‘More young people will be homeless’

Fianna Fail councillor, Catherine Fitzgerald said more young people will become homeless, if the government don’t provide more money for housing in Laois.

Fianna Fail councillor, Catherine Fitzgerald said more young people will become homeless, if the government don’t provide more money for housing in Laois.

Cllr Fitzgerald made the remarks following a progress report on the county development plan.

Senior Planner, Angela McEvoy said in line with national trends, there has been a major reduction in the amount of social housing directly provided by the council since the adoption of the Plan, two years ago. Instead of Capital Programme new-builds, there is a greater emphasis on rental schemes.

Last year, the council provided ten new social houses compared with zero this year.

Also, last year the council delivered 22 Social Housing by Voluntary/Co-op Sector, whereas this year only four have been delivered.

There has also been a huge drop in the number of mobility aid grants, reducing from 70 last year to 18 this year. While there has been just seven grants of housing aid for older people, this year compared to 104 in 2012. The housing adaptations grant for people with disability has also greatly reduced from 50 last year, to just 8 this year.

Cllr Fitzgerald said the council were not getting enough money from central government.

“We are not getting enough money from central government. The younger generation are on less money and the rent allowance has been decreased. There is going to be a lot more people homeless, it’s a dangerous path to go down,” she said.

Her party colleague, Cllr Jerry Lodge was also concerned about the housing situation.

“The report on housing was abysmal. It’s not getting adequate funding. We need to say to the Minister that Laois County Council needs more funding.”

Ms McEvoy told councillors that this was not the anticipated review of the county development plan which councillors were hoping for.

“This is not a review on the county development plan, but a report on the progress achieved in the last two years,” she said.

Cllr James Daly was unhappy that councillors were not having an opportunity to review the plan.

“There was talk of a review of the county development plan due to recent controversies. The report is welcome, but we’re not going to have an opportunity to make changes,” Cllr Daly remarked.

The planner said that while a number of the objectives have been achieved, some are ongoing,she said others would be vigorously pursued over the next four years.