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Grants for Disabled and Older People Cut by 40%

Department of Environment funding for home adaptation grants for people with disabilities and for older people have been cut by an average of 40%. Councils around the country received notification of their funding last week and details were provided to me in response to a Dáil question yesterday evening. (see details below) 

The reply reveals that Leitrim suffered the worst percentage cut of a whopping 89%, followed by Laois (76%), Sligo (72%), Galway City (68%), Donegal (66%), and Tipperary North and South (65%).

The funding is provided annually to each local authority to cover the cost of three schemes, the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme, the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability, and Housing Aid for Older Person’s Grant Scheme. All are means-tested. 

The disability schemes help with adapting the home of a person with a disability and fund such items as stair-lifts, extra railings, walk-in showers, downstair toilet facilities etc. The older persons scheme provides funding for the cost of items such as leaking roofs, replacement boilers, re-wiring, and in some cases central heating. Almost 60,000 grants have been awarded since 2008.

The effect of this level of funding cut will be devastating. With this level of funding, many Councils will simply have to turn people away in 2013, if indeed they are able to run a scheme at all.

This is the very worst form of austerity. It deprives people of assistance when they genuinely need it to make their home habitable. It drives up costs in hospitals and nursing homes as people stay longer because of unsuitable living conditions at home. The grants are paid out to tax-compliant local contractors so these cuts directly affect employment in this area meaning there will be higher welfare costs, less income tax collected, and less spending locally. Indeed, because of the nature of the schemes, most of the funding recycles back to the exchequer through income and sales taxes.

The Government’s approach to balancing the country’s books needs a serious re-think. It is just plain stupid to be cutting supports for people who genuinely require them and that act as a stimulus to the economy, while measures that draw money from the economy and don’t affect poor people, such as reducing pension tax reliefs, are postponed.

(Statement by Róisín Shortall on 8th March, 2013)



 Question No.   170    

 Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil: To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:                

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has finalised the allocations to local authorities for private housing grants for 2013; the grants schemes to be covered by these allocations; and will he provide a breakdown of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 allocations by grants scheme and by local authority..

– Róisín Shortall. 

  For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 7th March, 2013.   Ref No: 12257/13  


  Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (Ms. J. O’Sullivan)  

My Department’s involvement with the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability relates primarily to the recoupment of a proportion of local authority expenditure on the payment of individual grants. These schemes are funded by 80% recoupments available from my Department together with a 20% contribution from the resources of the local authority.   The suite of grants include three separate grant measures: the Mobility Aids Grant scheme with grants of up to €6,000, the Housing Aid for Older People scheme with grants of up to €10,500 and the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability with grants of up to €30,000, depending on household income. 
The schemes are ad ministered by the local authorities and it is a matter for each local authority to apportion the funding between the various grant measures. Allocations for 2013 in respect of these grant schemes were announced on Friday 1 March 2013 and details of these, together with   the additional information sought in relation to allocations in 2011 and 2012, are set out in the following table. 

Local Authority 2011 Allocation 2012 Allocation 2013 Allocation
North Tipperary
South Dublin
South Tipperary
Cork City
Dublin City
Galway City
Limerick City
Waterford City
Sligo Borough Council
( with   Sligo Co   Co figure for 2013)