Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (47)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

47. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the tender process will be re-examined for the warmer homes scheme with the aim of bolstering experienced local social enterprise (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2651/21]

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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.

The scheme has evolved significantly since it was first established in 2000. The scheme was initially based on community referrals and provided simple energy improvements such as lagging jackets and draught proofing. The scheme now provides significant and complex whole home upgrades including external wall insulation and has a current work programme of over 7,000 homes.

€109 million in capital funding has been provided this year through my Department's Vote to support lower income households to retrofit their homes. €100 million of this funding is 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 delivered through a panel of suitably trained contractors, appointed following a competitive tendering process. The most recent tender process was held last year. The tender process was designed to reflect the need to deliver greater numbers of deeper upgrades to households in energy poverty, in line with Government policy. The new contract requires all contractors to be able to deliver all measures, deep and shallow. The process also included a new social considerations criterion. This criterion provided tenderers with the opportunity to demonstrate any relevant social considerations that they employ or use in the delivery of the services they provide. This could include employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged groups, disability access and promoting social inclusion.

The process resulted in a new, broader contractor panel with increased capacity to deliver more activity under the Scheme. A total of five social enterprises/community based organisations were successfully appointed to the panel. There are no plans to re-open the tender process at this time.