Labour to discuss grant eligibility criteria

Charity says changes would make it more difficult for frail older people to stay at home

 Emmet Stagg, who yesterday expressed concern about increasing the age threshold from 60 to 66 for the housing aid grant for the elderly. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Emmet Stagg, who yesterday expressed concern about increasing the age threshold from 60 to 66 for the housing aid grant for the elderly. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Fri, Jan 10, 2014, 01:00


The Government yesterday defended the changes to grants for elderly and disabled people living at home, and said funding had actually increased since last year.

While there were no major concerns among backbenchers in both Fine Gael and Labour, the issue will be discussed at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting when the Dáil returns.

Kildare Labour TD Emmet Stagg said some TDs were concerned about increasing the age threshold from 60 to 66 for the housing aid grant.


Positives
Labour Party chairman Jack Wall said it would be on the agenda of the weekly meeting of TDs and Senators. “There are positives in it,” Mr Wall said.

“There is more funding available for people on lower incomes. The fact that there is more money . . . is a good thing.”

However, Mr Wall said the changes in eligibility criteria would have to be examined.

Advocacy organisations have described the changes as “cynical” saying they undermine the Government’s stated policy of keeping people in their own homes as long as possible.

The Alone charity said the changes would make it more difficult for the most frail older people to stay at home.

Chief executive Seán Moynihan pointed to the 2011 Programme for government which says: “Additional funding will be provided each year for the care of older people” and financing will be developed “which supports older people to stay in their own homes”.

Mr Moynihan said: “These cuts demonstrate no saving to the State. It is merely a cynical accountancy exercise.”

Age Action Ireland described the cuts as “significant” and called for a “comprehensive statement on the changes”.