Only one in 30 applicants for vacant and derelict property grant received payment by end of last year

More than 6,000 applications received through the Croí Cónaithe scheme by end of 2023

Just 100 of more than 6,000 applicants for grant aid to refurbish homes under the Government’s Croí Cónaithe scheme had been paid out by the end of last year, according to new figures.

The scheme, also known as the Vacant Property Refurbishment Fund, was introduced by the Government in July 2022 as a means to deal with the problem of vacancy or dereliction in Ireland. The standard grant is €50,000 with a top-up of €20,000 when the property is confirmed by the applicant to be derelict. To date the Department of Housing has paid out €5,083,144.

It was originally designed for people who wanted to renovate a property they could live in, but has since been expanded to include properties which will be made available to rent.

Figures from the department show that up to the end of last year 6,034 applications for grants had been received, of which 3,166 were approved. A total of 343 were rejected. The figures indicate only 100 applicants had their grants paid out by the end of 2023. The rest remain under consideration.

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Some of the biggest local authorities in the country had yet to pay out any grants at the end of 2023. They included Dublin City Council, Galway City Council, South Dublin County Council and Tipperary County Council.

Kildare had paid out the most grants at 24, followed by Mayo County Council (12), Limerick city and county (10), Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (9) and Wexford County Council (9).

Donegal County Council (528) had received the most applications for grants under the scheme by the end of last year followed by Cork (505), Mayo (373), Kerry (336), Tipperary (315) and Galway (313).

There were 3,223 applicants for the €50,000 grant only and a further 2,799 for the €50,000 grant plus the top-up grant of €20,000.

The potential payout for the State if all the applications lodged by the end of last year were approved to the maximum amount would be €357 million.

The grant is payable only after work is completed. The work must be finished within 13 months of the application for the money to be paid out.

According to the Minister of State with responsibility for local government and planning Kieran O’Donnell, the issue of staged payments will be considered when the scheme is reviewed in the middle of this year.

Fine Gael senator Maria Byrne has said the introduction of a phased payment structure, which is common in domestic construction products, could make the scheme more attractive.

“The introduction of a phased payment structure, mirroring the common practice in domestic construction where payments are released following each stage of work upon inspection, could address this barrier effectively,” she said.

“Such a system would not only ensure the efficient use of State funds but also offer immense relief to applicants of the scheme and future homeowners by alleviating the financial burdens of upfront costs”.

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