The operation of the essential repairs grant scheme is a matter for individual local authorities and the scheme has been designed to give authorities an appropriate degree of flexibility in its administration. Within broad overall guidelines set by my Department, it is a matter for each local authority to decide the level of funding to be provided for the scheme in its area, to assess the circumstances of each individual applicant, to decide what works are necessary to prolong the useful life of the house for the occupants, to determine the level of grants in individual cases and the circumstances in which a grant may be paid.
Local authorities receive a total combined annual capital allocation from my Department in respect of the disabled persons and essential repairs grant schemes and house purchase and improvement loans. The breakdown of the allocation between the different schemes is a matter for individual authorities in the light of local circumstances. Apart from these allocations, my Department's involvement with the essential repairs grant scheme relates primarily to the recoupment of up to two thirds of local authority expenditure on the payment of individual grants. The grant scheme is funded at local authority level from the authorities' own resources and within the amounts included for the purpose in the local authorities' 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 December 1998, local authorities were recouped 50% of each essential repairs grant paid up to a maximum of €1,143 in each case. Since that date two thirds of the amount of grant paid is recouped, up to a maximum recoupment of €8,467 in each case. The amount recouped to local authorities under the scheme has increased from €764,144 in 1998 to €5,733,069 in 2001.