Cuts of up to 64 per cent in Budget 2012 for home insulation grants will devastate a specialised sector within the construction industry, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil deputy leader and Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who said the cuts to the grants will harm the Government’s jobs initiative which was “heavily dependent on job creation in the home energy sector”.
As of last week, grants for internal wall insulation have been slashed by 64 per cent for apartments or mid-terrace houses, and 46 per cent for semi-detached and end of terrace houses. For external wall insulation, there are cuts of 55 per cent to the grants available to homeowners in apartments or mid-terrace houses and 33 per cent for semi-detached and end of terrace homes. Grants for attic insulation have been cut by 20 per cent, as have the grants for heating controls and boiler upgrades.
According to the Sustainable Energy Authority, there are 5,800 people currently employed in this sector. Dep Ó Cuív said such workers are “completely dependent” on demands for home insulation products and services.
“As a result of the Budget 2012, these products have become significantly more expensive particularly for owners of smaller homes,” he said. “The biggest cuts are in the grants available to apartments and mid-terraced houses.”
Dep Ó Cuív said the cuts show the “Government is singling out lower income families for the greatest cuts” and that such families are those who would “most benefit from lower home heating bills as a result of better home insulation”.
However Labour councillor Niall McNelis said the Government has committed to spending €76 million on the Better Homes Scheme during 2012.
While he acknowledged that half of the grant levels have changed under the Better Energy programme, the “only significant change in funding levels is to the wall insulation part of the scheme”.
He said people will now get the level of support appropriate for the type of house they live in.
“It makes sense that people who live in a terrace house shouldn't receive the same level of support as those who live in a detached house,” he said.
He also added that those who have an application approved by SEAI prior to the changes will see their original grant offers honoured at the original levels. The changes will only affect new applications.