Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Michael Moynihan has described as entirely short sighted and counterproductive the government’s approach to encouraging people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

New figures supplied to Fianna Fáil indicate that less than €10m in grants were provided under the Better Homes Scheme administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in 2014. This is a sharp reduction from 2011 when €57.6m was made available.

110,000 people had taken part in the first 3 years the scheme was in operation was available. However there has been a collapse in the number of households benefiting from the grant scheme after two separate rounds of cuts to the grants paid for activities such as wall insulation and upgrade of boilers.

Deputy Moynihan commented: “Encouraging home insulation is effective as a means of reducing energy bills and Ireland’s dependence on imported fossil fuels but also as a means of supporting employment.  In fact Ireland was developing a strong domestic industry with export potential when the government effectively pulled the rug from under the sector by slashing the available grants.

“Given the collapse in people availing of the grants, I have no doubt there has been a loss of jobs within the sector. It will also make it more difficult for Ireland to meet our retrofit and energy reduction target.

“This has been a badly though out measure. It is very much in the interests of the state to encourage as wide a take up of insulation as possible. The recent review of the scheme is an admission that the cuts made to grants were very short sighted. The Minister needs to actively market the scheme and ensure that adequate funding is in place to maximise its potential,” concluded Deputy Moynihan.