I propose to take Questions Nos. 1534 and 1535 together.
My Department provides funding on an annual basis under the Disabled Persons Grants (DPGs) scheme to local authorities for adaptations and extensions to the existing social housing stock to meet the needs of local authority tenants. The scheme applies to works that are necessary to address the needs of older people or people with a disability. This may involve minor adaptations such as stair-lifts, grabs -rails, showers, wet-rooms, ramps etc. It also provides funding for more major adaptations such as extensions, for example in the case of overcrowding, the installation of a downstairs bedroom or bathroom.
In line with previous years, all local authorities, including Limerick City Council, were asked to submit details of their work proposals and related funding requirements for this year, in early 2019. The local authority returns have been evaluated and the final funding allocations for 2019 will be issuing shortly.
In the interim and in advance of formal notification of their 2019 funding, to remove any impediment to the undertaking of works, local authorities were advised in early 2019 to proceed with works of up to 65% of their overall 2018 allocation. Notwithstanding this, it is anticipated that the overall available envelope of funds that will be made available in 2019 for the Disabled Persons Grant will be an increase on the 2018 level. This follows on a previous increase to the 2018 budget of approximately €14 million from €12 million in 2017.
Following notification of their funding for 2019, it is a matter for each local authority to prioritise the works required under the scheme in the context of available funding and in line with the terms of the DPG scheme.
My Department will also further review 2019 allocations and funding drawdown later this year with a view to considering the allocation of additional funding should it become available. It will be open to local authorities to seek additional funding, once their allocation is fully expended and the relevant funding recouped from the Department.