The Department for Communities has launched a public consultation on proposed changes to the Affordable Warmth Scheme.
Any future changes to the Scheme will be subject to approval by an incoming Minister for the Department. The purpose of the consultation is solely to seek views on possible changes to the Scheme. These views will be made available to an incoming Minister. No changes will be made to the existing Scheme until a Minister is in place.
The Affordable Warmth Scheme aims to improve the energy efficiency of households in severe fuel poverty. To date, since it became fully operational in April 2015, it has helped more than 10,000 households.
The proposals published today for a 14 week consultation follow a review of the Scheme which was requested by the then Minister after one full year of operation to ensure that it continued to be effective in finding and helping those households most at risk of fuel poverty.
The four proposals are:-
- that one installer managing the installation of all measures to the household is the preferred delivery method;
- raising the income threshold to £23,000 for households with more than one adult and reducing it to £18,000 for all single person households;
- that Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Carer’s Allowance are not included in the calculation of income for the Affordable Warmth Scheme; and
- the removal of the additional boiler replacement criteria of a member of the household being over 65 or having a child under 16 years of age, or being in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities said: “The Department’s Affordable Warmth Scheme is central to Northern Ireland’s Fuel Poverty Strategy and is an innovative way of tackling fuel poverty. It actively identifies vulnerable people with a view to making improvements to the thermal efficiency of their home such as insulation, new boilers and windows.
“The scheme has assisted more than 10,000 households and provided them with a more comfortable and healthy home. The proposals the Department is outlining today build on the strengths of the current Scheme and put forward proposals, informed by the Review, on how it can be improved in order to ensure it continues to help some of the most vulnerable households in Northern Ireland.
“The Department would be keen to hear the views of all those interested in this important issue.”
The outcome of this consultation and EQIA Screening, including proposals for change, will be presented to a Minister in due course.
The consultation will run until 16 February 2018. The consultation can be found on the Changes to the Affordable Warmth Scheme page.
Notes to editors:
1. The consultation document ‘Changes to the Affordable Warmth Scheme’ and EQIA Screening are available on the Department’s website, along with details on how to respond. The documents can be found at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/consultations/changes-affordable-warmth-scheme
2. Responses to the consultation can be made online or sent to AWSConsultation@communities-ni.gov.uk or Oliver McHugh, Department for Communities, Level 3, Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG.
3. The Department will also be hosting a series of public events as follows:-
Tuesday 21st November, 9.30am-12.30pm – Burnavon, Cookstown;
Thursday 23rd November, 9.30am-12.30pm – NICVA, Belfast;
Friday 24th November, 9.30am-12.30pm - Canal Court Hotel, Newry;
Tuesday 28th November, 9.30am-12.30pm - Enniskillen Town Hall;
Thursday 30th November, 9.30am-12.30pm – City Hotel, Derry/Londonderry; and
Friday 1st December, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Braid, Ballymena.
4. A household in fuel poverty is defined as one that needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use and to heat its home to an adequate standard of warmth.
5. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Communities Press Office on 028 90823505 or email email@example.com. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
6. Follow us on Twitter at @CommunitiesNI