Leaders Questions – Cost Of Business Scheme

* To ask the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment when the increased cost of business scheme will be rolled out to business.

– Louise O’Reilly T.D.


The Increased Cost of Business (ICOB) grant, announced in Budget 2024, is intended to particularly benefit small and medium sized businesses operating from a rateable premises.

The grant is intended to aid firms who have been affected by rising costs but is not intended to directly compensate for all increases in wages, or other costs, for every business. The total allocation for the grant is €257m.

Officials within my Department are leading the introduction of this scheme, working in conjunction with the Local Authorities, the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is currently being drafted between my Department and the Local Authorities to underpin the operation of this scheme. This SLA will cover the delivery, funding, and oversight arrangements for the grant scheme.

The administration of the grant will be carried out by Local Authorities with a view to providing relief in the first quarter of this year. Businesses will be contacted directly by their Local Authority. The grant has been set up in this way to ensure that the scheme is accessible to smaller businesses, who may have had difficulties availing of previous schemes. There is no intention to limit the scheme in any way related to employee numbers.

A business must, at a minimum, meet the following eligibility conditions:

  • It is a commercially trading business operating directly within a premises that is commercially rateable by a Local Authority.
  • It has provided confirmation of its bank details to the respective Local Authority.
  • It is rates compliant, including those businesses with a phased payment arrangement in-place.
  • It is tax compliant, and in possession of a valid Tax Registration Number.

Data analysis was undertaken by my officials, based on data provided by Tailte Éireann, to estimate the number of potentially eligible businesses. With regards to each local authority, this analysis estimated that up to 3,955 premises in County Clare, 1,909 premises in County Carlow, 5,161 premises in County Tipperary, and 4,639 premises in County Kildare could be eligible for the grant.

However, the final number of qualifying premises may differ, as exclusions for vacant premises, non-rates compliant and non-tax compliant businesses are considered.

In relation to further supports for the SME sector, the Local Enterprise Offices provide productivity and competitiveness supports to small businesses to cover Lean, Green and Digital concerns. These include the Trading Online Voucher, Green for Business, and the Energy Efficiency Grant. The ‘All in a Day’s Work’ national campaign also emphasises the benefits of these supports for businesses; namely saving them time, energy, and money.