Boiler scrappage

Boiler scrappage While the rest of the UK have their own boiler replacement schemes, Northern Ireland has yet to follow suit. agendaNi examines why.

Older G-rated boilers will be replaced with A-rated ones.

Perhaps one of the few headline grabbers the early stages of planning, it is Those people who are classed as fuel-

in the Chancellor’s Pre-Budget Report in December was the introduction of the boiler scrappage scheme.

Limited to England only, it has been down to the devolved UK regions to decide whether to run similar schemes.

£400 was made available to the first 125,000 householders who registered for the support, from 18 January. That sum is to be used to help pay for a boiler upgrade for residents who currently use a G-rated boiler. That figure has already been reached and the scheme is now closed to new applicants.

Both Wales and Scotland moved quickly to establish their own schemes.

From 1 April, those aged over 60 in Wales have been able to avail of vouchers worth £500 to replace their old boilers with newer ones. A £2.5 million fund has been put on the table and Housing Minister Jane Davidson said that around 5,000 households would benefit.

The SNP’s budget, set out in February, was passed in Holyrood and included a £2 million boiler scrappage scheme for Scotland. It is anticipated that Scotland’s increase in funding through the Barnett formula would be used to pay for it. Still in

understood that the Scottish scheme will mimic that which is in place in England.

The same criticism has been levelled at all the schemes – none are aimed primarily at helping those in fuel poverty, but rather operate on a first-come first-served basis.

On 8 March, Simon Hamilton proposed a motion calling on Margaret Ritchie to consider introducing a scrappage scheme here. By his own admission, the Chair of the Social Development Committee was not wedded to any particular model.

The property consultants Savills’ report into social housing in Northern Ireland (see page 24) said that 14,000 homes did not reach the decent homes standard; 11,000 of those failed because of inefficient heating systems.

Sinn Féin’s Fra McCann, however, warned the chamber that he had been advised that companies had “superinflated prices” on the new boilers. One England-based customer, for example, had been quoted £5,012 from an energy company. Together with the government grant, and an extra £400 mark down by the company itself, the customer would still be charged £4,200.

poor, he contended, would not be able to afford the change and suggested that any scheme should be handled through the warm homes scheme. That would, he said, target the most vulnerable and would not one which would only be open to those with the financial capability.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed to agendaNi that any carry-over from England to here would mean that Housing Executive tenants would not be eligible to avail of the scheme as it only applies if the resident owns the boiler.

Another problem DUP MLA David Hilditch foresaw was that anybody over the age of 60 would be eligible for the scheme, regardless of whether their boiler works or not and warned that people with working boilers could exploit the scheme.

During the debate Margaret Ritchie confirmed that should her department introduce a scheme, it will target the more vulnerable households and “will not focus solely on reducing carbon emissions”. It is anticipated that a scrappage scheme could form part of the forthcoming revised fuel poverty strategy.

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