Average business expenditure on gas has risen 90% year-on-year, according to a survey of firms by business group Ibec.

It also found that electricity expenditure was up 60% on 2021.

The has led to 70% of firms predicting lower profits this year, as higher costs weigh on their bottom line.

As a result, Ibec has called on the Government to strengthen the business energy supports announced in Budget 2023 to help support struggling companies.

It specifically wants to see changes to the Ukraine Enterprise Crisis Scheme to allow more firms to qualify.

"A lot of the businesses that need the schemes the most don't have access," said Conor Minogue, Ibec's senior executive for Infrastructure, Energy and Climate Policy.

"We found that of the 39% of companies that reported a doubling of their energy costs in 2022, only a quarter would qualify for that UECS - which is really the scheme with the most potential to help middle and large-sized firms that are under extreme pressures because of these rising costs," Mr Minogue said.

Ibec also wants to see more money made available to firms that avail of the energy supports.

"What we're seeing is the actual support levels are also below what we're seeing in other European countries," he said. "That leaves, obviously, a lot of companies at a competitive disadvantage - particularly export-focused companies."

It says this will become even more important in the coming months, as businesses prepare for even higher energy costs in 2023.

According to its survey, firms expect gas prices to be three times higher than their 2021 level next year.

Meanwhile, they are forecasting electricity prices that are two and a half times higher than last year.

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"Prices have fallen from the crazy heights we saw in August, but prices have been rising the end of 2021," Mr Minogue said. "We need to see a longer, sustained period of lower wholesale prices for that to really trickle down into the retail prices."

There are also many firms that are about to come out of hedging arrangements that had helped to insulate them from rising prices in recent months.

"Lots of firms would have been insulated from those high wholesale costs but most of them will be gone in the next two to three months," he said.

There is, however, a silver lining in the survey - as more companies look to make green investments in order to deal with rising energy costs.

55% of firms are planning an energy efficiency upgrade in the next year, while 49% plan to invest in renewable energy.