Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions (147)

Róisín Shortall


147. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the virtual collapse of the home adaptation grants schemes, resulting in one case where an 88 year old who has fallen down stairs, resulting in hospitalisation, cannot get grant assistance for a stair lift and many other cases where older persons with poor mobility and urinary frequency conditions cannot get grant assistance with downstairs bathroom facilities; and in view of the extra funds available to his Department for stimulus measures, if he will provide extra funding to local authorities to fund urgent cases. [29516/13]

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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. Dublin City Council applied for additional funding from this reserve and was notified of a supplementary allocation of €118,063 , bringing the Council’s overall allocation for 2013 to €5,050,383. My Department is closely monitoring expenditure across all the measures under the housing programme. I will consider allocating further funds to the grants measure in the event of any saving arising elsewhere.