Where did the money go? Mounting anger at collapse of Deep Retrofit scheme

Galway Daily news Planning permission extended to build 113 houses in Moycullen

The government’s Deep Retrofit Pilot Scheme has come under heavy criticism for closing down due to a lack of funding only weeks after Minister Bruton said there was €6 million still available.

Galway-Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice said the collapse of the scheme has led to huge frustration among homeowners who were planning, or had already begun, retrofit works.

“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,” Michael Fitzmaurice said.

He added that it was “unbelievable that the government would leave people in the lurch like this after bragging about retrofitting half a million homes by 2030.

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

The pilot scheme was launched in 2017 to providing funding for homeowners who planned to perform retrofit works on their properties to make them more energy efficient.

People could get grants covering up to 50% of the cost of a deep retrofit project, the total costs of which could run well over €100,000.

Minister Richard said that €7 million was made available for the scheme this year, and said that by the end of May €1 million had been paid out in grants.

However on Tuesday applicants were told that there was no money left and that all open applications were being suspended.

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

The SEAI said that of the applications received by the closing date, funding had been guaranteed for 55 projects covering 350 homes.

But According to Deputy Fitzmaurice, some service providers are saying that as much as half of that €7 million budget was spent on just ten 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.”

The SEAI and Department of Climate Action will be carrying out a review of the pilot next year, with concerns raised that there’s little prospect of a new scheme starting up until 2021.

Michael Fitzmaurice also warned that pulling funding for this scheme will have implications for contractors and energy workers 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.”

“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.