Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan appeared on Morning Ireland today and here are the key excerpts from her interview
- · There are no cuts in the amount, there is an increase in the amount of money available. It was €35 million last year, it is €38 million this year
· There have always been a large number of people applying for the grant and that is one of the reasons that we did the review, because we want to make sure that the grant goes to those who most need it
· This is only for new applicants – so anyone who is in the system already, who has applied, will be decided upon under the old system
· The reduction of the maximum amount of the grant is only in the older persons grant, the maximum grant for people with a disability is still €30,000
· The older person grant is gone down from a maximum of €10,500 to €8,000
· When we analysed the grants in each local authority, very few were getting were getting more than €8,000 and the average was about €5,000
· So the intention of this is to ensure that the money goes to those who most need it
· Grab rails and stairlifts would be under the mobility and disability grants – the limits haven’t changed for those. The ones that have changed are the older persons grant.
· So someone who is under 66 will still be able to apply for the mobility and disability grants
· The intention is to ensure the money goes who most need it
Question: Now you need to be 66 instead of 60 to apply for the older person grant?
- · Yes, and the reason for that is to have it in line with all of the other supports that the State provides for older people
· But I want to stress again that if people are under 66 and they have disability or mobility issues they can still apply under the other schemes
Question: Expecting to people to contribute to the cost?
- · People generally have been asked for a contribution
· If your income is less than €30,000 a year, you will be asked for a 5% contribution
· If your income is up to €60,000 a year, you will only get 30% of the cost
· There is a hardship clause there, whereby if the local authority feels that there is a case which is exceptional that clause is there.
· We’ve actually increased the money for the first time in a number of years, because we realise there is a high demand and in many cases people have been waiting for a long time
· We have tightened up the rules to ensure those in most need get it as quickly as possible
· The local authorities also make a small contribution along with the amount the Department pays
· This grant is one that people who need it really value – we want to ensure it goes to those people
· An upper income limit of €60,000, I think is fair enough
· We will take other incomes in the house into account
· If you can get a grant and save €5,000, it can make the difference between you having to stay in hospital and getting to go back home – we want to ensure it goes to those who most need it
· I believe these changes will mean more people can stay in their own homes
Question: Was this announced in secret/below the radar?
- · Absolutely not. We will be announcing the money in the next week for the individual local authorities
· With any circular, they start at the beginning of January
· We are always open about any of these decisions
Question: Age Action criticisms?
- · Many people apply for these grants have to wait, and sometimes the wait is the biggest problem, so if we have more money to spread around to more people, then it will allow people to stay in their own homes, which is what all of us want