Housing adaptations ‘out of reach’ for older people due to rising costs, say TDs

‘Significant waiting times’ for people to have grant approved by local authorities, Dáil hears

The unprecedented increase in construction costs, as well as a shortage in the skilled labour force, is putting the cost of housing adaptations “out of reach” for a lot of older people and people with a disability, the regional group of Independent TDs have said.

Independent TD Seán Canney said there are also “significant waiting times” for people to have a housing adaptation grant approved by the local authorities.

Mr Canney was speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday as the regional group put forward a motion urging the Government to review housing adaptation grants without further delay. A housing adaptation grant is available from local authorities if older people or people with a disability need to make changes to their home to make it more suitable.

Mr Canney said over the last two years, people have had to borrow money to supplement the grant as construction and material costs have risen and “they have no means of paying that back”.


He said the fixed price for the grant was no longer effective while income thresholds were outdated and needed to be reviewed in line with the Consumer Price Index.

The Galway East TD said within his constituency there were children born with mobility impairments who are now in third-level education and “they still don’t have houses adapted to suit their needs”.

Mr Canney acknowledged the system had been “very good” to people since it was introduced and had allowed people to stay in their homes for longer.

“The idea that we haven’t changed the grant for the last 12 years is an indictment on us as politicians that we haven’t done something about this,” he said.

“We need to ensure that the scheme is brought up to date, and updated in a way that people can live at home.”

Independent TD Matt Shanahan said simple adaptations could do “so much” in houses, particularly to “secure older people from trips and falls”.

Mr Shanahan said the level of funding had almost doubled from €43 million to €81 million since 2014 but individual grant schemes had not changed in 12 years and were not adequate to provide adaptations given rising construction costs.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the Government had committed to a review of housing adaptation grants for older people and people with a disability.

Mr O’Brien said the scope of the review was under way and continued to be informed by ongoing engagement with external stakeholders, such as the Disability Federation of Ireland and the Irish Wheelchair Association.

He said formal submissions “will be invited very shortly” and the review would be completed by the end of the year. The Minister said 110,000 families had been able to have their homes adapted since the scheme was introduced and that the Government would not be opposing the motion.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times