40% cut in Housing Adaptation grant funding will hurt older people with disabilities

The Department of the Environment’s decision to cut funding for the Housing Adaptation grant by 40% this year erodes another vital support for people with disabilities who are struggling to remain living in their own homes.

The grant has been cut from €54 million last year to just €35 million in 2013.  “This is a serious blow to people on low incomes who to adapt their homes to enable them continue living there with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities, but who are not able to afford the cost of the necessary works,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said. 

The scheme has provided a life-line in the past to many older people, who have qualified for the payment and used it to convert downstairs rooms into toilets or shower rooms, or to fit a stair lift.  The means-tested grant pays for up to 80% of the cost of the work. 

“Our experience was that, even prior to the latest cut, funding for the scheme was inadequate, with some local authorities running out of funding by the middle of the year,” Mr Timmins said. “These further cuts will mean that fewer people will be able to afford to adapt their homes this year, the waiting period for funding will get longer, and inevitably people will no longer be able to live in their homes. Instead, some may be forced into residential care.” 

The revelation that the grant is being cut, follows last week’s announcement that the disability allowance and the motorised transport grant schemes will end in less than four months. 

Age Action believes the provision of adequate community supports is essential to enable older people remain living in their own homes, in their own communities. 

“It is frustrating to learn that funding for important supports is being whittled away at a time when we are awaiting the publication of the National Positive Ageing Strategy,” Mr Timmins said.  “One government department is finalising a strategy to enable Ireland’s ageing population to age positively, while another is slashing funding for programmes which share the same goal.”