A CANCER patient is among the county council tenants left waiting for urgent house improvement works.
The man has a colostomy bag fitted for life and urgently needs a walk-in shower. By the end of June, he had still not received an essential grant under a 2019 funding scheme.
Laois Co Council had to wait until 27 June before money was released for this year’s housing adaptation grants for people with disabilities. When the funding was finally released, it was a whopping €120,000 less than last year.
The council was informed on 27 June by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government that Laois is getting only €242,000 for works for council tenants in 2019, down from €362,000 in 2018.
The huge shortfall was strongly criticised by cllr Aidan Mullins, who says that council tenants are being victimised. He pointed out that the council received €1.1 million for similar grants for private houses in Laois this year.
He said: “I am dealing with a council tenant who is suffering from cancer and has had a colostomy bag fitted for life. This tenant urgently requires a walk-in shower, but until the end of June the funds were not there to do the work. This is totally unacceptable and the council are trying to accommodate emergency cases, but they need the funding to do so due to the high number of applications.”
Cllr Mullins said that he was informed by the county council that the cancer patient’s case is being treated as urgent and he is confident that the delayed works will be done as soon as possible. However, the huge shortfall in this year’s funding is a major blow for many other elderly or disabled tenants in Laois.
The grants help the elderly and people with a disability to have adaptations, repairs or improvement works carried out to their home to make their accommodation more suitable for their needs.
According to cllr Mullins, Laois Co Council worked on the assumption that it would get at least the same this year as in 2018 for council tenants. Instead, they are facing a shortfall of €120,000.
Speaking to the Laois Nationalist, the Portarlington councillor said: “The council have already carried out work costing €208,000, with a further €124,000 in progress on council houses. They have now applied for a second tranche of funding amounting to €256,000 to cover the cost of applications for the rest of this year. If they don’t receive it, the overspend from this year will be taken from the 2020 budget and they will not be able to carry out any further works this year, including emergency cases.”
To make matters worse, the department rules state that the works must be completed by the end of October, which leaves little time to do anything this year.
The Sinn Féin councillor commented: “The council is applying for a second tranche of funds to make up the shortfall but, in the meantime, it has no funds to finance any emergency cases that may arise for the rest of 2019. The situation is unacceptable, at a time we are being told by government that the economy is booming and we have full employment.”