Hidden cuts of at least 20% to the grants available to homeowners under the new Better Energy scheme will lead to job losses in the sector, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Éamon Ó Cuív. The grants, due to be confirmed on Monday, will contain drastic cuts which will put serious pressure on the retrofit business.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “There has been much fanfare surrounding Minister Pat Rabbitte’s revamped national retrofit programme. But what the Minister has failed to mention is that the individual grants available to homeowners under his new Better Energy scheme are being slashed by at least 20%.
“Such a drastic cut will put serious pressure on employment in the sector, despite claims from the Minister that his Better Energy scheme will create jobs. In fact, there will be the opposite effect. I have already spoken to a number of contractors who say their customers will not go through with planned home energy saving projects now that they will have to fork out far more of the cost. For contractors, this means a loss of business, wasted money on supplies already bought and a drop in demand for future business – all of which will force them to let staff go.
“This move cannot be justified by claiming that market prices have decreased. They have not. In fact, the costs for most contractors have actually increased in the last year, due to the higher fuel prices and the increase in the global market prices for essential raw materials.
“Homeowners who are currently in the process of applying for grants are now facing a major cut in the original grant they were quoted. For example, to fit solar panels to a family home costs around €5000. Under the grant system put in place by the previous government, up to €1700 of this would have been covered by a home energy savings grant. This figure will be cut to as low as €800.
“This is yet another example of warped logic from the Fine Gael/Labour government. How can Minister Rabbitte honestly claim that his Better Energy initiative will create 2,000 jobs, when he is putting the sector under serious pressure by making it significantly less affordable for homeowners to avail of the scheme?
“The Minister must come clean on this issue. It’s time to cut through the spin and spell out exactly what cuts he is implementing and why. He must also clarify the position for people whose grant applications have not yet been fully processed. This move is already damaging the business of many contractors around the country, and they deserve urgent answers.”