Supporting Property

Zero refurbishment grants drawn down in Galway over 18 months

The Government has been asked to urgently review the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant after new figures revealed that zero refurbishment grants had been drawn down in Galway since the scheme opened in April 2022.

The call came from Galway West Deputy Mairéad Farrell who is demanding action from the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, after the failure to draw down even one grant across the city and county in 18 months.

“This isn’t good enough. People in Galway affected by the housing crisis need to see an ambitious and workable plan that will deliver homes locally,” she said.

“Sinn Féin supports the provision of a vacant and derelict property refurbishment grant. However, the current Government scheme was badly designed and continues to be beset with problems.

“When it was launched last year, Minister O’Brien had not engaged with mortgage lenders. As a result, applicants were unable to draw down their mortgages or grant until issues between the pillar banks and Department of Housing were resolved early this year,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that the scheme had also been heavily criticised by applicants as the grant is paid in arrears.

“That means that applicants have to front-up the money and claim the grant after the works have been completed and paid for. In many cases, applicants in Galway do not have this cash up front and this is a barrier to accessing the funding,” she explained.

“The scheme is also chronically underfunded at just €30 million for 2023, and a similar amount for 2024, resulting in an annual target of just over 200 homes to be brought back into use each year.

“Sinn Féin has put forward a much more ambitious proposal for bringing vacant and derelict properties back into use.

“Through increased capital funding to Local Authorities, we want to see up to 4000 vacant and derelict properties bought and refurbished by Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies for social, affordable rental and affordable purchase housing. This would make a real difference for people affected by the housing crisis here in Galway,” she said.

Pictured: Deputy Mairead Farrell.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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