Households in flood areas may be given up to €200,000 to relocate
Seán Canney ‘hopeful of agreement’ in Cabinet on voluntary relocation proposal
A flooded car and house in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, in December 2015. Photograph: Eric Luke
Hundreds of families living in flood-prone areas could be given up to €200,000 to relocate under plans to be considered by the Government this week.
Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Seán Canney is to bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday, outlining a new voluntary relocation scheme for homeowners. The proposals would apply to flooded households that cannot access insurance, whose residential property is not sustainable and where there is no alternative solution.
The scheme is expected to cost an initial €2 million, which was allocated in Budget 2017.
Mr Canney told The Irish Times: “This has yet to be discussed by Cabinet, but we are hopeful of agreement. We know this will offer comfort to hundreds of people across the country, but it is important to stress this is voluntary. Not everyone will want to move.”
It is expected that the scheme will initially focus primarily on those whose homes have been rendered uninhabitable due to the floods in the winters of 2015 and 2016. The local authorities have told the Office of Public Works (OPW) that this may affect in the region of 600 people.
Under the proposals from Mr Canney, householders would be asked to meet the local authorities, the OPW and the Department of Social Protection to assess if they are eligible. A homeowner would then have three months to formally accept the offer of relocation.
The scheme would allow for a family to receive financial assistance to purchase a new home. The amount would be based on market value in the area and guidance from the local authority, but would not exceed €200,000.
A legal agreement would be drawn up between the two sides, which would allow for the demolition of their house.
The Government will also consider extending the scheme, which could see a further 4,000 householders benefit.
The Cabinet will discuss whether financial assistance can be offered to homes that were surrounded by floodwaters but were not themselves flooded. This would extend eligibility to more than 1,700 properties.
Another option would be to allocate monies to those whose homes were made inaccessible due to the flooding of surrounding roads and lands. This would mean a further 2,300 properties could be assisted.