Fine Gael Cllr Garry Murtagh
Cllr Garry Murtagh has welcomed the recent increase to the budget for Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability but has said these increases “do not go far enough”.
“I am calling on the support of the elected members in writing to Darragh O’Brien Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Peter Burke Minister of State for the serious consideration and the increase to the amount allocated to each available Grant,” he said at last week’s meeting of Longford County Council.
“Due to the spiralling costs and inflation of materials and labour, these Grants are no longer adequate in supporting the completion of works. In the majority of cases the applicant simply, cannot afford to carry out the necessary adaptions and repairs to their homes.
“These grants were understandably reduced by approximately 25% in 2008 due to the downturn in the economy and have not been increased, leaving the most vulnerable in our society even further behind.
“I know from representing people in North Longford and I’m aware of councillors with the same issues throughout the county that people are applying for grants and it’s fantastic that they’re there.
“In a lot of cases, there’s people applying for these grants and when they get them, they find that, with the cost of inflation and, of course, labour, it just means they’re not able to complete the work.”
The motion was promptly seconded by Cllr Martin Monaghan who said the upturn in the cost of equipment has really “ravaged” these grants.
“They cut them by 25% in 2008 because of the downturn but they haven’t really refunded that and now we’re looking at probably a 40% downturn in these grants, costwise,” he said.
“I think that the grant system has to be overhauled and looked at at national level to put it into a national framework that is attached to a national standard practice of price increases.
“I think ourselves as a council may have to write to the ministers involved in this and say we really have to go back to base one and look at these grants and look at a system where if prices go up, they go up, and if prices go down, they go down.”
Director of Services Samantha Healy confirmed that the council will write to the department with regards to the overall threshold, which is a maximum of €30,000, which didn’t see an increase when the grants were revised.
She also said the individual unit rates have been reviewed in light of the inflation.
“Across the board, unit rates have been increased to reflect inflation, so what I will do is I will get the team to circulate the revised unit rates to councillors,” she said.
An information document has also been produced to provide more information to members and to potential applicants with regards to grants, what’s covered and how grants are determined.
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