Minister Hargey announces improvements to the Affordable Warmth eligibility criteria

Date published: 09 June 2021

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey today announced changes to the Affordable Warmth Scheme eligibility criteria in order to help more households who are in fuel poverty.

Minister Hargey announces improvements to the Affordable Warmth eligibility criteria
Minister Hargey announces improvements to the Affordable Warmth eligibility criteria

The changes are:-

  • Increasing the income threshold from £20,000 to £23,000 and;
  • Dis-applying of certain benefits from the calculation of income; namely Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Carer’s Allowance and Attendance Allowance. 

Minister Hargey said:

“Since the inception of the Affordable Warmth Scheme in September 2014, over £85m has been invested to improve energy efficiency for more than 19,500 low income households. 

“I have approved changes to the eligibility criteria for the Affordable Warmth Scheme so that more households in need can access the support available through this innovative scheme.

“The changes will increase the income threshold and importantly will exclude some benefits from that income calculation.”

The Minister concluded:

“I am committed to helping homes most in need of energy efficiency improvements and I hope these changes to the Scheme criteria will help more low income households, particularly those homes occupied by people with disabilities.”

The Affordable Warmth Scheme is the Executive’s main Scheme to target and assist low income owner-occupiers and householders who rent their home from a private landlord who are most at risk of fuel poverty.

The Scheme offers a range of energy efficiency improvement measures including loft, cavity and solid wall insulation, new and replacement heating systems and replacement windows where appropriate.  It is a targeted scheme where local councils actively identify the most vulnerable households who can then benefit from improvements.

The Department has laid a Statutory Rule in the Assembly today, meaning the changes should be effective from 1 July 2021.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Department has laid an SL5 - Statutory Rule: The Domestic Energy Efficiency Grants (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 in the Assembly today.  The Rule is subject to the negative resolution procedure. Pending a positive outcome, the 2021 Amendment Regulations will come into operation on 1 July 2021. 
  2. Fuel Poverty is defined as needing to spend more than 10% of the total household income on all fuel use to maintain a satisfactory level of heating, that is, 21ºC in the living room and 18ºC in other occupied rooms. It is generally caused by a combination of three factors: poor household energy efficiency; low income; and fuel costs.
  3. The Affordable Warmth Scheme is primarily a targeted scheme aimed at Homeowners and Private Renters most likely to be in severe to extreme Fuel Poverty and offers a grant of up to £7,500 (£10,000 for solid wall measures) to improve the thermal efficiency of their homes through a range of insulation and heating measures.  The scheme is funded by the Department for Communities and delivered in partnership with the Housing Executive, local Councils and a range of local installers. 
  4. Media enquiries to the DfC Press Office
  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow us on Twitter @CommunitiesNI

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