Longford-Westmeath Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, has announced an increased level of funding to provide home adaptations for older people and those living with disability and mobility issues within County Westmeath.
“These grants are important as they help our older citizens and those with disabilities and mobility issues to remain living independently in their own homes for longer should they wish and will also facilitate early return from hospital.
“I saw first-hand as a Councillor the difference they make to many households across the county, and I am happy as Minister to secure an increase in the funding, which will see more houses in Westmeath receiving upgrades.
“The grants are 80 percdent funded from the exchequer by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with 20 percent funding from the relevant local authority.
“Westmeath County Council will receive a combined total of €1.4 million to support people in the county with the repairs and other adaptations they need to live in their homes, which is most welcome.
“Grants of up to €30,000 are available to help people with a disability in carrying out works required to make a house more suitable for their needs, up to €8,000 to assist older people to have necessary repairs or improvements carried out and up to €6,000 for mobility aids.
“These grants can help create employment opportunities for builders and businesses and help reduce the dependency on our health services by supporting independent living for as long as possible.
“While the current shutdown in construction activity remains in place, people should know that housing adaptation works can continue with the consent of the homeowner and once public health guidelines are adhered to.”
“I am pleased that funding for our local authorities to administer this scheme has been increasing year on year since 2014, and I was happy to secure a further increase in this year’s budget. This shows the importance that is attached to the scheme and the Government’s commitment to older people and those with a disability.
“These grants have an huge impact on the quality of life of the many beneficiaries and play a vitally important role in helping people with a disability and people who are reaching an age in life when they are less mobile, to continue to live independently in their own homes.
“As Minister of State with responsibility for housing for older people and people with a disability, I am fully committed to assisting individuals to stay in their own homes and within their own communities for as long as possible and these allocations today will facilitate this goal for many” Deputy Burke stated.
Smokey Coal Consultation Concerns
Meanwhile, Deputy Burke has expressed his concern about the forthcoming consultation on smoky coal ban, announced by Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan.
The Minister of Stated said that alternatives must be in place before any changes are made to our regulatory regime, and says that “crucially these alternatives are not yet in place in the Midlands”.
“We are investing now more heavily in the green economy which is a positive step, but it is absolutely crucial that infrastructure and alternatives are put in place in tandem to this investment, so that people reliant on turf and other fuels are not left at a disadvantage.
“My Department, along with the Department of Climate Action, is putting forward a retrofit programme for social housing in the Midlands region as part of the Just Transition, but this is on a small scale when you consider the total number of homes in our region totally reliant on solid fuel to keep warm.
“Minister Ryan has made the commitment to have 500,000 homes retrofitted by 2030, which is an ambitious aim, but we must see this in place before we remove important sources of energy. Retrofitting is very labour intensive and while it is our goal, we need to ramp up the scale and speed of this before knock on effects are felt.
“I know constituents of mine are in favour of climate policies and are forward thinking in relation to the environment, we have seen how people are embracing more sustainable lifestyles over the last number of months which is hugely positive, but they must be supported in this by Government.
“At a time when we are introducing many new environmental measures, public buy-in is of vital importance from all in our towns and villages. That is not done through short-term divisive measures and creating fear among our community,” Deputy Burke concluded.