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‘If I was to pack my job in and rely on welfare I could get my house retrofitted for free’ – Working mum hits out at income limits for energy upgrades

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'If I was to get the retrofit, it would cost me €12,000 to €15,000 upfront and I don’t have that,’ says single mother of two Rebecca O’Reilly. Photo: Niall Carson

'If I was to get the retrofit, it would cost me €12,000 to €15,000 upfront and I don’t have that,’ says single mother of two Rebecca O’Reilly. Photo: Niall Carson

'If I was to get the retrofit, it would cost me €12,000 to €15,000 upfront and I don’t have that,’ says single mother of two Rebecca O’Reilly. Photo: Niall Carson

A mother-of-two from Dublin has criticised the Government for not raising the threshold for retrofitting grants far enough as part of its Budget 2023 measures.

Rebecca O’Reilly wants to retrofit her home in Ballyfermot to make it more energy-efficient.

She works full time but despite being on a lower income, Ms O’Reilly would be forced to pay a prohibitive fee of €15,000 upfront if she wants to make the necessary changes to her home.

Ms O’Reilly, a single mother to a six-year-old and three-year-old, can access grants to cover up to 51pc of the cost of a deep retrofit but said she cannot afford to pay the upfront fees.

“My house is old and so it’s not the best in the sense of retaining heat,” she said. “In the winter, it can get really cold in the house.

"So I thought I would look into the retrofitting and see what the grants are and if they could maybe help.

“To get a free-of-charge grant you have to be on social welfare payments, which I don’t receive.

“If I was to get the retrofit, it would cost me €12,000 to €15,000 upfront.

“The bottom line is if I wanted to get anything retrofitted in my house to help with efficiency and energy and get rid of the mould in the house, I’d have to have between €12,000 and €15,000, which is not something that I have.

“It’s unfortunate because I’m trying to do things the right way; I’m working full time and trying to show my kids it’s good to be out there working and not having to rely on social welfare.

“If I was to pack my job in and just rely on the Government, then I can get the house retrofitted, which just seems a bit backwards in my opinion.

“I find that these grants are always helping either those on a very low income or those on full social welfare support.

"Then there are people that can afford it because they are on a higher-end salary and then there are those in the middle ground, where there’s no help.

“I am on the lower middle where I am just over that threshold.

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“If I reduced my hours and got social welfare then I could get the grant but then I wouldn’t have as much money coming in to the house.

“You try and do things the right way. There’s also an attitude of a single parent taking money from the Government. I want to get it up to an A or B rating because at the moment, when I knock the heating off, it’s cold after half an hour.

"If the house was efficient, it would hold the heat.

“The payment up front is just not feasible,” she said.

"The grant is brilliant but it’s only helping people who have that kind of money up front. It’s not helping the people who really need it.

“I am dreading winter and the bills. With Christmas and everything else, if I didn’t have my family’s support, it would be very difficult but I shouldn’t have to rely on them.”

Ms O’Reilly welcomed the 25pc reduction in childcare fees.

“That will definitely benefit me. My youngest child is in creche and my daughter goes to to a homework club, which is a separate cost.

“The free books is obviously another saving that will benefit me for the start back to school.

"I only have one child going to school at the moment.

"But when the two of them go to school that will be a saving of €150 on books alone, so that makes a big difference.

“I am delighted to hear of those cuts.”


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