Low and middle-income families at disadvantage under new retrofitting scheme - Imelda Munster TD
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has said concerns remain as to the efficacy of the government's approach to retrofitting following the appearance of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) at the Public Accounts Committee earlier today.
The SEAI, responsible for implementing the €8 billion National Retrofitting Scheme, were challenged by Teachta Munster as to whether the scheme would deliver for low and middle-income families on an equitable basis, with a number of concerns confirmed by the authority.
Teachta Munster said:
“No doubt exists as to the need and merits of a national retrofit scheme – however significant concerns have been raised as to the approach taken by government.
“Today representatives from the SEAI confirmed that those who avail of the retrofitting supports on a piecemeal basis, as opposed to progressing a deep retrofit in-full and upfront, will be disadvantaged in a number ways.
“Those who are in a position to commit to the full costs as part of a single project will not be forced to pay for the entire project upfront and seek a rebate – meaning they will pay perhaps as much as €25,000 out of pocket while the contractors process a grant application for a similar amount.
“However, a person who is unable to commit such a large amount of funds, and chooses to take the approach of getting different aspects of a retrofit completed bit by bit, as they can, will not be able to do likewise. They will have to pay the full amount upfront, and then seek a rebate for the grant equivalent.
“This in of itself seems fundamentally unfair. However, it is compounded by the fact those who take the latter approach will actually have less options available to them as to the work that can be grant-aided.
“It is telling that the Comptroller and Auditor General highlighted as a ‘key value for money’ issue ‘whether scarce Exchequer resources are being applied in ways that maximise the long-term benefits to Irish society’.
“Retrofitting has an incredibly important role to play in providing families with warmer, more comfortable homes with lower energy bills, as well as contributing towards meeting our climate obligations – the government’s plan aims to retrofit 500,000 or about 30% of all homes in the state.
“It is only fair and equitable that low and middle income earners, and those in society who can benefit the most, do."