The matter I wish to raise relates to the provision of water and sewerage facilities in dwellings which do not have such facilities at present. While they can be provided under the housing aid for the elderly scheme, an allocation of £4 million is rather small when spread throughout the country. Grants for the disabled covers such works but the county council essential repairs service does not.
It is a disgrace that in 1996 some houses do not have basic water and sewerage facilities. While most council houses have such facilities many old age pensioners in private houses do not. Will the Department provide grants for the installation of such facilities? The reconstruction grant, which was approximately £1,000 per household, was abolished a few years ago. The housing aid for the elderly scheme is operated by the health boards and work is carried out by FÁS.
This is the best value for money scheme that has operated in my constituency in my political career. In 1994 the North Eastern Health Board received £312,000 for counties Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath and 736 jobs were completed. In 1995 it received £303,000 and 844 jobs, which consisted of draught proofing, fitting windows and doors, replacing slates, painting and so on, were carried out. Due to a backlog of other work, it is difficult for the health board to devote sufficient funding for the provision of water and sewerage facilities. In 1994 the allocation for the Cavan-Monaghan community care area was £123,000 and 241 jobs were completed, at an average cost of £500 per job. Running water was provided in 21 houses, toilet facilities in 33 and baths and showers in 21. Surely that is value for money. In 1995, 208 jobs were completed with a water supply provided in 16 houses, toilet facilities in 22 and baths and showers in 24.
A different system is operated in County Meath. In 1994, 372 jobs were completed in County Louth at an average cost of £300 per job. Water facilities were provided in seven houses, toilet facilities in 31 and septic tanks in the case of 12. Some group water schemes have provided cheap water connections for old people with scarce resources. Fibreglass septic tanks are easier to install than the older models.
If additional resources were allocated to the housing aid for the elderly scheme these facilities could be provided. I am not raising this matter merely because I am in Opposition: I raised it on many occasions when my party was in power and I have strong feelings about it. Under the programme, A Government of Renewal, all local authority housing must be administered by the local authority. A survey should be carried out to determine the number of houses requiring such facilities and the necessary resources should be provided.