Written Answers. - Disabled Person's Grant Scheme.

John McGuinness

Question:

103 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that funding under the disabled person's grant scheme is exhausted in the Kilkenny County Council area; if extra funding will now be made available to deal with the growing backlog of priority cases; the plans he has to reduce the waiting lists in each category created by the CMO, that is high, medium and low priorities; and if the scheme can be streamlined in order that one department and a lesser number of officials deal with each case. [17509/01]

Earlier this year Kilkenny County Council sought my Department's approval for the use of internal capital receipts for the purposes of the disabled person's grants scheme. The priority claim on the use of internal capital receipts is to meet the needs of the main local authority housing programme and the remedial works scheme to supplement the Exchequer funding in these areas. Accordingly it was not possible to accede to the council's request. I have asked my Department to re-examine the position in the light of the council's commitments under the local authority housing programme and the remedial works scheme, the availability of internal capital receipts and need to provide adequately for the payment of the disabled person's grant by the council.

The disabled person's grant scheme is administered by local authorities in accordance with the legal framework laid down in section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1979, and statutory regulations made under the Act. The framework laid down in the statutory regulations is, as far as practicable, designed to give an appropriate degree of flexibility to local authorities in administering the scheme.

It is a matter for the local authority to decide the staffing resources to be made available, the level of grants in individual cases and the circumstances in which a grant may be paid. It is also a matter for the authority to ensure that there are no undue delays in the processing of applications for disabled persons grants.
The regulations governing the scheme do not stipulate that authorities obtain a medical report or an occupational therapists report. Authorities generally require such reports to ensure that the most appropriate works are carried out to meet the needs of the applicant and that the potential long-term needs of the applicant are addressed having regard to their disability.
I continue to urge local authorities to operate the scheme in a flexible and responsive manner having regard to the needs of the applicants.