Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (551)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

551. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the rate of energy poverty here; the way in which it compares to the EU average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52945/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The government is committed to taking action to tackle energy poverty. Since the publication of the Government's Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty 2016 - 2019:

- the level of energy poverty has dropped from 28% to 17.4%. This is a significant improvement.

- the proportion of people who report that they are unable to afford to keep the home adequately warm, a decrease on the 2015 figure of 9% to 4.4%

The government continued to prioritise measures to tackle energy poverty in Budget 2020. Budget 2020 announced a package of supports, to be funded from revenues arising from the increase in the carbon tax, for those on lower incomes who are most affected by the transition. An increase of €2 per week in the Fuel Allowance will be introduced in January 2020. As well as this, an additional €13million is being made available to increase the budget for the Warmer Homes scheme, which provides free upgrades to households in or at risk of energy poverty. The total budget for the scheme in 2020 will now be €52.8 million, which is a record level of funding.

An additional €20 million for the retrofitting of social housing in the Midlands was also provided. This scheme will operate in a different way to the traditional local authority retrofit scheme by focusing on upgrading much larger batches of homes in distinct, compact geographical areas and providing the opportunity for private homeowners to retrofit their homes. This will determine the savings that can be achieved through a larger scale and more structured approach to the renovation of our housing stock. It will also provide an economic stimulus for the region. The specific design of the project will be finalised by the Retrofit Taskforce which has been established to drive the achievement of the targets for retrofitting set out in the Climate Action Plan.