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Back You are here: Home Entitlements Entitlements Housing Housing Grants and Entitlements

Housing Grants and Entitlements


Report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, 1996

Grants and Entitlements
In Ireland, housing grants are available for disabled people in situations where changes need to be made to a home to make it suitable for a person with a physical or intellectual disability or a mentally ill person. Grant assistance may be available for changes such as making the home wheelchair-accessible, moving light switches, door handles, installation of a ground floor bathroom and toilet, etc.

Grants under the scheme are paid through your local authority. In recent months, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government has commenced a review of the scheme. Given the large number of applications, some local authorities have suspended the scheme pending this review. Further information about the grant scheme in your area is available from the Housing Department of your local authority.

Rules
There is no income limit for eligibility. The disabled person must use the house as their normal place of residence and the total cost of the works must be more than 254 euro.

Both local authority tenants and owner-occupiers may be eligible, however if your house is less than one year old the grant will generally not exceed 12,700 euro. Housing association tenants may be eligible in exceptional circumstances. Private rented tenants are not eligible.

If you are a local authority tenant, the local authority will meet the entire cost of the works, generally up to a maximum of 20,320 euro.

If you are an owner-occupier, up to 90% of the cost may be granted, generally up to a maximum of 20,320 euro. If you are unable to get a loan from a bank or building society to pay for the other 10%, you may be able to get a local authority home improvement loan.

The grant will not be paid if you start work before the grant is approved.

When the local authority receives your application, it will ask your Health Executive Services (HSE) Area to assess your circumstances.

How to apply
Applications to your local authority for this grant must be accompanied by a detailed itemised estimate of the cost of the work from the contractor (i.e., the person carrying out the work). Your application should also include specifications of the proposed work and you must include the contractor's income tax number and VAT number.

When your local authority receives your application it will contact your HSE Area to arrange a call to your home by an occupational therapist who will be required to provide a report back to the local authority. You should contact the Housing Department of your local authority for further information.

Where to Apply
Contact the Housing Department of your local authority for further information.

This is a grant paid by the Department of the Environment and Local Government, through the local authorities, to make houses over a year old accessible for people with disabilities.

The type of work that this grant would normally pay for includes:

    widening doors
    putting an extension on the house
    lowering light switches and door handles
    installing a downstairs toilet

    If your house is owned by the local authority, they will pay the full cost of the work and they will arrange for the work to be carried out.

    If you own (or have a mortgage on) your home, the local authority will only pay three quarters of the cost and you will have to pay for the other quarter yourself. The maximum amount that any local authority will pay is €15,236.86. You should note, however, that you may get less, even far less, than €15,236.86. This is because the local authority may not have enough money.

    Note that the maximum grant has been increased to €20,320 by Budget 2001, and that the local authority will now pay up to 90% of the cost to homeowners effective from 06/12/2000. Since Budget 2001 the house does not have to be more than one year old but the disabled person`s grant for a new house will not normally exceed €12,700.

    Who:
    People applying for this grant must satisfy the following conditions:
    you do not have to earn below a certain amount to qualify for this grant.
    you must get a registered builder to carry out the work
    this means a builder who has been registered for VAT.
    the work you want to do to the house must cost more than €250.

    How:
    Different local authorities have other conditions they may ask you to fulfil. Before you do anything to the house, contact your local authority housing department asking them to send you all the information you will need.

    Please note: this grant is currently under review within the Department of the Environment and Local Government.

    Repairs
    Local authorities have a number of house improvement schemes to prevent people from being rehoused. These include:
    improvement works in lieu of local authority housing available to people on a local authority housing list or moving to private housing
    home improvements for older people
    thatching grant

    Contact your local authority housing department for information on the home improvement services they provide.

    ENERGY ACTION

    What:
    Energy Action is a `not for profit` organisation that provides free draught-proofing and home insulation services. The organisation services around 1,500 homes in Ireland every year so there is a waiting list of about six months.

    Who:
    People receiving any of the following pensions may apply for the service:
    Old Age Pension
    Invalidity (Disability) Pension
    Blind Person`s Pension
    people receiving other social welfare payments may also be considered.

    How:
    To receive an application form or to find out more, telephone or write to Energy Action.

    Other Benefits and Entitlements:

    FREE ELECTRICITY, NATURAL GAS, BOTTLED GAS
    What:
    People in receipt of certain social welfare payments are entitled to receive an allowance to provide them with either free electricity, natural gas or bottled gas in their home.

    You may claim for either free electricity or free natural gas. If you are not connected to the ESB or Bord Gais systems you may claim for free bottled gas.

    The allowance entitles you to 300 free units of electricity (or equivalent for gas) every two months between October and March and 200 free units every two months between April and September. If you pay your electricity by meter, you will receive a voucher which you can cash at the post office.

    Who:
    In order to receive this allowance, you must firstly be getting one of the following pensions:
    Invalidity (Disability) Pension
    Disability Allowance
    Blind Person`s Pension

    (or if you have transferred from one of these payments to the Widow/Widower`s Contributory Pension)
    Social Welfare or Garda Widow`s Pension (and 66+ years old)
    Unemployability Supplement (for at least one year)
    66+ years of age and income not exceeding the maximum Old Age Contributory Pension by more than £30 gross per week
    In addition to the above, you must be living on your own or with one or more of the following people:

    dependent spouse
    person with a disability
    person who could qualify in his/her own right
    a dependent child/children under 18 (or 22 if in full time education)
    someone who provides necessary full time assistance to you on account of your disability

    If you are 75 (70 from May 2001) or older, you will be eligible for one of these allowances no matter who you live with as long as the bill is held in your name.

    How:
    Application forms are available at your local post office or telephoning or by writing to the Pension Services Office.

    FREE TELEVISION LICENCE
    What:
    This grant entitles you to a free television licence the next time you are due to renew your licence.

    Who:
    Anyone who is eligible for the free electricity, natural gas, bottled gas allowance will be eligible for this allowance.

    How:
    To get a free licence, bring the following with you to your local post office:
    your current television licence

    something in writing to say that you are entitled to free electricity or natural or bottled gas. For example, you could bring a letter saying you are entitled, or an electricity or gas bill

    Application forms are available at your local post office or by telephoning or writing to the Pensions Services Office.

    FREE TELEPHONE RENTAL
    What:
    This allowance entitles you to free rental on your telephone line. You will also get 20 units of free calls every two months. A unit is the equivalent of 11 pence (including VAT). You must already have a telephone installed to receive this allowance. If you don`t have a telephone, you will have to pay the installation fee, but it may be possible to get help with this from the Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

    Who:
    People who are eligible for free electricity or gas will also be eligible for free telephone rental providing they also live alone or only with:
    a person or persons with disabilities
    a child or children under 18 years of age (or 22 if in full-time education)
    an adult dependent of 66+ years where one or both of you have a disability
    a person who is receiving the Carer`s Allowance to assist you

    How:
    The telephone allowance cannot be backdated so you should apply as soon as you think you qualify. Application forms are available at your local post office or by telephoning or writing to the Pension Services Office.

    NATIONAL FUEL SCHEME:
    What:
    This scheme provides a fuel allowance for people who could not afford to heat their homes otherwise. It operates from the middle of October to the middle of April every year.

    An allowance of €9 (from January 2002) is added to your weekly income. If you live in an area where smoky (bituminous) coal is banned, you will get a further €3.90 added on to your allowance giving you an extra €12.90 a week in total.

    Who:
    This allowance is only given to people who are dependent on social welfare or health board payments as their only source of income.
    To qualify, you must live alone or only with:

    a dependent spouse and/or dependent children
    a person assisting you because of your disability
    another person who would qualify in his/her own right for the allowance or is in receipt of Unemployment Assistance (short term)

    You must also satisfy a means test (unless you are already on a means tested payment, e.g. Disability Allowance). A €3.90 allowance may also be made to some people who do not qualify for the fuel allowance. These include people in receipt of one of the following payments for at least three months:
    Short term Unemployment Assistance
    Unemployment Benefit
    Disability (Sickness) Benefit

    How:
    To get this allowance, ask at the place from where you collect your benefit.

    RENT MORTGAGE ALLOWANCE
    What:
    If you are in receipt of social welfare payments, you may be entitled to Supplementary Welfare Allowance which could include an allowance towards your rent or mortgage repayments. This is not an automatic entitlement - the decision to award you this lies entirely with your local health board.You may also qualify if you have a part-time (NSSB update 30/03/2000) job but earn very little because of your disability - for example, someone who works in rehabilitative employment.

    How:
    Contact your local health centre or local health board for further information.

    INCOME TAX RELIEF
    People paying income tax can claim an allowance on their mortgage or rent on private property. The amount of allowance you will be given depends on your marital status, age and the amount of tax you pay.

    There are a number of other tax free allowances that may be relevant to a person with a disability, or someone caring for that person, who lives at home. These include:

    Incapacitated Child Tax Credit:
    This is a tax free allowance for parents of a disabled child under the age of 21 or in full time education who is living at home with the family. Parents can claim this tax credit of €500.

    Allowance for Employing a Carer for an Incapacitated Person: This is an allowance that a taxpayer who has a disability can claim if they need to employ someone to give them assistance at home. They can claim an allowance of up to €30,000 (at the top rate of tax). Since April 1999 this relief has been extended so that one or more family members of the person being cared for can claim this allowance (Comhairle addition).

    Contact the Revenue Commissioners for application forms and further information. They have a help desk you can call.

    Further Reading
    A new edition of `Buildings for Everyone` was published last year 2002 by the National Disability Authority, and is available from them, cost 45 Euro. It will shortly be available for consultation in Comhairle offices around the country.

    Further Help
    This last section gives you details on where to go for further information or help on anything you have read about in this booklet. Addresses together with telephone and fax numbers (where available) are given for every organisation mentioned and there is a short note on the services these organisations provide.

    Only the addresses of government department headquarters are given in this booklet, but there may be a regional office located nearer to where you live. You can check this in your local telephone directory. This directory will also contain the address and telephone number of your health board, your nearest health centre and your local authority. All this information will be found in the green-edged pages that are at the beginning of the directory. Other organisations which are listed in this booklet may also have regional offices nearer your home. Again, you can check this in the telephone directory (in the main part of it) or by contacting them at the address given here.

    If you need help finding an address or telephone number, contact Directory Enquiries by telephoning 11811. Eircom has special services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. For more information, phone them free of charge on 1901.

    Finally, if you need information on any subject, including more details on anything you have read about in this booklet you should contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre (CIC). These are located in over 80 places in Ireland and provide free, confidential and impartial information on any subject to anyone who makes a request.

    Anyone who makes an enquiry can be assured that they are in no danger of losing any benefits by doing so. Staff can fill in forms or telephone government departments if you want them to. You do not have to make an appointment to visit them. There is a mobile service for people who cannot easily gain access to a CIC.

    You will find the address and telephone number of your nearest Centre in the Golden Pages or local telephone directory. They are listed under `Citizens Information Centres`.


    Useful Addresses:

    Department of the Environment and Local Government
    Housing Division
    Custom House
    Dublin 1
    Tel: 01 678 3377
    Fax: 01 874 2710

    Government Publications Sales Office
    Molesworth Street
    Dublin 2
    Tel: 01 661 3111
    Fax: 01 475 2760
    Orders by phone or fax.
    Catalogue available

    Housing Grants
    Government Buildings
    Ballina
    Co Mayo
    Tel: 096 70 677
    Tel: 096 70 680

    Irish Wheelchair Association
    Headquarters
    Áras Chúchulain
    Blackheath Drive
    Clontarf
    Dublin 3
    Tel: 01 833 8241
    Fax: 833 3873

    National organisation dedicated to the achievements of full social, economic and educational integration of people with disability as equal, independent and participative members within the general community

    Department of Social Community and Family Affairs
    Áras Mhic Dhiarmada
    Store Street
    Dublin 1
    Tel: 01 874 8444
    Fax: 01 704 3870

    National body for disability - services, advice & information
    Energy Action
    IDA Unit 16
    Newmarket
    Dublin 8
    Tel: 01 454 5464
    Fax: 01 454 9797

    Free draught-proofing service Pension Services Office
    College Road
    Sligo
    Tel: 071 69 800
    or
    Tel: 01 874 8444

    Social welfare pensions - information
    National Social Service Board (Comhairle from 12/6/00)
    Hume House
    Ballsbridge
    Dublin 4
    Tel: 01 605 9000
    Fax: 01 605 9099
    Provides information on state services, including the development of the Citizens Information Database and a network of Citizen Information Centres nationwide

    Revenue Commissioners
    Dublin Castle
    Dublin 2
    Tel: 01 679 2777
    Fax: 01 671 1826
    Tax and duty information Revenue Central Telephone Information Office
    Tel: 01 878 0000

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