Tuesday, 27 March 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
235. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the number of applications being refused by local authorities under the disabled persons' grant scheme; the criteria that constitutes high and low priority cases under this scheme; and his views on the fact that the very low number of applicants actually being approved makes the scheme itself ineffective. [8977/01]
236. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the reason it is necessary for applicants under the disabled persons' grant scheme who are already in receipt of invalidity pension or disability allowance from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs to attend a medical officer from the health board to determine their eligibility under this scheme when their medical condition has already been verified by the medical officer of the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. [8978/01]
237. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the criteria used by individual local authorities throughout the country when determining the qualifying conditions under the disabled persons' grant scheme. [9056/01]
The disabled persons' grant scheme is administered by the local authorities in accordance with the legal framework laid down in section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1979, and statutory regulations made under that Act.
The statutory regulations do not contain a strict definition of disability for the purposes of the disabled persons' grant scheme. This provides a measure of flexibility to local authorities in dealing with individual applications under the scheme. It is a matter for authorities to decide on the general criteria which they will apply and review them on a case by case basis, if necessary, exercising appropriate flexibility and compassion.
I have improved the terms and conditions of this scheme on three occasions since 1997 with the effective maximum grant now £16,000, double what it was in 1997. In the case of a private house, the grant may now cover 90% of the approved cost of the work while the full cost of the works are covered in the case of a local authority house. These significant improvements have resulted in a much higher level of activity under the scheme. In 2000, £21.8 million was paid by local authorities in respect of 3,650 disabled persons grants compared to £8.6 million in respect of 2,231 grants in 1997. No data is available in my Department regarding the number of grant applications refused.
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