Portlaoise Councillor Catherine Fitzgerald has said she is totally opposed to the recent allocation of just over a quarter of a million euro for the Housing Adapation Grants and People with a Disability Scheme.
This year’s allocation is 75% less than last year’s, which was almost €1.1million. The council said that they had appealed the allocation, but were unsuccessful and the original allocation stands. However, the council were told that there is a national contingency fund of €2m, that they could apply to when their allocation was exhausted.
“The Housing SPC have agreed that we should keep something back for emergencies. I don’t agree with what we’re being told to spend what you were given,” Cllr Fitzgerald said.
“We gave great value for money over the year. I find it very irritating that places like Limerick and Mayo got the same allocation.
“We are being punished for doing it right. You have to know what you’re getting before you can say what you’re doing.”
Cllr Fitzgerald said she wanted a deputation to meet with Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Housing.
Supporting his colleague, Cllr Padraig Fleming said a delegation should go from the council to meet the minister.
“The joy and happiness that people feel, it’s a fantastic scheme,” he said.
Cllr John King said it kept small builders in business, and LAois should be on a par with other counties. While Cllr Tom Mulhall said that all neighbouring counties got the same allocation as last year.
“We shouldn’t accept this, it’s a huge loss to the county,” he said.
Cllr Mary Sweeney said she was embarrassed about the allocation.
“This is one of the area’s that housing excels in. I’m embarrassed by this allocation.”
The Ballyroan councillor said she didn’t see a point in organising a deputation, but would support one.
“We are being punished because we were so responsible,” Cllr Brendan Phelan said, suggesting that the council contact the local TD’s and Senator for their support.
Portlaoise Councillor, Wille Aird said Laois had even received 50% less that Offaly. He proposed that Cllr Mulhall should be sent to meet the Minister as chairperson of the Housing SPC. He also suggested that Cllr Fitzgerald, who had put the motion down and a represenatataive from the council meet the Minister.
“The deputation needs to go immediately,” he said, “there is stack of filed from not only last year, but the year before that.
“There is a stack of files in Housing for this year alone.”
“I think the council should visit all the people who applied and prioritise those who need work done.”
MIchael Rainey, Housing Officer, said they intended to hold back a portion of the money.
“We do intend to hold back a portion of the money, €60,000 is already spent, it will all be exhausted by July.”