Elderly people living in Kilkenny are facing into another difficult year in terms of local authority housing grants, with further cutbacks announced to the already-squeezed system.
Kilkenny local authorities received an allocation of €1.4 million for three housing grant schemes last year – €400,000 less than the previous year. It was a considerable way short of meeting the increased demand for the grants, as elderly people attempt to remain living in their own homes.
Now, new changes to the way these grants are allocated, including the amounts given and the eligibility criteria, have been outlined in a circular from the Department of the Environment. The changes affect the above three grants: the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability, housing aid for older people, and the mobility aids grant.
At the beginning of last year, the local council announced it would need at least €4 million just to cover the applications already submitted, without considering any new ones made during the year. One of the schemes is so over-subscribed it remains closed to new applicants, while the others have an extensive backlog of applicants.
The Government will now increase the minimum age threshold for those seeking the housing aid grant for older people from 60 to 66. In addition, the maximum grant is to be cut from €10,500 to €8,000.
In addition, the income of all household members over the age of 18 (or 23 if in full-time education) is to be included in means testing for grants, rather than just the income of applicants and their spouse.
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