Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Questions (118)

Mary Butler


118. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the position regarding application for a SEAI insulation grant by a person (details supplied) which was first lodged on 18 November 2019; the reason for the delay in processing this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36010/21]

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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 143,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level. The approximate average value of the energy efficiency measures provided to households under the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme was €14,800 in 2020.

A total of €221.5 million in capital funding has been provided for SEAI residential and community retrofit schemes in 2021. Of this amount, €109 million is provided to support lower income households to retrofit their homes, with €100 million allocated to the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme. This represents an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation for energy poverty schemes and means that almost half of the total SEAI residential and community retrofit budget will support people vulnerable to energy poverty. The funding will mean that more households can receive free energy efficiency upgrades making their homes warmer, healthier and cheaper to run, in line with the Programme for Government.

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. There are currently over 7,800 homes on the Warmer Homes work programme. SEAI data indicates that for homes completed in 2020, the average time from application to completion was approximately 18 months. The average wait times are expected to increase significantly in 2021 due to the extensive COVID-19 public health restrictions on construction activity in 2020 and between January and April 2021 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.

Individual applications to the Warmer Homes Scheme are an operational matter for the SEAI and as Minister I have no role in such matters. However in reference to the case raised by the Deputy, I have been informed by the SEAI that the completed application for the home in question was received on 3rd February 2020 and is currently awaiting a survey allocation.

In addition to the increased budget allocation, delivery capacity has increased due to a new, broader contractor panel that commenced at the end of 2020. I have also secured additional resources this year to expand the capacity of the SEAI to deliver the scheme.