Fianna Fáil has called on the Government to stop its targeted attack on older people and people with disabilities.
The party’s Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government and Laois/Offaly TD Barry Cowen has condemned the changes to local authority grants to help older people and people with disabilities live comfortably and safely at home.
“Make no mistake about it - what we are seeing here is another series of underhand cuts to older people and people with disabilities. Whatever way the Government tries to spin it, this means that less people will be eligible for support to allow them to stay living at home,” said Deputy Cowen.
“These schemes provide vital support to help older people adapt their homes to their physical circumstances. Information I received through recent Parliamentary Questions shows that the Government has already cut this support to the bone, with the number of grants reduced from 7,138 in 2010 to just 1,739 for the first 10 months of the year.
“This has meant that over the past three years, many older people are not getting the support they need to live in the homes they have worked all their lives for. And these latest changes will make things worse.
“The Government’s dramatic reduction in local authority funding has also meant that many councils simply do not have the funds to contribute their 20% share of the grant payments. Without this contribution, central Government doesn’t supply any funding for the grants at all.
“I have no doubt that this is a sneaky delay tactic by the Government to avoid paying out money for housing grants. This Government has a record of delaying a raft of State payments in order to save money. We have seen this behaviour in action in relation to medical card applications and a raft of other social welfare supports.
“Without adequate State support, the waiting lists for housing grants will continue to soar. In my own county of Offaly, the waiting list for this grant is already four years. This Government needs to radically rethink the way it is treating our older people and people with disabilities.”