Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has called on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) to take an active interest in the effectiveness and delivery of the €8 billion National Retrofit Plan.
A member of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Munster challenged DPER officials on the delivery of the scheme to date and its failure to prioritise some of those most in need, and for whom it could have the greatest impact.
Teachta Munster said:
“Significant concern exists among members of the PAC as to whether the National Retrofit Plan is fit-for-purpose and will represent value for money for the taxpayer.
“At the heart of the matter, my primary concern is that it actively de-prioritises many of those of greatest need through strict eligibility criteria, as well as a lack of supports for those unable to assume the burden of upfront costs.
“Those who avail of deep retrofits have access to a full suite of measures supported via the state grant, but also crucially will in the future be able to fund their own contribution through state backed low-interest loans.
“The approach for those who cannot afford to complete a full retrofit at one time is the complete opposite – they have access to fewer measures, and must assume 100% of the costs upfront, effectively receiving their support via a rebate.
“Against this backdrop, it will be of concern to the Committee that in recent weeks it has been reported that 0 deep retrofits have been completed by August of this year.
“Retrofitting is of course a crucial tool in meeting our climate obligations – my concern is that this €8 billion plan is not being implemented in an effective manner.
“Today at the PAC I challenged DPER on their oversight of these schemes and I remain concerned that they, rightly convinced that retrofitting serves a positive purpose in principle, are disinterested in expenditure outside that broad context.
“By 2025 €1.342 billion is expected to have been spent by the state on retrofitting.
“In my view it will be far too late in the day at that point to be conducting a value-for-money review – DPER need to put in place a framework today that will ensure such reviews are carried out periodically and on an ongoing basis to ensure the efficacy of this €8 billion investment of taxpayers’ money.”