Year-end rates waiver for SMEs ‘quite likely’

A full waiver of commercial rates for small businesses until the end of the year is “quite likely” and will form a central plank of the Government’s job’s stimulus package, to be announced this month.
Year-end rates waiver for SMEs ‘quite likely’
19/02/2019 Housing minister Darragh O’Brien TD on the plinth of Leinster House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
19/02/2019 Housing minister Darragh O’Brien TD on the plinth of Leinster House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

A full waiver of commercial rates for small businesses until the end of the year is “quite likely” and will form a central plank of the Government’s job’s stimulus package, to be announced this month.

A three-month waiver was introduced from March 27 at a cost of €260 million to the exchequer, but senior Government sources have confirmed to the Irish Examiner that a full waiver is being considered.

To extend the waiver until the end of the year is estimated to cost a further €520 million to the local government budget, which in turn would need to be met from exchequer funds.

New Housing Minster Darragh O’Brien and Public Expenditure Minster Michael McGrath are still discussing the details for how long the waiver will remain, but waiving rates for a full year could cost as much as €1.3bn.

It is understood the Department of Housing before the changeover of government were “well advanced” in their consideration of waiving rates until the end of the year and the senior sources have confirmed that is a preferred option.

However, consideration is also being given to how to give small businesses cash injections and one of the options being looked at is giving companies the cash equivalent to the rates waiver.

Despite the original government decision to approve the rates waiver in March, a furious row erupted between the Department of Housing and Public Expenditure officials over the funding of such a waiver.

It has been said that DPER officials were only willing to sanction €90 million of the €260 million cost of waiving the rates.

Similar tensions are said to be at play at present and ultimately final approval for the scheme will need to come from Cabinet and the Taoiseach, sources say.

The Cabinet sub-committee on economic recovery met yesterday in a meeting chaired by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. A final decision on the extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Temporary Wage Subsidy is due next week.

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