Efficient boiler scheme expanded
Around 8,000 more homes are to receive a new efficient boiler in Northern Ireland, it was revealed.
Additional money from Europe will allow grants of up to £1,000 to replace inefficient central heating systems with energy-saving oil or gas burners, switching from oil to gas or to a wood pellet boiler.
It is available through the Department for Social Development (DSD) to those who earn less than £40,000 a year and have a machine at least 15 years old.
DSD minister Nelson McCausland said: "This scheme has been hugely successful, with on average around 600 installations a month. I am delighted that this additional money will see many more of those most in need benefiting."
In less than a year, more than 6,500 homes have had new boilers installed. More than 70% of those with new boilers are also on lower incomes.
The additional money from the European regional development fund will increase the number of homes likely to benefit from 16,000 to 24,000. More than 6,500 households have already had new boilers installed.
Recently appointed SDLP environment minister Mark Durkan said the scheme has so far failed to deliver for people who need it most.
"Many people are being pressurised into paying upfront before they are given the grant which is often extremely difficult. Furthermore small businesses may be reluctant to take on the work if there are delays around money being paid," he said.
"The scheme has got great potential and I hope the Department for Social Development can now implement the scheme in a way which delivers for those who need it most."