Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
73. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the amount of grant funding paid out under the warmer homes scheme in 2020 and to date in 2021 to homeowners in County Tipperary; the amount paid for buildings which are not privately owned homes during the same period; the average waiting period for an application under the scheme; the reason for the increase in waiting time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27698/21]
The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. The scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). To date over 142,000 homes have received free upgrades leaving them better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level. The scheme is available to owner-occupied homes built before 2006 where the household is in receipt of certain Department of Social Protection payments. The following table sets out the amount of grant funding paid out under the scheme for homes in Tipperary in 2020 and to date in 2021 when the scheme was fully paused in line with COVID-19 restrictions on construction activity between January and mid-April:
|County||2020 Data €||2021 Data €|
There are currently 292 homes in Tipperary on the Warmer Homes work programme. 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 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 has now recommenced in line with activity in the residential construction sector.
The SEAI has advised me that the average wait times should only ever be used as a general guide and 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.
It is important to note that funding for the SEAI energy poverty retrofit schemes has increased to over €109 million in 2021. This is an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation and means that almost half of the total SEAI residential and community retrofit budget will support people vulnerable to energy poverty. This 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.
My colleague, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage is responsible for the local authority retrofit programme. However, funding for retrofitting local authority homes is also available under the SEAI’s community grant schemes. In 2020 Tipperary County Council received funding of €88,6324 from SEAI under this scheme.