Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (20)

Jim O'Keeffe


148 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the details of the disabled persons' grant; if there are recent changes leading to a restriction on the availability of the grant; the person who decides on the extent of the disability leading to an entitlement to qualification for the grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2693/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

Grants are available from local authorities towards making a dwelling more suitable for the accommodation of a member of the household who is either physically handicapped or suffering from severe mental handicap or mental illness. A grant of up to €20,320 or 90% of work is available in individual cases in respect of private dwellings, while the full cost of the work may be funded in the case of a local authority rented dwelling.

It is a matter for the authorities to decide on the level of funding to be provided for the scheme in their areas and to manage the operation of the scheme from within the allocations notified to them for this purpose by my Department. My Department recoups to local authorities two thirds of their expenditure on the payment of individual grants, and it is the responsibility of the authorities to fund their one third from their own resources from amounts provided for that purpose in their annual estimates of expenditure.

The framework for the operation of the scheme is laid down in statutory regulations and, as far as practicable, is designed to give an appropriate degree of flexibility to local authorities. My Department has not introduced any amendments to restrict the grant assistance available in individual cases. Decisions on eligibility for grant assistance, including those relating to the establishment of the type or level of disability involved, are a matter for decision by the local authority concerned.

A review of the scheme is being finalised in my Department at present, and on its completion I will be in a position to determine the changes, if any, required to the regulations governing the scheme to ensure that the funding available is directed at those persons in greatest need of such assistance.