Almost 70 instances of housing adaptations and aid for the disabled and the elderly cannot be carried out this year in Galway city due to Government slashing of funding for such services.
Similar difficulties are also being experienced in the Galway county areas, with a 31 per cent cut in the Housing Aid for Older People and Disabled Persons Schemes, which represents an amount of €730,614 for Galway County Council.
Independent county councillor Seán Canney described the situation as “shocking”, while Labour city councillor Colette Connolly said the lack of funds will result in families being “forced to place relatives in home care, which is not necessary”.
Cllr Connolly said it is “totally inexplicable” that the Galway City Council’s allocation for the Disabled Persons Grants has been cut from over €1 million last year to little over €300,000 and that “budget for 2013 has already been exhausted”.
Cllr Connolly said no explanation has been offered by the Department of the Environment as to why the grant was cut, despite a written request for information by City Hall director of services for housing, Kevin Swift, dating from March 6.
According to the Galway City West councillor, the actual 2012 allocation was €928,352 received in February, plus an additional €130,00 in October 2012. This made a total of €1,058,352, including the council’s own contribution of €211,670.
As a result the council was able to process 173 grants covering housing adaptations, mobility aid grants, and housing aid for the elderly.
The allocation for 2013 is €301,280 including the council's own contribution of €60,256. This figure has meant the council was only able to process 56 grants. A further 66, totalling €446,600, remain unprocessed as there is no funding.
Cllr Connolly said there are on average five to eight applications each week, with an approximate cost of €4,000 each.
“The level of grant application will not significantly differ from last year but without additional funding from the Government, the council will not be able to process or assess grant applications,” she said.
Cllr Connolly said that the situation is “critical” and that the shortfall is one that must be “immediately addressed by the Government”.
Cllr Canney said that without theses grants, the only option is for people to go into fulltime nursing care.
“This does not make economic sense,” he said. “Furthermore our elderly and disabled did not cause the present economic crisis and should not have to carry the burden. Again, it is the elderly and disabled citizens who will suffer because of the decision of this Fine Gael/Labour Government