Newly enforced changes to rules that allow elderly and disabled people carry out work on their homes has come in for stinging criticism locally.
Politicians have questioned the decision by the Department of Environment to introduce changes which is likely to make it harder for many people to qualify for home improvement grants.
Those in receipt of the housing adaptation grant for disabilities, the housing aid and the mobility aid grant are all expected to be hit.
In a marked change, assessors will now take into account the income of anyone in a household over the age of 18 for means assessment purposes while the age threshold has also raised from 60 to 66 years.
“It’s totally wrong,” said a clearly disgruntled Cllr PJ Reilly. “It’s again hitting the elderly and the most vulnerable.
“And when you look at the weather we had since mid December, it’s now that these grants are most needed.”
Not surprisingly, the announcement which was confirmed last Thursday has been denounced by leading advocacy groups.
Age Action Ireland’s Eamon Timmins said the cuts would make it harder for elderly people to stay in their own homes.
That was a worry Cllr Reilly also supported as he noted his surprise at why the planned reductions were not disclosed to councillors at a recently held annual Budget meeting.
“We had that meeting alright but it (disabilty grant cuts) wasn’t mentioned at all,” said the Fianna Fail representative.
“Yes, there was a cut in the Finance Budget, but we (councillors) didn’t know that the regulations had changed.”
Cllr Reilly was not alone in registering his distaste at the cuts.
Like his Abbeylara party running mate, Drumlish representative Cllr Martin Mulleady said he was “bulling” over the sudden changes.
“It’s high time our Fine Gael councillors stand up and be counted on this for once,” he snapped.
“I think it’s a terrible decision, I really do and they (government) have to be hit and hit hard on this.”
An estimated 10,000 families receive funding from three State schemes each year in order to make their houses more accessible, safer and warmer.
Under the new rules, grants look primed to drop by up to €2,500 per year with 60-65 year olds also being excluded from the Housing Aid for Older People scheme.