Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (181)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

181. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will report on the current level of funding provided to local authorities in respect of disability adaption grants; his views on the restrictions now placed on the provision of such grants in view of reductions in Exchequer funding for them; and if he has plans to reverse the current cuts in expenditure for this specific area of funding in budget 2014. [26296/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The requirement to reduce public expenditure to sustainable levels is impacting on capital programmes all across the public service, including my Department’s housing capital programme. The level of capital funding available has declined significantly in recent years along the lines highlighted in the Medium Term Exchequer Framework for Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016. As a result capital spending on housing programmes is subject to constraint over the short-term.

On 22 February 2013 I announced capital allocations to local authorities under the suite of Grants for Older People and People with a Disability amounting to €42.750 million. 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. This year I allocated local authorities the full amount of their contractual commitments. 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.

In order to deal with any acute or particular strain which might arise in the operation of the schemes over the course of the year I have set aside a small capital reserve. I recently approved additional allocations totalling €1.2 million for 13 local authorities. I will consider further applications from local authorities where similar difficulties arise. Allocations to local authorities next year will be considered in the context of the Estimates for 2014 and the competing demands for funding across all the measures within my Department's housing programme.