January 29, 2024
Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant needs urgent revisions – Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Eoin Ó Broin TD, has said that the Government’s Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant needs urgent revisions.

The Dublin Mid-West TD spoke after Government figures showed that just 100 grants have been issued to date and that more than 80% of the €30 million funding allocated for 2023 went unspent.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“The Government opened their Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant in June 2022. In the 18 months since it has been available, over 6,000 people have applied for it and over 3,000 applications have been approved.

“Despite this significant interest, just 100 grants were drawn down in 2023. Of a budget allocation of €30 million for last year, just €5 million was spent. Over 80% of the allocation went unspent and had to be diverted to other budget lines in the Department.

“Over the course of last year, we heard applicants raise very serious concerns about the way the scheme was operating. The grant is paid in arrears. There are significant delays in receiving payment. And there are real problems in coordinating mortgage finance with the grant application.

“All of this is a consequence of the Government announcing and opening the scheme before it was properly worked out and before the necessary application and payment systems were in place.

“Yet again, the Government has introduced a badly designed scheme and missed targets that were too low to begin with.

“We have been raising these issues with the Minister throughout 2023 but to date he hasn’t listened. In light of the information that he has released today the Minister must make urgent revisions to the scheme if it is to work properly.

“Grant approval in principle prior to mortgage approval should be introduced. Grant payments should be made in phases directly to the contractor as works are being completed. And the application and approval process should be streamlined to ensure decisions are made as quickly as possible.”

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