South Tipperary’s 66% cut in funding for Housing Grant Allocations is the biggest cut inflicted on any council in Ireland, it was revealed at last week’s county council meeting.
The grant scheme, which allows essential works carried out to adapt houses for the elderly and others so that they can remain in their homes and not go into care, has left councillors in shock.
From funding of €3,111,713 million last year, this year the council has seen its allocation cut by more than €2 million to €1,087,988.
The cut in South Tipperary represents 10% of the entire country’s cut to the grant.
In comparison, North Tipperary County Council was cut from €1.2 million last year to €425,000.
Cllr Siobhan Ambrose said everybody was shocked by the allocation and asked for a letter to go to the Minister for the Environment and Minster for Housing seeking additional funding.
Cllr Eddie O’Meara called for the restoration of the grant. He said it was not just the cost of the grant that should be considered but the savings to the state because people are not committed to nursing homes. “This is the worst cut I have seen in the last three or four years,” he said.
“These cuts have to be changed,” Cllr Pat English insisted. “These are most vulnerable people. It is essential we reinstate the €3.1 million we got last year.”
Cllr Billy Shoer said the grant was not spent on luxuries but on essentials. “This is not a sensible cut in any form or fashion.”
Cllr Marie Murphy said that she had already spoken to Minister Phil Hogan and has written to Minsters Hogan and Jan O’Sullivan. “Compared to last year this is a 66% cut. To my mind it’s cracked. This keeps people at home longer, savings on nursing home costs and provides employment to small builders.
“Before speaking to the minister I checked with the county council that we have funding to meet a grant of €3 million and we have. We applied to the department based on actual information and applications on hand. I know the country is in a bad way but this one is a total no brainer.”
Cllr Michael Fitzgerald said he had heard South Tipperary had suffered the biggest cuts in the country, this was confirmed by council officials.
The meeting was told that there were 283 applications for the €3.1 million grant. The value of priority and emergency cases alone is €1.7 million - more than the grant received.
Councillors were told that approved applications will be re-prioritised on medical need and all emergency cases will go ahead. No more applications for the Housing Grant will be accepted by the council.
Just €2 million in additional grant aid has been kept in reserve for the whole country, the meeting hear, and it will not be looked at until later in the year.
Councillors agreed to write to the minister to ask he meet with a cross-party deputation from the council.