Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (87)

Róisín Shortall


87. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the action he is taking to ensure that adequate funding is provided to local authorities to deal with the demand for the housing aid for older persons scheme, the mobility aids housing grant scheme and the housing adaptation grant for persons with a disability; and if he will outline any eligibility and or benefit changes that will be made to these schemes in 2013. [12777/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have referred earlier to the challenges we face in delivering on housing need and the rationale used in apportioning the housing capital budget across the various measures under my Department’s housing programme for 2013. None of these important measures, whether it is the regeneration of seriously disadvantaged communities, the provision of special needs accommodation, retrofitting of older houses or the adaptation or improvement of private houses, can be stood down. My objective is to ensure that our scarce resources are used to best effect in areas where need is most acute.

This year I am allocating 12.4% of the housing budget, some €34.2 million in all, to the grant schemes compared to 13.2% in 2012. I n allocating the available funding across all 34 city and county councils I did so in as transparent and as fair a way as possible. This year’s allocations give first priority to those people who have already been approved for grants. This accounts for some €18 million of the €34.2 million available to me. After setting aside a contingency figure of around €2 million, I allocated the balance on the basis of each authority’s share of the applications on hand in January 2013. I believe this is a fair way of apportioning the funding. In the event that particular difficulties may arise in some local authorities in the course of 2013, I will use the reserve I have held to consider applications from local authorities for a supplementary allocation once the initial allocation has been exhausted.

I am currently reviewing the way the grant schemes are structured with a view to achieving more with the budget we have 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. My intention is that the new grant structure will apply from 2014 onwards.