Plumbers merchants in Northern Ireland are likely to lose out as it appears the province is the only part of the United Kingdom not to operate a Boiler Scrappage Scheme.
A statement yesterday in the Northern Ireland Assembly, by Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie MLA indicated that there is unlikely to be a similar scheme to those operating in England, Wales and Scotland.
However, the Assembly is investigating the possibility of a scheme to reduce fuel poverty.
Ritchie’s comments came during a debate on a motion tabled by the Democratic Unionist Party’s Simon Hamilton MLA. The motion called upon Minister Ritchie to consider the introduction of a Boiler Scrappage Scheme in Northern Ireland, similar to the English one, announced in the PreBudget Report on December 9 2009.
Ritchie said: “Although I support a local boiler scrappage scheme similar to the English model, my first concern, as Minister with responsibility for the fuel poverty strategy, is the alleviation of fuel poverty in vulnerable households. I accept that improving the energy efficiency of households that have old or inefficient boilers will contribute to the alleviation of fuel poverty.
“However, any such scheme that I introduce will target vulnerable households in which people live in fuel poverty; it will not focus solely on reducing carbon emissions, as is the case with the scheme in England.
“A boiler replacement scheme should not be delivered on a first-come, first-served basis. Given the limited availability of resources in the current economic climate, I must ensure that resources are specifically targeted at those who are most in need. I have reservations about introducing a scheme that would require those on the lowest income to provide an additional £1,000, at the very least, towards the cost of installing a new and efficient boiler.
“The boiler replacement scheme that I will propose as part of the new fuel poverty strategy will not require households to make a financial contribution. I will take on board the comments made during the public consultation process in the spring.”