I propose to take Questions Nos. 856, 886 and 887 together.
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.
The initial Warmer Homes Scheme budget allocation for 2019 was €24 million. However, following a mid-year capital review conducted by my Department and SEAI, the budget has been increased to €39.8 million for 2019. The budget for 2020 will be €52.8 million - a record level of funding for the scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to deliver efficiency measures in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding. The rules of the Scheme stipulate that repeat upgrade visits are not provided. This rule is in place to ensure that the available Exchequer funding provides upgrades to as many eligible homes as possible and to prioritise eligible homes that have never had any work completed under the scheme.
In 2018, the measures available under the scheme were expanded. Previously, those homes which were not suitable for cavity wall insulation could not get their walls insulated under the scheme. Since the expansion of measures, the scheme can now, in certain circumstances, provide internal or external wall insulation. This is permitting the upgrade of a wider range of property types (such as homes with solid walls) and also increases the energy savings and emissions reductions that the scheme can achieve. In addition, it will enable future fuel switching.
Demand for the scheme is extremely high, reflecting the shift to deeper measures, and is impacted by longer delivery times associated with these types of works and the available budget. The homeowners on this waiting list have never received any form of free upgrade from SEAI under the scheme.
The Climate Action Plan commits to reviewing ways to improve how current energy poverty schemes target those most in need. This review is underway and will consider the issue of revisits for additional works.