Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (12)

Joan Collins

Question:

12. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if SEAI payments to contractors will be investigated in view of information from a company (details supplied) that payments for contracts are not being paid for up to 12 to 16 weeks after the job has been completed. [28583/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Warmer Homes Scheme provides free energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people living in or at risk of energy poverty. The scheme is delivered through a panel of contractors, appointed through a competitive tendering process. There are currently 39 contractors on the panel. Works that are completed must be audited and in some cases further inspected before SEAI can request an invoice and make a payment to the contractor. Audits are carried out by a managing agent on behalf of the SEAI.

The SEAI have informed my officials that they are aware that delays in the auditing process are currently being experienced. This is due to:

- the increased volume of homes being completed;

- the fact that many of these homes have had deeper measures implemented which require a greater depth of audit examination given the public monies involved; and

- some capacity constraints in the managing agent that carries out the audits.

The SEAI are working to address these delays. Steps taken to date include:

- introducing additional temporary resources to help manage the immediate issue;

- increased monitoring and reporting on the status of homes to be audited;

- working with the managing agent to increase their delivery speed and ensure that the homes that have been waiting the longest are audited first;

- ensuring that auditing resources are balanced across all 39 contractors to ensure that no contractor is experiencing longer wait times than others; and

- an increase in the frequency in which SEAI make payments to contractors has been implemented.

The SEAI is aware of the importance of prompt payment consistent with ensuring public monies are properly expended, and ensuring wait times for contractors are to the greatest extent possible minimised. If the measures implemented to date do not result in the required improvement in turnaround-time, further steps will be taken within the limits of the SEAI’s governance requirements and an affordable Service Level Agreement with the managing agent.