Creative approach needed to tackle funding shortfall

TULLAMORE Town councillors were left with a bitter pill to swallow, following the funding allocations under the Housing Capital Programme with particular concern for the future funding of the Disabled Persons Grant scheme.

TULLAMORE Town councillors were left with a bitter pill to swallow, following the funding allocations under the Housing Capital Programme with particular concern for the future funding of the Disabled Persons Grant scheme.

According to Mr Martin Daly, the county’s overall allocation from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government included €600,000 for the funding of voluntary housing schemes, the majority which is is understood to go ahead on Tullamore based projects, €237,000 for energy efficiencies works on local authority houses, including eight units in Tullamore town, and a further €72,000 for the county to spend on Disabled Persons Grants scheme.

The monthly meeting of Tullamore Town council was told that no funding was provided by the Department for Traveller accommodation in the county.

However, Tullamore Town Council will be going back to the Department to secure funding on this for 2012.

Cllr Brendan Killeavy welcomed the funding to improve the energy efficiency of eight units in Tullamore and asked that the Council prioritise the worse cases under this works programme.

However, he was gravely concerned for the funding of the Disabled Persons Grant. “This is a very low figure. This is a serious issue. I don’t know why the Government don’t pump more money into this. I can’t figure it out.”

Cllr Tommy McKeigue was also worried about the level of funding for the entire county and pointed out that the Council will have “curtail the scheme way back” because of the level of funding.

Noting the importance of the scheme, Cllr Molly Buckley also quickly expressed her concerns about the situation.

“It is something we have to look at this. We will have to look at what people really need as so many people out there need adaptations.”

It is understood that Offaly County Council is currently reviewing the scheme through the SPG committee. Cllr Buckley said that the local authority will have “to look at being creative” with the money.

Cllr Sinead Dooley, Cathaoirleach of Tullamore Town Council, noted that the Town Council will proceed with its own programme of works under the Disabled Persons grant scheme. She also noted the disjointed thinking on the overall issue between the Health Service Executive [HSE] and the local authorities.

The Fianna Fail councillor suggested that there should be a database of where equipment has been installed so that it can perhaps be reused when it is no longer required by clients.