VIRTUALLY all businesses in the equestrian industry will be eligible to lodge a claim for 40% of their monthly energy bills under a new support scheme announced in this week’s Budget.
Full details of the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme have yet to be published but the Small Firms Association has told The Irish Field that racecourses and racehorse trainers are among the many types of business which will benefit from the initiative.
Conor O’Neill, manager of Punchestown Racecourse and chairman of the Association of Irish Racecourses, said: “The sky-rocketing of energy costs is affecting everyone, either commercially or personally. Any support that can alleviate the stress and cost is very much welcomed. I would imagine all racecourses have a monthly electricity bill reaching five figures.
“At Punchestown our monthly bill is perhaps five times higher than most racecourses as we are still hosting a Covid testing facility for the Health Service Executive. We are also unusual in that our bill starts from a high base, because we need to have huge capacity for the Festival, even though we don’t use it for the rest of the year. Your bill is based on your maximum capacity.”
Michael Grassick, chief executive of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, was disappointed to learn that the support scheme will only cover gas and electricity but not diesel. “At this time of year trainers use a lot of electricity to power horsewalkers and drying gear. This scheme will help but fuel is where everyone is feeling the pinch. In my opinion the Government has been very slow to react to the rising fuel prices and the effect it is having on inflation. Fuel prices are driving up the cost of everything else.”
Grassick echoed Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Suzanne Eade in welcoming the additional funding granted to Horse Racing Ireland for 2023. The racing authority will receive Government funding of €72.8 million next year, an increase of €2.4 million (3.4%) on the 2022 grant.
HRI boss Suzanne Eade said: “We are all aware of the contribution that the industry makes to the economy, and that was very evident in all of the Budget engagements we had throughout the last few months with Minister McConalogue and his officials in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
“There are always extra details in a Budget like this that take time to analyse, and we will take this week to understand what all of the measures mean for the industry. The executive in HRI will begin work with the Board of HRI to formulate a budget for 2023 on behalf of the industry, which we will sign off at our December board meeting.”
Small breeders and some big farms will be affected by the reduction in the flat rate payment made to farmers who are not registered for VAT. Currently these farmers can claim back 5.5% on business expenses. The rate goes down to 5% from January 1st.
Racing’s annual grant