Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (35)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

35. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will consider expanding the applicable criteria of the better energy warmer home scheme to recipients of the invalidity pension considering the long-term nature of the payment and the associated incapacities of the applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2249/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date over 142,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level.

Budget 2021 provided €109 million in capital funding to support lower income households to retrofit their homes with €100 million of this funding allocated to the Warmer Homes Scheme. This represents a €47 million increase on the 2020 allocation and is the highest ever budget for this scheme.

The scheme is currently available to households in receipt of:

- Fuel allowance under the National Fuel Scheme;

- Job Seekers Allowance for more than six months (and having children under 7);

- Family Income Supplement;

- One-Parent Family Payment;

- Domiciliary Care Allowance;

- Carer’s Allowance where you live with the person you are caring for.

The eligibility criteria for the scheme were selected as they represented the Department’s view on those areas where the limited resources available to the scheme could have the greatest impact. They are kept under ongoing review with the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to ensure they are consistent with and complementary to the other income support schemes offered by that Department.

Households in receipt of other DSP allowances, such as Invalidity Pension, may qualify for a fuel allowance payment. The fuel allowance is means tested and is therefore aligned to the income of the household. Many people in receipt of the Invalidity Pension, or others in their household, are currently in receipt of the fuel allowance, meaning they are automatically eligible for support under the Warmer Homes Scheme.

The Deputy may wish to note that there are other grants and schemes available from Government that could assist their constituent if there is an urgent need. These include the Department of Social Protection Urgent Needs Payment available through the Community Welfare Service at local DSP offices and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage Aid for Older People Grant Scheme which is administered by the Local Authorities.