Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ireland's Carer Crisis: 'Postcode lottery' for grants to adapt housing for the disabled

‘Unfair’: Catherine Cox, of Family Carers Ireland, said families are suffering and are having to take out loans
‘Unfair’: Catherine Cox, of Family Carers Ireland, said families are suffering and are having to take out loans
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

A third of local authorities paid €41m on housing and mobility grants for more than 12,000 disabled and older people - while at least 3,000 people were left without any funding in a "postcode lottery".

The grants were paid to those determined to be most in need between 2014 and 2018.

The Irish Independent asked 31 local authorities how much they spent on housing and mobility grants. However, only 11 provided any details.

Funding for housing adaptation grants was reduced from €95m to €71.25m this year, despite the number of older people increasing by 36pc and the number of people with a disability rising by 63pc, according to Family Carers Ireland (FCI).

Only five local authorities out of the 11 that provided statistics responded to queries on how many applicants had been turned down.

Read more here: Fight for funds: Tina needs special alterations to her home

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council admitted it could take "one year" for an application to even be "provisionally approved", while the grant may be "paid in a subsequent year".

"There's no waiting list, it takes some time to process applications and is dependent on all supporting documentation being supplied," a council spokesman said.

The council paid out €4,451,375 from 2014 to 2019 on 578 approved disability adaptation grant applications. Some 166 were turned down in this period.

Cork County Council paid out €22,262,104 to 3,395 successful grant applicants between 2014 and 2018.

But during this period, 1,807 applicants were turned down.

"Minor works, for example, such as level access shower, ramps or stair lifts, normally would be done the year or following year of application," a spokesman said.

Read more here: Young carer Shauna (14): 'It's tiring but I am happy to help my brother Daniel'

Leitrim County Council spent €723,961 on 104 successful grant applications. Only 26 applications were turned down.

A council spokesperson said it can take between three and 12 weeks to assess an application.

Dublin City Council, one of the biggest local authorities in the country, failed to respond to requests for figures on grant spending.

It said it had approved 3,221 applications for people with disabilities in a four-year period from 2014 to 2018.

Catherine Cox, head of communications and carer engagement at FCI, said: "We have come across families where the cared-for person has passed away before the family were approved for their housing grant.

"The waiting time for these grants can vary from six months to two years, depending on which council area the family live in - once again highlighting the unfair postcode lottery of supports and services that exists for family carers across the country.

"Many caring families, who are already financially burdened, have to take out significant loans in order to pay for a downstairs bathroom, shower or other vital equipment to make their homes more accessible, because of the waiting time and the bureaucracy of the funding process," she added.

 

Family Carers Ireland are available on Freephone Careline number for family carers 1800 240724.

Carers can call any time for information, advice or just a listening ear.  Also carers can access the website here www.familycarers.ie for information.

Irish Independent

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