Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (948, 949)

Mary Butler

Question:

948. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost of restoring the housing aid for older people scheme budget to 2010 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23645/19]

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Mary Butler

Question:

949. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost of reversing the changes to criteria introduced to the housing aid scheme in January 2014 to ensure better access to grants for disadvantaged older persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23646/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 948 and 949 together.

My Department provides funding under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, in respect of private houses. There are three separate grants available, including the Housing Aid for Older People grant. Funding of €71.25 million was allocated for the three grants in 2019, with responsibility for the apportionment between them being a matter for each local authority.  Any increase in funding would have to be considered in the context of the full suite of grants. An additional €28.38 million would be required to restore the funding for the three grants to 2010 levels.

The terms and conditions governing the grants were examined in 2013 by a review group that included representatives of grant beneficiaries and the local authorities. They considered how the benefits of the grants could be spread as widely as possible and to achieve fairness and value for money in the grants process. Arising from the recommendations of the review group, the income requirements, eligibility and maximum grant were revised in 2014 to focus the grants towards those with the greatest need. It is not possible to predict the number of potential new applications that fall outside the new criteria introduced in 2014, and therefore my Department is not in a position to furnish an estimate of the cost of reversing these policies.

I am conscious of the benefit accruing from these grants, particularly in terms of facilitating older people and people with a disability, to remain living independently in their own homes.  This is recognised in the Programme for Government and as a consequence, funding has been increasing year on year since 2014.  As part of the annual budgetary process, consideration will be given in future years to increasing further the funding for these grants in line with both Rebuilding Ireland and the Government's Policy Statement on Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, which is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/housingoptionsforanageingpopulationeng_web.pdf.