Written Answers. - House Grants.

43.

asked the Minister for the Environment in the light of the termination of the house improvement grants scheme and the consequent decreasing number of applications being processed by his Department, the reason for a time lapse of ten to 12 weeks from the date of final approval to the date of issue of cheque; and if he intends to expedite matters in this regard.

Generally, in the case of house improvement grants the average time that elapses from the date of final approval to the date of payment is about seven weeks. However, given the overall volume of payments — nearly 100,000 applications for new house grants, house improvement grants and mortgage subsidy were paid in 1987 — it is inevitable that some delays beyond the normal may arise from time to time in individual cases. This would particularly have been the case in the Christmas holiday period.

44.

asked the Minister for the Environment the reason his Department have introduced a scheme for disabled persons' new house grants, worth only £2,000, when the grant scheme as it was operated by most local authorities allowed up to £5,000 in respect of alterations to an existing building or to assist with the extra costs in building a new house; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The £2,000 new house grant is normally payable only where the applicant or his/her spouse had not previously purchased or built a house for their own occupation. An exemption from this requirement was recently introduced to allow a grant to be given where a new house was being provided to meet the needs of a disabled member of the household. In such circumstances also, the normal floor area limit of 125 square metres does not apply. The Deputy appears to be under a misapprehension about the £5,000 grant operated by the local authorities. That grant which continues to be available is confined to the adaptation of existing houses to make them suitable for the accommodation of disabled persons.