€15m more for victims amid failure to deliver on ’09 pledge

As the Government adds another €15m to monies made available to the victims of flooding, it has defended paying just €2.2m to householders from the €10m pledged in the wake of floods four years ago.

The Humanitarian Assistance Scheme was approved by Government in November 2009 after massive floods, particularly in the south of the country.

The €10m on offer was, according to the Department of Social Protection, to go towards “the replacement cost of essential personal belongings or household goods and appliances”.

“Assistance toward the cost of repairing structural damage may also be considered where this is not covered by the householder’s insurance,” a department spokeswoman said.

However, she said: “[The scheme] has certain conditions attached, such as the income test, to ensure that funding is targeted to those most in need.

“The basic principle of the income test is that individuals and families with average levels of income will qualify for assistance,” she said. “For example, a family consisting of a couple and two children with a gross household income of €70,000 or less will receive 100% of the amount allowable in respect of their application. For each whole €1,000 of household income above the €70,000 the couple will be required to make a personal contribution of 1% toward the amount allowable.”

In November 2011, it emerged that just €1.6m of the €10m had been released with an average payout of just €1,310.

This week the department confirmed that, despite other flooding events in the interim, payouts only grew by €600,000 since then.

The average amount paid to individual households appears to have fallen significantly. In 2013, there were 166 payments totalling just over €151,800. That is an average of just €915.

In defence of the pay- outs, the spokeswoman said: “The department considers the income test for humanitarian assistance to be fair. The means assessment is more generous than that applied under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme in general. The basic principle of the income test is that individuals and families with average levels of income will qualify for assistance.”

On the latest flooding event she said department officials in the Community Welfare Service had made every effort to ensure support is provided to those affected as swiftly as possible.

“Emergency clinics have been established in the Limerick area to offer help to affected households where appropriate. Department officials are also available to make home visits to individuals they have identified as being vulnerable at this difficult time.

“The department continues to engage with the local authorities to ensure that all households that require assistance are identified and provided with access to supports.”

Payouts to date

Payments issued to householders affected by floods since 2010 are as follows:

* In 2010, approximately €1m was paid out to 2,100 householders mainly in Galway and Roscommon who suffered damage to their homes following the flooding in November 2009;

* In 2011, a total of €359,000 was paid out to householders mainly in Dublin and Monaghan who suffered damage to their homes following the flooding in autumn 2011;

* In 2012, a total of €714,000 was paid out to householders, mainly in Dublin, Monaghan and Cork, who suffered damage to their homes following the flooding in autumn 2011 and June 2012.

* In 2013, approximately €151,800 was paid under the scheme in respect of 166 claims, of which some €51,000 was paid in Dublin and more than €66,700 in Galway.

* To date in 2014, some €17,300 was paid in respect of 17 claims

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