Sick and elderly suffer over one-third cut to Laois County Council's social housing adaptation budget
There are emergency cases in Laois where people need housing adaptations like a cancer patient who cannot use their bath according to Cllr Aidan Mullins.
Cllr Mullins expressed his disgust at the cut to the housing adaptation allocation of money for Laois County Council’s social housing stock.
Ms Nicola Lalwor Acting Housing Officer said Laois County Council has been advised that the 2019 allocation for adaptation works for social housing stock is €242,000 - this is a reduction of one third on the 2018 allocation of €362,000.
To date this year social housing adaptations such as bathroom work, railings and accessibility to the value of €208,713 have been completed.
More work to the value of €124,322 are in progress and a further seven cases where works are urgently required have been identified. The estimated cost of these urgent works is €68,317.
This brings the total amount of money needed this year to €401,352, some €159,352 over the allocated amount.
At a Portarlington/Graiguecullen Municipal District meeting this week, Cllr Mullins said this is affecting people who are sick.
“I can’t get my head around the fact that we are being told the economy is improving and tax cuts could be in the budget. Here we have a reduction of one third.
“One particular emergency case is under threat because of this the council won’t be able to carry out work, there is a cancer patient not able to get in and out of the bath.
“There is €1.1 million allocated for private housing adaptation. The shortfall for this year will be taken out of next year's allocation draining money out of next years.
"Social housing is not a priority of this government,” he said.
Cllr Tom Mulhall urged Laois County Council to spend all the money it has been allocated and to request more from the Department of Housing.
“Laois County Council has a stock of around 2,300 houses, some of them are quite old now. Tenants keep their houses very well for the most part. Older people and sick tenants are hugely important and they can get grants for the works. It is disappointing the funding is cut.
"My advice on this is to make sure you spend the money and go looking for more, it needs to be spent to show that you are in a good position to receive more. I have never been in a situation where we were allocated money and didn’t use it. If there is a need for this for showers, baths and rails make sure all applications are dealt with,” he said.
Acting Head of Finance Julie Bergin said they cannot overspend in the hope of getting more money allocated at the end of the year because if it didn’t come through it would be taken from next year’s budget.
Laois County Council said a submission has been made to the department requesting that the allocation be increased in order to meet the commitments and emergency works.