Paudie Coffey has commented on the plight of elderly and disabled persons who have been refused funding from their local authorities for housing maintenance and upgrades.

The Fine Gael Senator claimed the problems have arisen as a result of the Government not committing enough funding to cover all successful applications.

While the Department of Environment funds 80 per cent of grants given under the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes, local authorities provide the final 20 per cent.

“The recent revelations of those approved for grants under the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes who were then refused funding due to lack of resources is nothing short of a national disgrace,” said the Portlaw-based Senator.

“Several people who were approved for a grant scheme have been informed in recent days they cannot go ahead with their proposed work.

He continued: “Local authorities have stated that no more funding is available for the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes and they are now refusing to process applications.”

Reflecting on his own days in County Council chambers, Senator Coffey said that “cash-starved local authorities” can only get further cash to pay for such schemes “if other local authorities do not spend all of their allocation”.

He added: “With massive waiting lists this is highly unlikely. In the first three months of this year local authorities already received 6,220 applications for grant assistance for elderly and disabled homeowners.

“The people who avail of these grants are the most vulnerable in Irish society and should not be made to pay for the economic mismanagement of this Government. These grants are generally used for essential repairs to prevent structural damage.

“I am calling on the Minister for the Environment to search deep to properly fund the essential upgrades that these people so desperately need.”