As part of the just transition proposals for the midlands region, budget 2020 has made provision for an additional €20 million to fund energy efficiency upgrades to local authority houses in the affected midland counties. There is €5 million in the initial tranche. This funding is in addition to the €25 million, which my Department is making available in 2020 for energy efficiency upgrades to the existing local authority housing stock nationwide.
With the additional €20 million, my Department is currently working with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the development of a targeted programme for the midlands region. My Department has also recently met the relevant local authorities in relation to this initiative, which it is envisaged will be rolled out in early 2020.
The Department's energy efficiency programme has been running since 2013. By the end of 2019, approximately 71,000 homes - or just over half of the local authority social housing stock - will have benefited from retrofit works under this programme, supported by a total spend of some €144 million. To date, the programme has largely been focused on phase 1 works, primarily attic and wall insulation. While the energy efficiency improvements arising from these works will have had an obvious positive impact in terms of fuel poverty, we expect these benefits to increase as we move on into phase 2 of the programme. Phase 2 commenced in all local authorities this year and is focusing on upgrades to the fabric of dwellings, including external wall insulation and upgrades to windows, doors and heating. That should also make a significant difference.