Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Questions (59)

John Lahart


59. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to increase the flexibility and grounds on which persons can apply for the warmth and well-being grant. [7266/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Warmth and Wellbeing scheme is a joint policy initiative between my Department and the Department of Health under the Healthy Ireland framework, which aims to measure the health and wellbeing impacts of improving the energy efficiency of a person’s home. I have allocated €20m to the pilot scheme under the Government’s Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty for the period 2016-18. The scheme is being delivered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Health Service Executive.

The scheme is being piloted in Community Healthcare Organisation 7 and is open to people aged 55 and over or 12 and under who are living with chronic respiratory conditions in households that are in receipt of the Fuel Allowance or the One-Parent Family Payment. Further, eligible applicants must be living in one of the pilot scheme areas - Dublin 8, 10, 12, 22 or 24.

As a pilot scheme that is 100% Exchequer funded, the resources available to the scheme are limited, and so it has targeted eligibility requirements in relation to medical and income needs. As well as needing to meet the medical, age and home location criteria, participation is limited to those deemed to be living in or at risk of energy poverty. To determine this with complete accuracy SEAI would need to know the condition of a person's home, including its energy efficiency level and heating system, that person's family circumstances and their household income level. However, it would not be practical or efficient for SEAI to perform this assessment for each applicant to the scheme. Therefore this is instead determined through the use of proxy indicators, principally the National Fuel Allowance. These proxy indicators provide an acceptable approximation that allows SEAI to identify that people are in or at risk of energy poverty without having to resort to a cumbersome, expensive and intrusive administrative regime.

An independent research project is underway to assess the impact the scheme is having. At the conclusion of the scheme, and with independent evidence on its effectiveness, the potential for a wider rollout, including extension of any application criteria will be considered.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 47.