Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Fuel Poverty

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 November 2021

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Ceisteanna (191)

Denis Naughten


191. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the steps he is taking to address fuel poverty in homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47516/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Energy poverty or fuel poverty is influenced by a person’s income, the energy efficiency of their home and the cost of the energy they use in their home and is defined as an inability to heat or power a home to an adequate degree. Analysis carried out in 2016 for the Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty found that 28% of households in Ireland could be in energy poverty i.e. would need to spend more than 10% of their income on their energy needs. Good progress has been made since the launch of the Strategy. The ESRI carried out an analysis of the number of households at risk of experiencing energy poverty in 2019 and again in 2020. This showed that the share of households needing to spend more than 10% of their income on their energy needs was 17.5% in 2020. The Survey on Income and Living Conditions supports this, indicating that the proportion of people who report that they are unable to afford to keep the home adequately warm, has fallen from 9% in 2015 to 4.9% in 2019.

Government policy to alleviate energy poverty for a number of years has focused on supplementing lower income households through the Fuel Allowance and other payments, as well as providing free energy efficiency upgrades through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland schemes and the Social Housing retrofitting programme.

Budget 2022 has allocated €202 million for residential and community retrofit next year. Over half of this (€109 million) will be used to provide free energy efficiency upgrades to households that are in, or at risk of, energy poverty. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage will invest a further €85 million as part of the Social Housing Retrofit Programme in 2022. Overall, this represents an allocation of €194 million to retrofitting homes of those most at risk of energy poverty next year - an increase of €20 million on this year’s allocation. Budget 2022 also provided for a €5 increase to the Fuel Allowance to €33 per week, or €924 per year, as well as an extension of the eligibility criteria for the payment, by the Minister for Social Protection.

Protections are also in place for customers falling into arrears on their energy bills. Under the supplier led voluntary Energy Engage Code, suppliers will not disconnect a customer who is engaging with them. Suppliers must also provide every opportunity to customers to avoid disconnection and must identify customers at risk of disconnection and encourage them to talk to them as early as possible

A review of the implementation of the Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty will be completed early next year and will inform next steps in relation to the development of a new strategy. Measures to support those least able to afford to retrofit their homes will also be included in the new National Retrofit Plan which will be published shortly.