Monday, July 28, 2008

Elderly housing schemes face cutbacks

Local authority schemes to provide housing improvements for older people and people with mobility problems are facing major cutbacks, the Labour Party has warned.

According to Labour TD, Ciaran Lynch, late last year, various home improvement schemes for older people and people with disabilities, which were previously under the control of the HSE, were amalgamated under the Housing Adaptation Scheme. This was to be administered solely by local authorities.

However councils were not given any additional funding to cover their increased responsibilities and as a result, they are ‘now being forced to scale back on spending in this area’.

“There is real concern among people who are old, ill or disabled that the badly needed stair lift, bathroom conversion, downstairs toilet or extension will not happen because the money is not with the local authorities. At this point, a number of local authorities have spent their allocation and the budget has been exhausted,” Mr Lynch explained.

He said that it is ‘completely unacceptable’ that just half way through the year, people in a vulnerable position are being told that they will have to wait until 2009 before their application for home improvements can be considered.

“These schemes allow elderly, disabled and sick people to continue living in their homes and enable them to maintain an independent lifestyle without unnecessarily taking up a scarce space in a care centre or hospital,” Mr Lynch said.

He pointed out that they are efficient schemes ‘when measured against the cost of elderly and disabled people not being able to live at home’.

“As Minister with overall responsibility for housing and for local government, John Gormley should now give an assurance in response to the genuine concern that this programme is about to collapse,” Mr Lynch added.