Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has said that the government cannot keep throwing good money after bad at a deeply inequitable retrofit plan and must bring forward reforms to open up retrofits to those who are excluded.
The Meath East TD said:
“The government had a perfect opportunity today to address the gaping holes in their retrofit plan.
“The current schemes are bypassing the coldest, poorest homes and prioritising those with means over those in need.
“Unfortunately, instead of changing tack in Budget 2023, the government decided to double down on their unfair approach which is excluding a huge cohort of households; those people who don’t qualify for free upgrades, but also don’t have the significant cash reserves needed for a deep retrofit.
“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget showed these schemes can be reformed to better target funding and resources at those most in need, and to open up retrofits to those currently excluded.
“We proposed replacing the Better Energy Warmer Homes with a new scheme for low- and middle-income households.
“This scheme would see free home energy upgrades for currently eligible social welfare recipients continue, but also introduce tiered grant support ranging from 65% to 100% funded deep retrofits for low- and middle-income households, dependent on income. This would make retrofits a realistic option for those who remain locked out of the government schemes.
“We also called for increased funding for solar PV and for a dedicated €50m retrofit scheme for solid fuel houses to help these predominantly rural homes transition to greener heating systems.
“Instead of following a progressive approach like this, the government opted for a punitive tactic and decided to again hike the carbon tax on those who rely on coal and briquettes for heating. It’s the completely wrong approach.
“We also called for the fast-tracking of shallow retrofits to help people this winter, but no such proposals were announced today. We need to get funding for shallow retrofits out to people as quickly as possible to help with energy bills this winter. 100% grants for attic and wall insulation and reducing the administrative burden needs to form part of this plan.
“The government needs to recognise their retrofit plans are deeply inequitable and bring forward changes to open up retrofits to those most in need of them.”