Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has branded the cessation of home improvement works under the SEAI’s Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme as “shortsighted and potentially harmful coming into the Winter months”, citing the whole reason behind the scheme is to improve the living conditions of those with chronic respiratory condition, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Teachta Crowe has written to Minister Eamon Ryan calling on him to order the recommencement of works as a matter of urgency.

Teachta Crowe said:

“I have been contacted by a number of constituents who appealed to me to ask that Minister Eamon Ryan see sense and order that all works under the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme are recommenced and finished before Winter sets in. Some of these people have had bare concrete floors and scaffolding attached to their houses for months since works were stopped.

“The contractors pulled out in March, citing COVID concerns. That may have been a reasonable fear at the time but now these people have been left for over six months with half-finished jobs dominating their homes. Some people have even offered to move out of their homes so that works can be finished. There must be an element of common sense that the long-term risk to these people’s health outweighs short-term concerns.

“One man who contacted me is in his nineties and suffers from COPD. His windows were being replaced and now he is told that the works will not be completed and the scaffolding in a neighbour’s garden was removed this week. This means that his windows won’t be sealed, leaving the house vulnerable to the elements. With Winter setting in, that means this man will be exposed to damp and draughts which is the last thing someone with his condition needs.

“Another elderly constituent was to have her boiler upgraded as part of the scheme and is currently living in freezing conditions as the Minister and his officials dither on the resumption of the scheme.

“I can understand the policy of putting work on hold during a pandemic but delays in vital heating and retrofitting homes will have a knock-on impact on the health and wellbeing of already vulnerable people.

“These works must be recommenced and finished as a matter of priority. The evenings are already getting darker and temperatures dropping every day. The people who applied for these schemes do not deserve to be left in the dark and cold and the scheme needs to be resumed immediately.”