What is the Affordable Warmth Scheme?
The Affordable Warmth Scheme is the Department for Communities’ new Scheme for addressing fuel poverty in the Private Sector. It is being delivered across Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department by the Housing Executive and the local Councils.
Who is Eligible for Assistance?
If you own your own home and occupy it as your sole or main residence, or if you rent from a Private Sector landlord, and have a total gross annual household income of less than £20,000, you may be entitled to help under the Scheme.
How do You apply?
This is a targeted Scheme. The Department has provided the Council with information detailing the main fuel poverty concentrations within the Borough. If households are within a targeted area, Council staff will:
- make the initial contact with households and invite them to complete a short survey;
- refer completed surveys to the Housing Executive; and
- where a householder agrees, refer their details to the Social Security Agency’s ‘Make the Call’ team for a Benefit Entitlement Check to be completed.
You may also contact the Affordable Warmth Team at 0300 013 3333 to see if you are eligible for assistance.
What Help is Available?
There is a range of energy efficiency measures available under the Affordable Warmth Scheme. The provision of measures will be prioritised to maximise the energy efficiency gains from the measures provided.
Priority 1 – Insulation/Ventilation
- Installation or topping up of Loft Insulation to 275mm;
- Roof/Loft/Eaves ventilation;
- Provision of hot water cylinder jacket;
- Installation of cavity wall insulation;
- Removal and replacement of ineffective cavity wall insulation.
Priority 2 – Heating
- Provision of natural gas or oil central heating where no central heating exists; conversion of solid fuel/LPG/economy 7 to natural gas or oil (natural gas is the preferred option where it is available);
- Conversion of economy 7 to high efficiency electrical storage system;
- Boiler replacement/system upgrade for householders over 65, or who have a child under 16 years of age, or who receive disability living allowance and where an existing central heating boiler is at least 15 years old;
Priority 3 – Windows
- Replacement of single glazed windows;
- Repair or replacement of double glazed windows that are defective;
- Draught proofing.
Priority 4 – Solid Wall Measures
- Provision of solid wall (internal/external) insulation.
Your house will be inspected first of all to determine if any insulation measures are required. Then the inspection will consider if the existing heating in your house needs to be changed.
You will only be offered help to repair/upgrade windows once it has been determined that your home does not need any insulation or heating measures. However, due to the cost of insulating solid wall properties, you will be permitted to complete other measures such as heating without having to complete solid wall insulation first.
If you are offered the opportunity to install measures from more than one priority group, you should complete all the measures. If you do not complete all the measures identified on the Schedule of Works, you will be paid the sum of money allocated for the measures you have completed. Allocated funding is not transferable between priorities.
No action will be taken against a householder who completes a lesser priority without completing work identified under a higher priority, as there will still be an improvement to the thermal efficiency of the property. However, the portion of grant allocated to the higher priority work will be forfeited.
If insulation and heating measures combine to exceed the grant maximum, the applicant contribution must be paid towards the cost of the heating solution – the insulation measures must be prioritised.
How Do I Know What Work I Can Do?
When Housing Executive officers visit you, they will carry out an inspection to assess what energy efficiency measures your home needs. They will also need to see documentary proof that you own your home and that your income is less than £20,000 per year.
After that visit, and if you are entitled to help under the Scheme, you will be given a Schedule of Works which will identify the measures you are permitted to install along with a formal certificate of approval to start the works. You may not carry out any works without that approval.
Who Can Do the Work?
You can appoint your own contractor to carry out the work. If you do not know anybody who can do the work, the Housing Executive will be able to help you find someone.
How Much Money Can You Get?
The grant limit in the Affordable Warmth Scheme is £7,500. However, where the property is of solid wall construction and solid wall insulation measures are to be provided, the grant limit will increase to £10,000. Where the cost of providing measures exceeds the grant limit, you will still be able to avail of measures up to the grant limit and can contribute the balance of the costs.
Private Sector Tenants
If you rent your property from a private landlord, your landlord must:
- agree to the measures being installed in the property;
- be registered with the Department’s Landlord Registration Scheme; and
- make a contribution of 50% of the total cost of energy efficiency improvements to their property. Where works exceed the grant limit, the maximum payable will not exceed 50% of the grant limit.