Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has suggested that a controversial sliding scale for financial supports for homeowners of mica-damaged properties may not be included in the scheme to help them after a review to be conducted early next year.
The Mica Action Group along with Opposition politicians have called for the sliding scale to be dropped amid claims that it means homeowners won't get 100 per cent redress and will have to contribute tens of thousands of euro to rebuilding their houses.
Government backbenchers have also raised concern about the sliding scale which was announced on Tuesday.
The Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme will initially cover repairs or rebuilding of an estimated 7,500 homes in Donegal and Mayo.
It has a €420,000 cap on the level of support on offer, up from €247,500 under a previous version of the scheme.
The indicative figures for the support on offer in the sliding scale are €145-per square foot for the first 1,000 sq ft of a home, €110 for the next 1,000 sq ft and then €100 sq ft after that.
Fianna Fáil minister and Donegal TD Mr McConalogue defended the Govenment's plans while suggesting that the sliding scale may not ultimately end up in the scheme during an interview with Highland Radio's Nine til Noon show.
‘Economies of scale’
He said the idea behind the sliding scale is "you get economies of scale as a property gets bigger" and it will be the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) who will assess and decide on the rates.
Mr McConalogue said the indicative rates announced on Tuesday were based on a SCSI estimate of €138-per-sq ft for properties of between 1,000 and 1,500 sq ft in the North West as of the start of 2021 .
The average size of mica impacted properties in Donegal is around 2,300 sq ft.
Mr McConalogue said the SCSI will be updating its assessment in February to reflect the current market.
He was asked if he is for or against the sliding scale and replied saying: “I’m for what will be right in terms of reflecting what’s in the market.”
He added: “That will be updated using the Chartered Surveyors of Ireland at the start of next year. And if that includes a sliding scale or if it doesn’t - doesn’t include two scales let’s say, or three scales as is there at the moment - that will be a matter to be teased out and examined with them”.
He said this will “bring clarity at the start of next year in relation to what exactly the situation in the market is at the moment.”
Mr McConalogue defended the Government’s plans saying: “This is a really strong scheme which does deliver 100 per cent redress”.
He argued that it gives homeowners confidence into the future that their home will be fixed and the scheme will be adjusted every year “to reflect the market reality and to deliver 100 per cent of what that what that market reality is”.
Mr McConalogue said the scheme - which has a projected cost of around €2.2 billion - is “unprecedented and necessarily so”.
He said he has relations, friends and neighbours who are affected by the mica issue as are people who canvassed for him in the election.
“We have all worked hard - no more so than the homeowners and the campaigners - to deliver this.”
He encouraged people to look at the detail of the plan.