The housing aid and adaptation grants issued by Local Authorities to older people and those with disabilities should be increased to reflect the rising cost of construction, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Emer Higgins has called for increases to be applied to the housing aid for older people grant, the mobility aid grant and the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability, which are issued by Local Authorities and funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Deputy Higgins said: “I know from my own office that the people who avail of these grants find them massively beneficial to make their home a more suitable and comfortable place for them to live.
“But with the cost of carrying out works rising, I believe we should be increasing the level of grant to ensure that older people and people with disabilities aren’t being left to make up the shortfall especially with the change of circumstances that the cost-of-living crisis has brought about for so many.
“There are three main grants which I think should be looked at with a view to increasing the level of funding provided,” Deputy Higgins added.
“The housing aid for older people grant provides up to 95% of a grant in owner-occupied homes, for persons aged 66 or over, to cover the costs of up to €8,000 in necessary improvements like rewiring, central heating or replacing boilers beyond repair.
“The Mobility Aids grant provides up to 100% of the costs of up to €6,000 in works to address mobility problems with the installation of rails, ramps, stairlifts and level access shower.
“And the Housing Adaptation grant for people with a disability provides up to 95% of the costs of up to €30,000 in works to adapt a home to suit the needs of a person with a disability such as a downstairs toilet shower, wheelchair adaptation or extension.
Deputy Higgins continued: “But across the board we’re seeing a marked rise in not only the cost of materials but the cost of labour for carrying out these works as well, so I think we should certainly be increasing the grants without delay.
“Housing adaptions and aids can be the difference between someone having to move to full-time care or being able to stay in their own home and maintain their independence.
“The rising cost of living shouldn’t be a barrier to someone being able to live comfortably in their own home.
“I welcome yesterday’s announcement of €83.125m in national funding for the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older and Disabled people for 2023. This is a 2.3% increase on the initial 2022 funding allocation and represents a continuation of the year-on-year increases in the grant since 2014.
“While any increase is to be welcomed, and this funding allocation is expected to result in some 12,300 grants for older people and disabled people, to facilitate them living independently in their own homes, all funding models should be boosted to ensure they are more in line with current construction costs,” Deputy Higgins concluded.