Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy says the latest secret cuts to housing grants for older people and those with disabilities is further evidence of the Government’s sustained attack on the elderly. Since 2011 there has been a 47% cut for Westmeath alone.
The changes to three grants; The Housing Adaption Grant for people with a disability; the Housing Aid for Older People and the Mobility Aids Grant means applicants will receive reduced payments and the application process has also been made more difficult.
Deputy Troy said: “The secret and sneaky changes to these grants, which were brought in on New Year’s Eve, is a retrograde step and will adversely impact some of the most vulnerable people. In 2011 over €1.3m was earmarked for these grants in Westmeath but Fine Gael and Labour have slashed this by a massive 47% in the last two years, down to €702,000 for last year.
“This is a very bad move and it will condemn a lot of older people and those with disabilities to live in conditions that are not suitable because they cannot afford to renovate their homes to cater for their illness or disability. This is about dignity and the Government is continuing to erode it for our elderly and disabled.
“Elderly people in their early 60s will now be forced to pay the full cost of any adaptation work to their houses as the eligibility age has now increased from 60 to 66. I know many people in Westmeath and across the midlands who will be very fearful of these changes. The manner in which the Government announced these changes is also deeply cynical.
“This is a false economy as people will now be forced into nursing home care and with community based supports also being hit, these vulnerable people will feel they are being backed into a corner with nowhere to go.
“Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s excuse that people will still be able to avail of disability grants doesn’t add up since that grant has been abolished with no replacement put in its place yet. Elderly people with mobility problems may not be eligible to receive a Disability Allowance or Grant in any case. The installation of a hand rail or the provision of heating in their home may be the difference between an elderly person staying at home as opposed to being forced into care.
“I would urge Minister O’Sullivan to re-think the changes and commit more funding for these schemes, which are vital for the independence of elderly people and those with disabilities.”