This week, Savills Property Agents have released findings of their BER (Building Energy Rating) awareness survey which revealed that 1 in 3 people cannot afford to retrofit their homes. As we are still conducting our own survey which will inform our pre-budget submission for 2024, we thought we would share some of our own findings on the subject so far.
We asked our own members if they have been able to avail of the Retro-Fitting Scheme with less than 3% confirming that they had successfully availed of the scheme. Out of the other 97% of respondents, 57% of people could not avail of the scheme with 40% admitting that they could not afford the scheme as the other associated costs were much too high.
When asked if members believed that the Government backed loan would help older people with retro-fitting, almost 67% answered “no”. The 33% that answered “yes” include the very small number of people who have availed of the scheme as well of those who have not yet applied or looked into the particulars of the scheme.
Only 9% of respondents have said that they plan to apply for the Government backed loan with almost 35% explaining that there is no point in applying as they cannot afford the extra costs.
With the full cost of a retrofit topping almost €80,000, the requirement to raise a minimum of half of that is proving too difficult for older people during an already arduous cost-of-living crisis. Under the Government’s €8 Billion National Retrofit Plan, 500,000 homes are aimed to be retrofitted and reach a Building Energy Rating of B2 by 2030. This is expected to be aided by a combination of SEAI grants, savings and various types of loans from banks, credit unions and building societies. However, we already know the difficulty facing older adults in acquiring a loan due to their age. That, coupled with a low-rate pension and increasing cost of living, how are older adults expected to produce the funds when their income cannot even support everyday essentials. We have heard from members who have had to give up socialising, TV and phone subscriptions, supporting a cause and even fresh nutritional meals.
We first ask Government to look at how they can financially support older adults in a more sustainable and fair way. However, there is a huge need to change their approach to the Retrofitting Scheme and look at how they can affordably upgrade the homes of older adults, people on lower incomes or those living in social housing.