Call for people impacted by retrofit scheme to be compensated

Call for people impacted by retrofit scheme to be compensated

Hundreds of people left out-out-pocket due to the Government's now-scrapped environmentally-friendly retro-fitting house grant should be compensated in full for any money they have spent to date on the project.

Sinn Féin climate action spokesman, David Cullinane, is demanding that the State picks up the bill for any costs accrued by the public after it emerged that millions of euro promised for the grants system now no longer exist.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that the Government's multi-million euro grant scheme to help households across the country retrofit their homes to make them more environmentally friendly has run out of money.

The scheme, which fell under the control of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, was launched on a pilot basis in 2017 and was intended to allow the State to pay for half of any retro-fitting costs which can cost tens of thousands of euro.

However, despite Environment Minister Richard Bruton insisting as recently as early June that €6m was still available for grants - telling the Dáil on June 27 that "at the end of May €1m [of the €7m annual fund] had been paid out" - officials now say no money is available, leaving hundreds of homeowners with costly bills.

Mr Cullinane said there is a clear responsibility on the Government to ensure people affected are not "left in the lurch".

While stopping short of saying families and individuals affected by what happened should take legal action if nothing is done, he said the onus is on Environment Minister Richard Bruton to compensate victims in full for the funding flaw:

"First of all, they [people applying for the grant] should have been informed at the time, it would have been reasonable if the SEAI had said 'we are going to go back to the Department to seek extra funding, but at this point in time it isn't there'.

"The fact that wasn't communicated to them [applicants] means, I do think, the Department needs to look at supporting those families and individuals as best they can."

These people applied in good faith, they want to put their homes up to a certain standard, they were left in the lurch, contractors were left in the lurch.

"That's not the way a Government agency or Department should behave, and because of that I think they have a genuine grievance as they weren't informed that funding would dry up," he said.

The SEAI confirmed on Wednesday it was aware that funding for the scheme was running out - but continued to accept applications for grants up to the end of last month without informing the public of the financial issue.

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