Outrage as housing grants slashed by 88%

Local councillors have expressed their outrage after it emerged that the allocation for the 2013 Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for Older People and People with a Disability has been slashed by an astonishing 88%.

Local councillors have expressed their outrage after it emerged that the allocation for the 2013 Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for Older People and People with a Disability has been slashed by an astonishing 88%.

Leitrim County Council had budgeted for an allocation in the region of €300,000, however the allocation notified to the Council for 2013 is just €65,953.25 and 20% of this allocation - €13,190.65 - has to come from the Council’s own resources.

This marks a massive fall from the 2012 final allocation which saw the Council budget come in at around €629,000 of which €126,000 was funded by Leitrim County Council’s own resources. At the time the Council saw an increase in its allocation through the year and there are hopes that there may be some move to secure additional funding this year, however it will definitely not be in the region of previous allocations.

In a statement to the Leitrim Observer, a spokesperson for the Council said the Local Authority had already paid out €40,400 under the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme from funds in 2013.

“We have a further €33,500 in approved applications on hands where payment requests have not been made to date. We also have a further €27,000 in applications being processed. This brings our current level of commitments for 2013 to €101,000 which exceeds our notified allocation. We have asked the Department to review this allocation and we are hopeful of a positive outcome in this regard,” acknowledged the Council spokesperson.

Last year the Council were forced to close all applications in April, except for emergency work carried out under Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme because of the high demand for funding and limited resources.

Local representatives had been delighted to hear that the scheme was being re-opened this year for applications. However it is now clear that the scheme will not be able to accept any new applications and councillors have also been told that there isn’t even funding available to finance emergency adaptation works for those coming out of hospital.

Councillors have also expressed frustration at larger applications given to neighbouring counties under the scheme and have called on the Executive to contact the Minister of State with special responsibility for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan TD.

The news has been seen as yet another blow for those with disabilities, following last weeks cuts to the Mobility Allowance Scheme and councillors have slammed the Government for continuing to target “the most vulnerable members of our society”.

They have also highlighted the negative knock-on impact of the cuts pointing out that the scheme generated valuable income for a number of local builders and contractors. “If we want to encourage jobs locally we should be increasing funding for schemes like this not cutting it,” noted one councillor.