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Double Whammy for Pensioners as Key Supports are Slashed

**** Dublin City Council effectively ends home adaptation grant schemes

**** HSE suspends Fair Deal scheme for community applicants

 

Pensioners living at home in unsuitable housing conditions face a double whammy of cut backs as several key supports were slashed in the past week.

Dublin City Council has confirmed that it is effectively ending three key grant schemes for older persons and people with disabilities (see letter below). The 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. They also provide funding for the cost of items such as leaking roofs, replacement boilers, re-wiring, and in some cases central heating.

The Council says that as of today only those applicants with “the highest medical priority” will receive grant assistance from these schemes. It effectively means that hundreds of new and existing applicants who need financial help to adapt their homes won’t get it. This devastating cut has arisen as a result of the Government decision to slash the Council’s funding for these grants by more than 50%

But on top of this, the HSE has temporarily suspended the drawing down of support under the Fair Deal Scheme for people living in the community.

So pensioners who live at home and whose living conditions are no longer suitable for them are caught on both sides. On the one hand, they can’t access funding for nursing home care so they are trapped at home. On the other hand, they can’t get funding to make their home more compatible with their needs.

This is the very worst form of austerity as it hurts the economy and hurts people who genuinely need help.  It is worth noting that the grants are only paid out to tax-compliant local contractors so these cuts directly affect employment 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.

These cuts are cruel and senseless. The Government’s approach to balancing the country’s books needs a serious re-think. Older, vulnerable people should not have to take the brunt of the Government’s austerity policies.

 

 

Letter from Dublin City Council Housing and Residential Services Home Grants, Housing Maintenance Section                                                                                                                                              Block 2 Floor3,Civic Offices Wood Quay, Dublin 8   Seirbhísí Tithíochta agus Cónaithe Deontais Tithíochta, An Rannóg Cothabhála Tithíochta                                                                                                                                    Bloc 2 Urlár 1, Oifigí na Cathrach                                                                                                                               An Ché Adhmaid, Baile Átha Cliath 8 T. 222 2195 F. 01 222 2617

 

 

Dear Deputy,

As you may be aware, the total funding available to Dublin City Council for the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability, Mobility Aids Grant and Housing Aid for Older People has been reduced by over 50% to €5,050,383 for 2013.  Payments of €2,467,691 have already been made to date in 2013 under these three schemes and the value of unpaid approved grants as at 3rd April 2013 is approximately €3,458,019.  This sum of €3,458,019 may not all be spent as some applicants do not proceed with their works.

To ensure that uncommitted funds are distributed with maximum effect and to ensure that there are sufficient funds to deal with emergency cases, the following approach must now be taken.  With immediate effect applications for Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability and Mobility Aids Grant and Housing Aid for Older People Grants will only be accepted from applicants who are of the highest medical priority.  All new applications will now be screened by the Home Grants Office and only medical priority cases will be accepted.  Existing applications where approval has not already been granted have been reviewed by the Home Grants Office to identify the cases of greatest medical need and those who have not been included in the high priority category will be informed that their applications cannot be approved in the current year.  These applicants will be entitled to apply again in 2014 subject to funding and application evaluation.

It is with regret that the City Council is embarking on this course of action but in the current budgetary conditions it is left with no alternative.  Applicants will be advised that they may appeal in writing to the Home Grants Office if their application is not approved.

Yours faithfully,

Home Grants Section.