targets.”

“BPFI is strongly supportive of the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 and banks are actively responding to the ‘green’ challenge by developing ‘green’ propositions and products in order to meet the financing needs of borrowers wishing to upgrade homes and commercial premises.”

In summary, BPFI believes that Government should consider addressing the following (details are in the Appendix below):

  • Home Renovation Scheme
    • The planned Government policy to upgrade c. 500,000 homes, focuses on deep-retrofit where necessary to reduce carbon emissions but is expensive and beyond the means of many people, so clear incentives required.
    • State support under such a scheme should be extended also to SMEs to enable them to develop a cohesive decarbonization policy across the entirety of their businesses
  • Carbon Footprint Grant
    • Give consideration to extending a grant like this to all SMEs as it would raise awareness of the SME’s carbon footprint and identify key hotspots that they could prioritise for action in ‘greening’ their businesses.
  • Projects Assistance Grants
    • Give consideration to extending project assistance grants to support all SMEs

 

Notes: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has some 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880 or jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie

Appendix: Details of BPFI Pre-Budget Submission

Home Renovation Incentive

The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI) which expired on 31/12/18 allowed homeowners and landlords to claim a tax credit of 13.5% over 2 years, of the total qualifying expenditure on repairs, renovations and improvements up to a value of €30,000.

While the SEAI has an excellent range of grants available under the Better Energy Homes scheme, piecemeal energy saving solutions are unlikely to bring houses up to the energy rating targets necessary to meet Ireland’s climate action targets. Given the challenges faced by the country in terms of upgrading the energy efficiency of the older housing stock, there is a need to incentivise home owners and landlords to undertake deep-retrofits which are expensive and beyond the means of many people, unless Government support is provided. The same is true for micro and small SMEs that need to deep-retrofit factories, warehouses, supermarkets, farms, offices etc.

We suggest that the planned Government policy to upgrade c. 500,000 homes, should be focused on deep-retrofit and that state support under such a scheme should be extended also to SMEs to enable them to develop a cohesive decarbonization policy across the entirety of their businesses.

Carbon Footprint Grant

Enterprise Ireland clients engaged in manufacturing or internationally traded services can receive grant support towards the costs of measuring the carbon footprint of their business and identify and adopt strategies to manage/reduce emissions.

We recommend that consideration be given to extending a grant like this to all SMEs as it would raise awareness of the SME’s carbon footprint and identify key hotspots that they could prioritise for action in ‘greening’ their businesses.

Project Assistance Grants

For businesses and public sector bodies spending over €250,000 per year on their energy bills, SEAI grants are available to help them develop projects to reduce energy consumption and costs as follows:

Feasibility Study and Project Energy AuditUp to 50% funding to a maximum of €15,000

Final business case and project delivery support grantUp to 75% funding to a maximum of €15,000 where basic energy performance arrangements are considered and up to €37,500 where energy performance contracting (EPC) is considered

We recommend that consideration be given to extending the above type of support to all SMEs.

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