Galway County Council is in desperate need of extra resources for housing adaptation grants for older people and those with a disability.
Galway TD Seán Canney said as much in the Dáil during a debate on a motion stating that the fixed price grant is no longer effective for the programme, and that applicants are facing unacceptable delays.
He said that Galway County Council lacks sufficient funding to pay out to successful applicants, and also does not have enough inspectors to avoid lengthy delays.
Deputy Canney said that the he was informed by Galway County Council that more than 1,000 applications for grants had been processed by early May.
This followed on from reporting in the Tuam Herald that the council had already run out of funding for mobility and disability aid grants.
“There are seven months of the year left to go. Where is that director of services going to get the money to fund these schemes?”
“He told me there is a rolling amount of money. He gets a fixed sum of money but he is hoping some of the grants will not be carried out or will not have to be paid out until next year and that he will be able to take the money out of the budget for next year.
“He is already borrowing from next year to try to meet the demand this year. That type of financial arrangement is not sustainable,” Seán Canney said.
He said that increased funding is needed to cope with the growing volume of applications from older people seeking to remain in their homes.
Deputy Canney also said that the fixed price for the grant is not effective any longer, with rising constructions costs.
“There is a cap of €30,000 on grants. In many cases, that amount would have been sufficient until approximately two years ago.”
“Costs have gone up since then, however, and homeowners now have to borrow to supplement the grant, yet many people with disabilities have no means of paying back such a loan”.
The motion called for increased funding for the programme, raising the upper cap on grants, and linking the level of the grant to the cost of construction works.
It passed without opposition from the government. Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton said that there were concerns about linking grants to the cost of construction, due to the “uncontrolled nature” of such a committment.
However, she said that the government was not opposing the motion, as it was aimed at “properly and rightly” keeping older people and those with a disability in their homes.
She added that the programme for government commits to increasing funding for grants, and making them more accessible.
To date, funding for housing adaptation grants has increased from €15 million in 2019, to €24 million last year, Hildegarde Naughton said.
The Housing for All plan also commits to “increasing the housing options available to older people” to keep them living independently as much as possible, she added.