MONEY from Europe is helping to extend a boiler scrappage scheme to 8,000 more homes across Northern Ireland.
The extra cash will allow grants of up to £1,000 to help replace old and inefficient central heating systems with energy-saving alternatives.
The grants are available to households with an income of under £40,000 a year and with a system at least 15 years old.
More than 6,500 homes have already had new boilers installed under the scheme.
However, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said the scheme had so far failed to deliver to the people who need it most.
Social Development minister Nelson McCausland said the scheme had been “hugely successful, with on average around 600 installations a month”.
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.
The SDLP’s Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan said the last scheme had “failed to deliver”
‘”Many people are being pressurised into paying upfront before they are given the grant which is often extremely difficult,” said the Environment Minister.
“Furthermore, small businesses may be reluctant to take on the work if there are delays around money being paid.”
However, he said the scheme had “great potential”.
“I hope the Department for Social Development can now implement the scheme in a way which delivers for those who need it most,” he said.