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£2m improvements approved across South Grants Area

Published: Mon, 14 Apr 2014
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Mandatory grants such as Disabled Facilities Grants and Repair Grants are still available
Disabled adaptation railings
Since April 2013 our South Grants office has approved 322 Home Improvement Grants worth £2.2m.
In the same period £2.26m has been paid out for 315 schemes which have been completed. These grants helped owner-occupiers, landlords and private tenants carry out renovations, repairs and adaptations in the Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon and Newry and Mourne District Council areas.
Although there has been a reduction in grants funding over recent years, there are still some types of home improvement grants available. Mandatory grants such as Disabled Facilities Grants and Repair Grants are still available and, where exceptional circumstances exist, Discretionary Grants can also be applied for.  
Disabled Facilities Grants are for owner occupiers, landlords and private tenants, provided there is a person with disability living in the house and all the work which is grant aided is based on the recommendations of an occupational therapist, in the Health and Social Services Trust. In the last year, our South Grants office approved 173 such grants.  They also approved 137 repair grants and 12 discretionary grants.
South Grants Manager, Malcolm McKeown commented: “Disabled Facilities Grants, up to £25,000, are paid to make the home of a person with a disability more suitable to their needs and improve the quality of their life.  I am delighted our team in South Grants was able to approve 173 of these grant applications within the last year.”
“It is widely acknowledged that work carried out with grant aid contributes considerably to the local economy both directly and indirectly. Local people are employed to carry out the work who in turn support local shops and builders’ merchants.  We calculate work completed last year could have generated an additional £4.5m within the local economy and we anticipate a similar figure for the coming year.”
Through help from a Housing Executive Disabled Facilities Grant a family in Gilford recently completed an adaptation to their home to help a family member unable to use the stairs.  They created a ground floor extension with bathroom and after the work was completed they were ‘happy with the work’ and went on to say the contractor did ‘an excellent job’ and the ‘Housing Executive Grants staff were very helpful’.
As a whole, since April 2013, we were pleased to approve 1,068 grants with work being completed in 1,001 properties making it easier for those households to live comfortably in their homes.
Siobhan McCauley, our Director of Regional Services said: “Our figures for Northern Ireland represent a significant investment in the community and the economy.  The work carried out varies and is dependent on the individual needs of the person who has a disability.
“Typical works include making access in and around the house easier, widening doorways, altering existing bathroom or kitchen facilities to make them more suitable, providing level access shower facilities, ramped access, or providing a ground floor bedroom or shower room.
“Just as the work varies, so too does the amount of grant. This will depend on the approved cost of the work and the grant applicant’s financial circumstances, as some people may have a contribution to make towards the cost of the work.  However, if the adaptations are for a child there is no financial assessment carried out.
“We also have arrangements for some independent agencies to provide elderly people or those with special needs, help through the grants process.”
We is not currently accepting applications for discretionary renovation, replacement or home repair assistance grants unless exceptional circumstances exist.  The Housing Executive defines exceptional circumstances as works which need to be undertaken:
  • to enable adaptation works to be carried out;
  • due to an imminent and significant health and safety risk to the occupant;
  • if there is a serious risk to the occupants due to structural stability; and/or
  • due to circumstances relating to the health and wellbeing of the occupant.
If you live in one of the following council areas: Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon or Newry & Mourne, you can contact South Grants by email on south.grants@nihe.gov.uk or telephone 03448 920 900 for more information. Alternatively, visit www.nihe.gov.uk.