Housing improvement grants reaching critical point

The housing grants administered by Mayo County Council for older people, including repairs, adaptation, and mobility grants is reaching a critical point and needs to be addressed soon. That was the message given by director of services with responsibility for housing for Mayo County Council, Paul Benson. The council provided a grant of up to 75 per cent of the total costs of works carried out and has allocated €2.8 million in next year’s budget for the three schemes, however at last Monday’s budget meeting of the council Mr Benson warned there may be trouble ahead with the scheme.

He told the meeting: “There is an issue with grants and I know that councillors are aware of that and there are concerns about changes that could be made. Any changes that are to be made would go before the housing SPC and back before the full council for ratification. We were here before in 2010, where we had to make changes and we’re in that position again. The reality is that this is a demand led scheme, there is a huge demand and the cost of running the scheme exceeds what is available and unless there is a huge increase in budget we can’t possibly continue the scheme as it is operated currently.”

He added: “As of now the housing aid for older people grants have been approved up to February 2014, the other two grants the adaptation and mobility aids grant have been approved up to May 2014, and only emergency cases have been approved since, and we still haven’t enough money to deal with what is approved up to those dates. You can see the head of steam that is building up on it. Something needs to be done, my own view is that it’s better to give some percentage grant to everyone, than to give the maximum to a small number of people. That’s a personal view, everyone on the SPC will have their own as will the members, I’m sure. What I’m saying to you is that without a huge injection of cash, which is not there, it’s not possible to keep running the scheme the way it is.”

He concluded: “It will be a matter that will be on the SPC for discussion. I’m sure it’s something all the members will have an interest in. There is no application in the system that is of an urgent or emergency nature that is not being dealt with, regardless of funding constraints, they are a priority, that won’t change.”

 

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