• Debt Problems If you are having difficulty keeping up with payments it is vital that you immediately inform those you owe (utilities, banks, etc.) and seek advice. Options include:
• Money Advice & Budgeting Service (MABS) who advise and can negotiate with creditors (1890 283 438 or locally,on Quay Street 0761 07 2570 or in An Cheathrú Rua on 0761 2820 or Castlebar 0761 072 670)
• Insolvency Service of Ireland helps people who owe money and cannot afford to pay to reach debt settlements (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 076 106 4200)
• Utilities offer Easypay options and even pre-payment meters in some circumstances.
- Water Charges: Domestic water charging applied from 1 January 2015; bills issued at the end of each quarter.
- Annual charges capped at a maximum of €160 for single adult households and €260 for all other households until the end of 2018.
- Every household who registered by 30 June 2015 qualifies for a Water Conservation Grant of €100 per year.
- For the purpose of metered bills, the charge for water will be €3.70 per 1,000 litres.
- Through conserving water, metered households have the opportunity to pay less than the relevant capped charge.
The first leak on the external supply pipe will be fixed for free. Where a meter is newly installed and actual usage is lower than the capped charge, a rebate will be given after 6 months for the entire period of charges.
- Lead Pipe Replacement Grant: A grant will be available from the Council for replacing lead water pipes. Details are currently being finalised.
• Rent supplement – A supplement towards rent may be payable where neither you nor your spouse is working full-time (defined as 30 hours or over per week), subject to ceilings, and a means test (see below) provided you meet the following eligibility requirements:
• Already renting (or in homeless accommodation) for at least six months,or on the Council’s housing needs list.
• Otherwise you must be first assessed by the Council as in housing need (emergency cases fast tracked by City and County Councils)
No supplement will be paid where the rent exceeds ceilings set for different family size. In Galway the rent ceilings are at €475/€540 for a single person/couple (€230/€250 for a single person/couple in shared accomodation) and €700/€725/€750 for a family unit with 1/2/3 children respectively. In Mayo the rent ceilings are set at €375/€390 for a single person/couple. €195/€215 for a single/couple in shared accommodation. €435/€465/€500 for a family unit with 1/2/3 children respectively. Rent ceilings may vary across different areas of the city and the county to take into account differences in rental costs. If a family with children is threatened with becoming homeless through loss of their tenancy from rising rent demands, an increased supplement may be paid on the recommendation of Threshold (1800 454 454)
• Rent Accommodation Scheme
You can qualify for RAS if you are in need of housing and have been getting Rent Supplement (in general for a period of 18 months or more). Under RAS, the City/County Council enters into a long-term contract with a Private Landlord, you pay an income related differential rent. If you take up work you still get a subsidized rent. If the Landlord withdraws, the council is obliged to secure another tenancy for the family (For details, Tel: 091 509300 for Galway County and 091 894370 for Galway City or 094-541111 for Mayo).
Housing Assistance Payment is a new option from Councils which will be phased in during 2015 for person who have been long-term on Rent Supplement. Under HAP, the council pays the landlord direct and the tenant pays the Council an income-related differential rent. Persons on HAP will also be eligible to go on the Councils Transfer List. Rent caps will apply
HOUSING AID FOR PENSIONERS
Older people or those with incapacities can get grants for home improvements from the Council, subject to income limits, but medical priority is likely to be a key test.
• Housing Aid for Older People Grant aid available for improvements such as rewiring, roof repairs, central heating (where none), etc. for persons aged 66 or over. The amount of grant aid varies between €2,400 and €8,000 with up to 95% of the costs available in Galway City and County and up to 75% in Mayo. The level of grant is dependent on gross household income and the approved cost of the works as assessed by the City/County Council.
• Mobility Aids – Up to 100% grant (95% in Mayo) to cover costs up to €6,000 in Galway City and County to cover the costs of works to address mobility problems, certified by a doctor (e.g. rails, ramps, stairlifts and level access showers) in owned or private rented homes where the annual income for all household members is under €30,000.
• Housing Adaptation (Disability) – Up to 95% grant of up to €30,000 in Galway City and County and in Mayo for works to adapt a home to suit the needs of a person with an enduring disability (e.g. downstairs toilet/shower, wheelchair adaptation, extension, etc.) in owned or private rented homes. The works must be certified necessary by a doctor and may require an Occupational Therapist Report. Annual income of all household members must meet the same test as Housing Aid for Older People
Telephone Number for Housing Grant Sections: Galway City 091-894371, Galway County 091-509301 and Mayo 094-9541111
• Energy Efficient Home:Sustainable Energy Ireland provides grants to homeowners under two programm
- Better Energy Homes Scheme which provides grants for the following: Attic Insulation (€300), Wall Insulation (€300 – €2,400 internal and €2,250 – €4,500 external, depending on the type of dwelling), Boiler Upgrade (€700), Heating Controls Upgrade (€600) and solar heating (€1,200). Along with the insulation works, you can get a grant of €50 for the required Building Energy Rating (BER). Grants will typically cover 20-30% of the full cost. Energy savings of up to 50% can be achieved.
- Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme which aims to improve the energy efficiency and comfort conditions of homes occupied by low-income or elderly households. Assistance is available with attic insulation, draught-proofing, hot water tanks insulation and low energy light bulbs.
Further information on the schemes is available by telephoning 1850 927 000 (Better Energy Homes Scheme) and 1800 250 204 (Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme) or by visiting http://www.seai.ie/Grants. Grant applications must be submitted and approved before any improvement works are carried out.