I propose to take Questions Nos. 75, 76 and 227 together.
Under the Disabled Persons Grants Scheme (DPG’s), my Department provides funding to local authorities for adaptations and extensions to the existing social housing stock to meet the needs of local authority tenants.
This scheme is also used to provide funding to local authorities for Improvement Works In Lieu (IWIL’s) to enable them to repair, improve or extend privately owned houses that are occupied or intended to be occupied by approved housing applicants, as an alternative to the provision of local authority housing. This allows people to remain in private housing while their housing need is met without increasing the strain on current social housing stock and also reduces the numbers of persons who might otherwise find themselves homeless.
Exchequer funding meets 90% of the cost of DPG's/DPG Extensions and IWIL's, with the local authority providing the remaining 10%. While my Department has responsibility for setting the policy for this scheme, local authorities have delegated authority in respect of the use of the funding and they prioritise allocations based on need.
Funding recouped to local authorities by my Department has steadily increased in recent years, from over €7m in 2013, to over €13m last year, when improvements in over 1,300 homes were supported. Over 1,000 homes were improved or adapted in 2016; my Department did not compile central data on the number of units improved or adapted prior to 2016. The utilisation of allocated funding and managing needs, including waiting times, is a matter for individual local authorities.
Local authorities have submitted to my Department details of their work proposals and related funding requirements for this scheme in 2018. These proposals have now been evaluated and funding allocations will be confirmed to the local authorities shortly. In order to ensure that there were no delays for priority and urgent cases, all local authorities were advised that they may undertake works of up to 65% of their 2017 allocation in advance of the notification of their 2018 allocation. This allowed them to plan and progress works under the scheme and allows for the full utilisation of the 2018 allocation throughout the year.
It is open to local authorities to seek additional funding over and above this initial allocation and such requests will be facilitated where funding availability allows. I welcome the efforts being made by all local authorities to improve the quality of life for those with disabilities and those affected by over-crowding. These works will greatly improve the housing conditions for our older tenants and those living with disabilities and addresses issues of overcrowding in existing social housing stock. Improvement works on private homes in lieu of social housing will also provide an alternative for those currently experiencing overcrowding in private accommodation.