I wish to raise the issue of dementia and home renovations. The recently published national dementia strategy acknowledges that most people with dementia live in their communities and wish to continue to do so. To do this they sometimes need to make adjustments to their homes and some issues arise. It is often deemed that those with dementia are unsuited to apply for a loan to fund necessary renovations in their houses and the adaptation grant is often inadequate. When a family care-giver funds adaptation renovations in the home of the person with dementia, the care-giver is unable to claim the tax back from the home renovation incentive scheme as he or she is not the home owner. In the case where the person with dementia has adequate funds to make renovations, he or she is often on a State pension and is, therefore, unable to claim the tax back. In that respect I request that the Minister review the policy to ensure that adequate financial support is given to ensure that people with dementia are enabled to remain in their homes.
Under the home improvement scheme, VAT on building work can usually be claimed back by home owners through the PAYE system. If the older person or the person with disabilities has funds to pay the cost of the building work not covered by the grant, he or she tends to be unable to claim the tax back through the home improvement scheme. This issue arises as these people tend not to pay tax through the PAYE system as they are usually unfit for work. In the case where the older person or person with a disability does not have funds to cover the cost of the building work not covered by the grant, the burden may be left to the family. If a member of the family is not the house owner, that person is ineligible to reclaim the VAT through the scheme.
I will give an example. Mrs. A has early onset dementia and her occupational therapist and the neurological team have advised that she has her house adapted. The cost of the work is €40,000, for example. Her daughter needs to live with her as the HSE provision for home help is inadequate to meet her daily needs. As her daughter works full-time, the household income of a full-time wage and Mrs. A's widow's pension decreases the percentage of works allocation through the adaptation grant. The family incur the cost of the building work which is not covered by the adaptation grant and they are ineligible to claim this money back from the home improvement scheme as they are not the home owners. Even if Mrs. A had the funds to pay for the cost not covered by the grant, she would be ineligible to claim the VAT back as she does not pay PAYE on her pension. On a separate note, the VAT payable for building works, which is not taken into consideration by the adaptation grant, which is approximately €5,000, needs to be paid to the builder before being eligible to claim it back through the aids and appliances scheme.
If the family, therefore, did not have the funds for this building, work could not take place in the first instance. These are the issues which are particularly pertinent. The home renovation scheme has worked very successfully. The Minister will agree with me on wanting to see something done for people who suffer with dementia, and we have an increasing number of such people in our society. I wonder whether the schemes can be amended in some way to meet the needs of the people to whom I have alluded.