February 8, 2022
New retrofit plan leaves renters and those on low incomes behind – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, this evening reacted to the new national retrofit plan announced by the Government.

Teachta O’Rourke said this plan will particularly benefit people with means, while working families who are struggling to get by will be encouraged to take on more debt if they want a warm house. Renters and those on low incomes will be left behind.

The Meath East TD said:

“While a plan to retrofit more homes is of course welcome, we have been here before.

“The Government’s new plan has an old feel about it. It reheats the 2019 target of 500,000 deep retrofits and 400,000 heat pumps by 2030, and directs a majority of state supports to those with private means.

“The delivery of retrofits to date has been very slow. Despite this, the new plan kicks most of the work into the latter half of the decade, while prioritising ‘ability to pay’ over ‘need’.

“Under this plan people who have €25,000 on hand, for example, will be able to get up to €25,000 in grants, funded by ever-increasing carbon taxes. Meanwhile, for working families who are struggling to get by, the Government’s answer is to take on more debt.

“Taxpayer-funded grants should, instead, be targeted to provide financial assistance to those who really need help paying for energy upgrades – those least well off in the coldest homes. Sinn Féin allocated €75m more than the Government in our Alternative Budget 2022 to achieve just that. The Warmer Home Scheme is under-resourced. The Local Authority Scheme is under-resourced.

“Similarly, the Government’s plan is silent on renters. Many tenants are living in cold, poorly-insulated homes, and despite paying high rents, their landlord won’t invest in energy efficiency, leaving them with huge bills each month.

“There is nothing in this plan to address this – no incentives for landlords to make energy efficient changes, and for those that do – no additional protection for renters from eviction.

“While it is welcome that the SEAI’s ‘no second visit’ rule is to be removed and a step-by-step scheme of small works will be supported, it raises the serious concern that we will have a 3-track programme: 1) Grants and immediate work for those who are able to pay, 2) delayed works for those in Local Authority housing or on the Warmer Homes Scheme and 3) minor works or no works at all for renters and those on low incomes. This has the potential to be deeply regressive.”

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