Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has welcomed the expansion of the Affordable Warmth Scheme to help cut the cost of energy bills for even more families in a new plan announced by Communities Minister and party colleague Deirdre Hargey.
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.
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.
The North Antrim MLA said:
“I gets lots of calls to my office from all over North Antrim about the warm home scheme. It is a particularly beneficial scheme for many of my constituents and I welcome the fact that now, with these changes, more people across North Antrim will benefit.
“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.
“It 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.”
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.
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 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.