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Departmental Schemes

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Questions (172, 175, 198)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

172. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the measures being taken to reduce the current long wait times for surveying and commencement of works under the warmer homes scheme, free energy upgrades for eligible homes; when applications under this scheme will be open for second-time applicants given that certain works are now available that were not available on their initial uptake of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29682/21]

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Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

175. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the actions that will be taken to clear the backlog of SEAI applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29753/21]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

198. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will seek increased resources for the SEAI to improve waiting times for the warmer homes scheme; the current average wait time from initial application to works being completed; the number of persons waiting for works to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29854/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 172, 175 and 198 together.

The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date, over 143,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme and in 2020 the average value of the energy efficiency measures provided per household was over €14,800.

I have secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme. Funding for the energy poverty retrofit schemes has also increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation. In addition, delivery capacity has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020.

The scheme operates nationally on a first come first served basis. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, the average time from application to completion was approximately 18 months. The SEAI has advised me that wait times vary, based on the demand for the scheme at the time of application as well as other factors including the scale of works to be completed, access to the property, availability of materials and the weather.

The average wait times are expected to increase significantly in 2021 due to the extensive COVID-19 related restrictions on construction activity between March and June of last year as well as between January and 12 April of this year when the scheme was fully paused in line with Government guidelines.  Works under the scheme have now recommenced in line with activity in the residential construction sector.

There are nearly 8,000 homes on the Warmer Homes Scheme work programme.  These homes have not previously received any free upgrades under the scheme and for that reason are the priority to receive upgrades.  Recommendations on the implementation of changes to the scheme to better target those most in need are being developed and I anticipate that they will be finalised shortly.

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