It has been confirmed that the Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has fallen flat on its face due to a lack of funds.

This development has left numerous applicants, located around the country, frustrated and angry, according to Michael Fitzmaurice TD.

Having highlighted the issue of a lack of available funds to the SEAI at the beginning of this month, Fitzmaurice was hugely disappointed to hear confirmation that applicants which hadn’t received a letter of offer will now be “put on hold”.

Commenting on the matter, the Roscommon-Galway representative said: “The SEAI and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment now intend to ‘review’ the pilot scheme.

“However, some service providers claim that less than half of the original budget – in the region of €7 million – allocated to the pilot for 2019 was awarded to just over 10 applications.

“This means that in the region of 50 applications – each including 5 homes – have been left high and dry, with little or no prospect of a similar scheme opening for a number of months.

“It is unbelievable that this Government would leave these genuine people in the lurch like this, especially when it bragged about aiming to retrofit 500,000 homes with insulation by 2030 as part of its much-acclaimed Climate Action Plan.

“As it stands, the review of the pilot is likely to extend well into 2020 with little prospect of a new scheme being rolled out until 2021 at the earliest, according to service providers.

“And applicants who have put on an indefinite hold have been further insulted by being informed that they may not even be reconsidered for funding once the review is complete.”

Widespread frustration

This development has led to widespread frustration and anger among applicants, service providers and contractors alike, Fitzmaurice noted.

“In order to complete the works by the end of this year, some applicants had tentatively began works before getting formal approval. They have now been abandoned by this Government as a result of the funding seemingly being pulled from this pot.

“While it is all good and well for this Government and the various departments to make grand announcements about schemes, it must follow through. Otherwise it just strengthens its growing reputation as a Government which makes empty promises.

“All of the stakeholders are rightfully wondering where the original allocation of funding for this scheme has disappeared to?

“The Minister for Climate Action, Richard Bruton, is quoted in the media as saying – as recently as June – that he allocated €7 million to the scheme and that €1 million had been paid out in grants by the end of May this year.

“So where is the rest of the budget? Has it been fully allocated? Minister Bruton needs to emerge into the daylight and clearly clarify where applicants stand?

“Otherwise, this fiasco will serve to be another nail the electorate will use to drive into Fine Gael’s coffin when the time comes to cast their votes in the ballot box.”

Implications

The Roscommon-Galway TD also noted that pulling funding for this scheme will have implications for contractors as well as home owners.

“The Department must also realise that by discontinuing this scheme until 2021, the work that service providers and contractors have put in to ensure that tradesmen have the right accreditation and training to carry out these projects will be lost.

“If and when a new scheme does come online, we will have to start from ground zero again.

“Certified and competent contractors are there at the moment, ready to work. But this Government has proven once again that it can’t back up its promises. Where are the PR teams and spin doctors that are unleashed when schemes such as this are announced now?

“Minister Bruton needs to clarify exactly where applicants currently stand and to allocate funds to a new scheme as a matter of urgency. People cannot afford to wait until 2021 for a new scheme to be established,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

 

Michael Fitzmaurice TD – 086-1914565

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