Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan has said that some local businesses will be severely impacted by Government proposals to link the commercial rates charges they must pay to their property’s energy rating.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after she questioned the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, on the matter.
The Minister also specified in his reply to Deputy Nolan that the basis for this approach can be found in Action 46 of the All Government Climate Action Plan 2019 to Tackle Climate Breakdown which examined the feasibility for commercial rates to be linked to BER ratings:
“The Minister has made it clear to me that it is Government’s intention to commence those sections of The Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019, that will enable local authorities to introduce rates directly linked to a premises energy rating in 2022,” Deputy Nolan said.
To those businesses that can upgrade their BER rating, some alleviation of rates may apply.
But for those businesses who will struggle to afford costly renovation or upgrading works, no such alleviation of rates will be available.
As I understand it from the Minister, there were plans to commence the relevant sections of the legislation and introduce the regulations this year, but preparations to do so were delayed.
My sense however is that many local businesses will simply despair at the thoughts of being denied the opportunity to have a reduction in their commercial rate charges applied because of circumstances outside their control, such as an inability to access renovation funding.
I understand from the Minister that the specific nature of any such schemes at local level will be a matter for the local authority concerned.
But we have to see this within the context of local authorities such as those in Laois-Offaly that are already facing significant cuts to their incomes from central government for road repair and maintenance.
How many local authorities will be able to resist the opportunity to increase their commercial rates income given the opportunity to do so?
This is the question that will cause deep concern among many local businesses just as they were hoping for a recovery of sorts in 2022,” concluded Deputy Nolan.