Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (120, 125, 405, 416)

Brian Stanley


120. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown in tabular form for each local authority indicating the allocation of funding in 2012 and 2013 for housing grants for elderly and disabled persons. [12819/13]

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Micheál Martin


125. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the measures he is reviewing in respect of private housing grants; the timeframe for the changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12684/13]

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Barry Cowen


405. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown by county of funding provided for the housing aid for elderly persons scheme and the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability in 2012 and 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12617/13]

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Seán Fleming


416. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide in tabular form the allocation of funding to each local authority for 2012 and 2013 in respect of housing adaptation grants, housing aid for older people and mobility aids grants scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12930/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120, 125, 405 and 416 together.

I am keenly aware of the challenges we face in delivering housing supports to a range of vulnerable households and groups. The difficulties facing the State’s finances and the necessity to reduce public expenditure to sustainable levels are impacting on capital programmes all across the public service. My Department’s housing programme is no exception. The level of capital funding available has decreased significantly in recent years along the lines highlighted in the Medium Term Exchequer Framework for Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016. Regrettably these steps are necessary to bring stability to the public finances. As a result, capital spending on housing programmes in 2013 is down on last year.

Reduced capital budgets inevitably give rise to difficult choices and decisions in allocating the available funding. This means balancing a dwindling capital budget across a range of important areas, and spreading those scarce resources in a way that meets the needs of those concerned as best we can. In addition to the Private House Grants, the capital budget needs to cover regeneration, improvements, energy retrofitting of the social housing stock and meeting the needs of older people and people in social housing with disabilities. For this I have allocated €167m in 2013.

This year I am allocating 12.4% of the housing budget, some €34.2 million, to the grant schemes compared to 13.2% in 2012. In allocating the available funding across all 34 city and county councils, I did so in as transparent and as fair a way as possible. In framing the 2013 allocations my Department wrote to each Local Authority requesting details of the numbers and value of grants where work had been approved to commence. Between them, local authorities reported contractual commitments in respect of approved grants totalling €18 million. Local authorities were always encouraged to maintain continuity in terms of approving and paying grants and commitments carried forward into the new financial year always had first call on the available funding. This year each authority was allocated the full amount of their contractual commitments. Only one local authority, Laois County Council, reported a zero commitment for grants approved. The balance of the available funding was allocated on the basis of each authority’s share of the new applications on hand in January 2013. I believe this is a fair way of apportioning the funding. I appreciate that this approach has resulted in lower than expected allocations for some authorities.

I accept that particular difficulties may arise in some local authorities in the course of 2013 and I have a contingency in place to deal with this. I have set aside a capital reserve of around €2 million and I will consider applications from local authorities for a supplementary allocation once the initial allocation has been exhausted. I am currently reviewing the structure of the scheme with a view to achieving more with the decreasing budget and ensuring that the maximum numbers of households are supported. My priority is to spread the benefits as widely as possible and to ensure fairness and value for money in the operation of the grant schemes. This will involve an in-depth analysis of relevant factors which impact on the demand for grants, the scope and extent of eligible works and the level of grant payments to individual applicants. My intention is that the new grant structure will apply from 2014 onwards.

The detailed information in relation to the combined Exchequer plus local authority own resources allocations for the years 2012 – 2013 is set out in the following table:

Local Authority

2012 Allocation

2013 Allocation


























































North Tipperary












South Dublin



South Tipperary















Cork City



Dublin City



Galway City



Limerick City



Waterford City



Sligo Borough Council


(with Sligo Co Co figure for 2013)