Blame council for housing grant scandal – Billy
DEPUTY Billy Timmins says Wicklow County Council rather than the Government is to blame for the county receiving such a low private housing grant for 2013 and 2014 compared to other counties.
The Garden County fared badly compared to neighbouring counties Wexford, Kildare and Carlow, with the likes of Kilkenny receiving a grant over double the size of the one allocated to Wicklow.
The private housing grants supports home adaptations for older people, people with a disability and people with mobility issues.
Wicklow County Council received an initial allocation in February 2013 of €453,694 followed up by a second allocation of €543,301 in July of the same year. They will receive an initial allocation of €603,039 for 2014.
In comparison Wexford County Council received €968,612 in February 2013, €1,070,672 in July 2013 and €1,138,712 in January 2014. Kildare County Council received allocations of €1,620,000 and €1,739,898 in 2013 and €1,819,830 so far for this year.
According to Deputy Timmins, the 'housing grant scandal' lies with Wicklow County Council rather than the Government.
He says, 'Wicklow received less funding last year per head of population than many other counties but this was due to the fact that Wicklow County Council didn't process applications throughout the year and had no funding committed in their request for funds. Meanwhile many other local authorities sought an allocation based on what was committed, plus current estimates. This resulted in Wicklow falling behind.'
Kilkenny County Council received grants of €1,124,929 and €1,190,906 last year followed up by a grant of €1,234,891 for this year. Carlow County Council received €597,663 and €634,081 in 2013 and €658,359 for 2014.
Minister Jan O'Sullivan has also stated that in line with practice in 2013 she expects to be in a position to make an additional allocation to these grants later in 2014.
Deputy Billy Timmins says he looks forward to Wicklow County Council explaining why the county received such small grant allocations at the next council meeting in February.
He continues, 'This year the Minister gave funding based on a historical figure plus a percentage increase. Unfortunately, this has meant that Wicklow is now suffering for a failure of policy in the past. I was also shocked to discover that Wicklow did not use all the resources they could have had and that only 76 per cent of the money allocated was drawn down. I think it's fair to say the funding scandal lies a little closer to home.'