In October 2018, the Government approved in principle the development of a grant scheme of financial assistance to support affected homeowners in counties Donegal and Mayo to carry out the necessary remediation works to dwellings that have been damaged due to defective concrete blocks. This followed on from the work carried out by the expert panel on concrete blocks established by my Department in 2016.
Last month, agreement was reached with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to allocate €20 million to a scheme for this purpose from within the €2.4 billion housing budget for 2019. The full terms and conditions of the scheme will be finalised over the coming weeks, again in consultation with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. This process will take account of the engagement that my Department is currently having with both Donegal and Mayo County Councils on the arrangements for the scheme. On completion of this work, it is intended to revert to Government on the matter.
The ultimate costs of the scheme will be determined by the scheme's final agreed terms and conditions and will, of course, also depend on the number of applications made under the scheme and the extent of the damage to be remediated in each individual house ultimately approved for grant assistance. The €20 million earmarked for the scheme in 2019 is an initial allocation to support its early phase of operation. Funding for future years will be agreed on an annual basis as part of the normal Estimates process.
As the Deputy is aware, I have met regularly with the mica action group over the past couple of years. We have talked through this process on numerous occasions and I always explained that, similar to the pyrite scheme, there will be an initial allocation of money to get the scheme up and running and to deal with houses deserving of priority. Further money will be drawn down as the years progress. That is exactly what is happening.
Nobody is saying that €20 million will fix all the houses. We wish it would, but we know, as does the Deputy, that it will not. Every house will cost a different amount to fix based on the standard protocol and an engineer's assessment and agreement and we will work through that. The scheme will need additional funding and that is part of the process and those funds will be drawn down in the time ahead.
We are sincerely committed to this scheme. This was not just a local election issue, it was announced last October. The people with whom we dealt on a regular basis needed to know, once and for all, could a scheme be done and we told those people it could last October. They accepted it would take a little time to bring the scheme forward.