Minister defends changes in grants for elderly and disabled

Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan has today defended changes to housing grants to the elderly and disabled - saying it will ensure the money goes to those who most need it.

Minister O'Sullivan says the amount of money available for the housing adaptation grant, the housing aid and the mobility aid grant has been increased from €34.3m to €38.6m this year compared to 2013.

Disability and elderly advocates say the changes in eligibility requirements target the most vulnerable in society and will force people out of their homes.

However, Minister O'Sullivan has denied that, saying that it allow more people to stay in their own homes.

"We actually have more money - we could have left it as it was - but the reason we're doing it is to ensure that it goes to the most needy and that it goes to more people," she said.

"I stress again (that) there is more money available this year than there was last year; so the intention here entirely is to ensure that we do facilitate as many people as possible to stay in their own homes.

"That's what people want, that is the right thing to do and that is the purpose."

She added: "The Estimates provision of €28.6m in respect of the suite of Grants for Older People and People with a Disability will be supplemented by the recently announced €10m in additional funding for this measure, giving an overall provision in 2014 of €38.6m, some €4.3m more than the initial Exchequer allocation in 2013.

"The increased allocation will facilitate the payment of more than 7,800 grants to assist older people and people with disabilities to remain at home for longer.

"I intend to announce details of the capital allocations to local authorities early in 2014."

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