Written Answers. - Disabled Persons Grant Scheme.
Minister for the Environment and Local Government
if he will streamline the disabled persons grant scheme and remove any complexities from the present scheme; and if he will increase the funding available.
The regulations underlying the disabled persons grant scheme are as far as practicable, designed to give an appropriate degree of flexibility to local authorities in administering the scheme.
Within broad overall guidelines set by my Department, it is a matter for each local authority to set the general criteria which they apply to the administration of the scheme, to assess the circumstances of each individual applicant, to decide what works are necessary for the accommodation of the disabled person or persons, to determine the level of grants in individual cases and the circumstances in which a grant may be paid and to ensure that there are no undue delays in the processing of applications for the disabled persons grant.
My Department's funding of the disabled persons grant scheme relates to the recoupment of up to two thirds of local authority expenditure on the payment of individual grants. The grant scheme is also funded at local authority level from the authorities own resources and within the amounts included for that purpose in the local authorities own estimates of expenditure.
It is a matter for each local authority to decide the level of funding to be provided for the scheme in their area from within overall allocations from my Department for house purchase and improvement loans, disabled persons and essential repairs grants. While it is open to a local authority to seek a higher allocation in the event of increased demand under the scheme, an increased capital allocation would not, of itself, allow increased expenditure by a local authority without a corresponding upward revision of the authority's own estimates of expenditure.
In recent years, the amount of recoupment payable by my Department to local authorities has increased significantly under this scheme. Prior to 2 December 1998, local authorities were recouped 50% of each disabled persons grant paid up to a maximum of €5,079 in each case. Since that date two-thirds of the amount of grant paid is recouped, up to a current maximum recoupment of €13,547 in each case. My Department will continue to keep the terms and conditions of the scheme under review.