Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at the government for their practice of leaving elderly people and those with disabilities to languish as prisoners in their own home.
Highlighting figures that show that the total budget allocation for Housing Adaptation Grants for Louth is down almost half a million euro on last year Deputy Munster raised the matter in the Dáil today.
Deputy Munster said:
‘We’re halfway through 2018 and there are already 267 applications so far plus 95 carried over from 2017 making a total of 362. The allocated budget will only cover 123 of these which means that Louth County Council will need extra funding of €1,840,004 to clear the remaining applications.
Despite claims in their Programme for a Partnership Government that they value and will facilitate the continued independent living in their own homes for the elderly and People with a Disability they are slow to release the necessary funds. Instead they leave hundreds of people to struggle for survival in their substandard homes.
This is reflected in almost daily representations being made in my Drogheda constituency office as in constituency offices all over the country by elderly and disabled people, or their families on their behalf, for downstairs bathrooms, stair-lifts, bedrooms or wet rooms to enable them to continue living in their own homes.
Additional funding needs to be released immediately to Louth County Council to clear these remaining applications.’
At the end of last year, Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough welcomed the opening of the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme (HAGS) for 2017. Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly.
Each year, the scheme opened, was flooded with applications and then closed again after a few short weeks. However, this year saw an extension to the submission period with the Scheme remaining open all year round.
Although welcoming the extension at the time, Cllr McGeough has since been left frustrated with the long periods of waiting time some of his constituents have been facing for these adaptations to take place.
He said “I have a lady who is in her late 80’s who made a submission for a small but essential adaptation to her bathroom in 2016. She was marked ‘Priority 1’ which is categorising her as ‘urgent’. 2016 has gone, 2017 applications are in and this lady has now been informed that her work should be carried out in 2018.”
“I raised it at the Ardee Municipal meeting and I reiterated my call at the Louth County Council this week, to apply to the Department for extra funding for this Scheme as there is not enough to meet the needs of Priority 1 cases and that is unacceptable. The Council have agreed to do so.”
“There is no point in opening the Scheme all year round, processing and passing applications only to leave them sitting in a pile somewhere because there is no budget to carry out the works.”
“The applications for this particular Scheme are from some of the most vulnerable in our community. The scheme is intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs. This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home. These adaptations need to be carried out in a timely manner and waiting two years is wholly unacceptable by anyone’s standards.”