Elderly advocate groups slam new grant changes

Both Age Action Ireland and the Netwell Centre in DkIT have been critical of changes and cuts to local authority grants for elderly people.

The new age for eligibility for the grant is to change from 60 to 66 years of age, while the income threshold for receipt of the grant is to remain at €60,000.

The grant for home improvement will be cut from €10,500, while grants of up to €30,000 are available under the housing adaptation scheme for structural changes.

Also assessors will now take into account the income of anyone in a household over the age of 18 for means assessment purposes.

Anne Egan of Age Action Ireland is concerned at the changes .

“Our real concern is that this will make it more difficult for older people and people with disabilities to remain living in their own homes, especially those who are seriously ill or frail”, says Anne. “It makes sense for people to invest in their own homes, and from a government point of view it is cheaper to have people living at home then in State care in nursing homes.

Meanwhile Rodd Bond of the Netwell Centre says: “Unless the proposed changes to home adaptation grants are a first step in a major transformation that we have little or no visibility of at the moment, for me, tinkering with eligibility is not the answer – it’s a bit like Nero playing the Lyre watching Rome burn! Yes, the pot could always do with getting bigger – but the size and scale of the challenge means that we need thinking and action thats much more than that.

“Our work in Louth, and what we’re seeing from efforts by local and regional authorities across Europe, points to the need for a much more radical and innovative approach to how we organise ourselves to address the challenge of helping older people ‘age-in-place’ in their own homes and communities.

“The housing adaptation grant is a vital instrument for some older people in order to create a more supportive physical home environment with fewer barriers.

“When looked at in isolation, this policy change makes little sense,” concludedMr Bond.


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