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Housing Adaptation Grants for the elderly - 2020 figures show an 18% reduction in spend versus 2019

The Department of Housing has just released the 2020 figures of grants allocated under the Housing Adaptation Grant scheme for older people. The grant scheme which has been running since 2008 and has helped ‘0000s each year adapt the home for safer independent living and has helped Irish seniors with areas such as installation of stairlifts, modification of bathrooms and installation of grab rails to enable them age safely and comfortably at home.

According to comparison analysis carried out by Ageing In Place  the 2020 spend on the grant schemes was €45.3 Million which is €10.1 million less than the spend in 2019. In terms of the grants awarded in 2020, the number dropped to 8137 grants issued, versus 10,023 in 2019.  This represents a drop of approximately 18% in both spend and volume of grant awards.

The numbers published on the Department of Housing website acknowledge that “in 2020 the majority of Local Authorities were unable to achieve full drawdown of their allocations due to the impact of COVID-19, with Government restrictions curtailing the activities of technical staff, occupational therapist resources and the availability of construction resources.”

Housing adaptation Grants for the elderly - Data

As Irelands population ages and more and more Irish senior adults are now looking to age at home it is expected that demands for grants such as the mobility aids housing grant and the housing adaptation grant for older people will see an increase in demand . However analysis by have shown that this particular support as struggled to reach the volumes of 2010 and 2011 . The graph below shows that in 2010 13,588 grants were issued under the scheme . The graph shows the impact of the 2008 recession and subsequent austerity programme when figures fell to 7011 in 2013.

While the number of grants allocated since 2013 have continued to grow steadily it is important to remember that so too has the number of people in  the 65+ demographic . In fact according to the CSO the amount of over 65’s in Ireland increased by 102,000 to 637,000  from 2011 to 2019 meaning that the level of  funding for the scheme has struggled to keep up with the demand and is likely to come under more pressure as our population ages.

The 2020 numbers by county

According to The Department of Housing the 2020 underspends will be “reallocated” and added to the 2021 budget meaning that more funds will be available than ever before to help more Irish seniors adapt the home for safer independent senior living . The total budget allocated to the scheme in 2020 was €71.25 million of which only €45.3 million was spent . You can see a breakdown of the spend by local authorities here. 

The scheme which is also likely to be impacted severely by COVID in 2021 as restrictions continue to curtail the administration and functional capabilities of many local authorities may struggle to spend the reallocated monies meaning that we could see a similar drop when we review the 2021 data . This bottleneck will affect some of our most vulnerable as we seek to deal with the backlog and this will become a major frustration to grant applicants  , family members and their circle of care.

One of the major frustrations of the grant scheme pre COVID is the time that  the process can take from application to installation . While this varies from local authority to local authority the anecdotal evidence that we have would suggest that the application process can take up to  6 months and in some areas this can run up to 12 months . When we factor in the bottleneck and pent up demand brought on by COVID we are likely to see these averages increase . 

The grant application process is not straight forward and for those living alone is all the more daunting . The application process requires quite a lot of detail and our experience is that many only consider applying for the grant after an accident has occurred or worse still when some is about to be discharged from the hospital . Given that the scheme has increased funds now  and that there is a growing and  pent up demand we encourage anyone considering applying for these supports to get started as soon as possible by checking their eligibility first and getting your application process started . You can use the home adaptations grant checklist here to get started.

Growing trend of senior adults seeking supports for home adaptations

While the COVID crisis has clearly affected the Housing Adaptation scheme in 2020 it is also leading to a growing trend of Irish senior adults evaluating how and where they age in future. More and more of our partners are starting to see an uplift in the demand for products  and services and while it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why this is happening it is thought that the COVID issues experienced in both the private and public nursing home sector is leading many people to evaluate how and where they want to live in old age.

The home adaptation grant scheme is likely to become a major conduit to people adapting the home for safer independent senior living and it is expected that grants that promote the concept of ageing in place will see even greater demand after COVID 19.

The home adaptation grant is means tested and you can check your eligibility here.

About Ageing In Place : Ageing in place is a new digital platform that aims to provide clear and accurate information about the products, services and financial supports that are available to enable barrier free and independent living in your own home.

The portal is designed to give you easy access to all the information you need in one place to enable you to evaluate your options, check your eligibility for grant supports and should you wish contact contractors in your local area.


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