Changes to housing and mobility grants to hit elderly

A group representing older people has hit out at the government over further cuts to grants.

Those in receipt of the housing adaptation grant for disabilities, the housing aid and the mobility aid grant will all be hit.

Under new changes, the income of anyone in the household over the age of 18 will be taken into account for means assessment, not just the applicants. The age threshold will also be raised from 60 to 66, as well as adjustments to the grant bands.

Age Action Ireland has hit out at the move, saying it will make it harder for the elderly to stay in their own homes.

"We're concerned that the changes to the three schemes mean that some of the most vulnerable of older people will struggle."

"It will make it harder to get a grant fro some of them, it will mean a reduced grant for some of them, and it will mean for the first time that some of those on the lowest income will be asked to contribute to the cost of the adaptation works."

The Department of Environment said the new measures will mean a more focused distribution of the grants, to make sure that those who need them most will get them - and Minister Brian Hayes has said claims that the changes will force people out of their homes are "over the top".

"I don't accept that," he said. "The important thing is that the supports are in place [and] the total fund involved is more than it was."

"We'll wait and see if there are teething difficulties with the new criteria for these grants."

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for the Government to "lay off older people", saying the cumulative effect of smaller cuts is hitting the elderly too hard.

KEYWORDS: elderly, grants, cuts
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