Laois bottom of the league for spending on vacant houses

Housing County hall spent just €61,000 readying vacant homes for relet in 2015 compared to €500,000 in Offaly

Laois bottom of the league for spending on vacant houses
By Conor Ganly @laoisnews

Laois County Council spent the smallest amount of money on making vacant council houses fit to live in last year of any local authority in the State.

The council was also very thrifty when it came to adapting houses for the elderly but was a big spender on energy efficiency.

None of these schemes come out of the council’s budget but are directly funded by the Department of the Environment.

Just over €61,200 was spent by the council last year ‘returning vacant houses to productive use’. No other local authority spent less than €200,000 under this scheme last year. In 2014 Laois spent more than €291,000.

Offaly County Council has spent more than €1 million over the past two years. In each of the past two years Offaly spent more than €500,000.

Laois was also one of the smallest spenders in the scheme that makes homes liveable for the disabled and elderly.

In the past two years Laois spent just over €170,000 under the disabled persons grant and extensions to local authority houses schemes. Nearly €54,000 was spent in 2014.

Over the past two years neighbouring Carlow spent more up to €450,000 through this scheme. Offaly spent just €39,000 in 2014 but this rose to €201,000 last year.

However, Laois was a big spender under another scheme.

Over the past two years the council spent more than €1.3million under the energy efficiency/retrofitting programme. In 2015 €555,936 was spent.

Providing the figures to the new Dáil outgoing Minister Alan Kelly said the management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including the implementation of planned maintenance programmes and carrying out of responsive repairs and pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, is a matter for each individual local authority.

Over and above this he said his Department supports the authorities under a range of programmes to improve the quality and availability of social housing stock. These programmes include the return of vacant properties to productive use, improving the energy efficiency of social housing stock and providing funding towards the cost of adaptations and extensions to meet the needs of tenants with a disability or to address serious overcrowding.

It emerged earlier this year that it takes ten weeks to turn over council houses in Laois compared to the national average of 24 weeks.

Cllr James Kelly said at the time that this may be due to the fact that there is such a shortage of houses. He told the Leinster Express last week that the demand for housing is 'hectic' would want details on turnaround spend.