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Stanley welcomes Minister’s decision to amend social housing application form

17 June, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin Environment, Community and Local Government Spokesperson, Deputy Brian Stanley has welcomed the decision of the Minister for the Environment to amend the social housing application form after raising issues of concern with him regarding the need for a letter from a consultant where a person was applying for social housing based on medical need.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“It came to my attention that the new standardised social housing application forms contained a clause that required a person who was making an application based on medical grounds that they were required to supply a consultant’s certificate specifying details of the condition and an occupational therapist’s report detailing any specific accommodation needs.
“We are all aware of the disastrous health system and long waiting times to see consultant specialists. People are waiting months, sometimes years, to see consultants depending on the condition and where they are located.
“Yet if they have the money they can see a consultant privately, very often within a matter of days. People who are applying for social housing for the most part do not have the money to shell out for a consultant’s private fee and the stipulation requiring this in the application form was a punitive mechanism which would unnecessarily delay the process for those in need of housing.
“I raised this matter with the minister and he has now given a commitment that he will amend the application form to address this, and has instructed local authorities that a consultant’s report is not essential in all cases and a report from a medical professional may be submitted.
“I welcome that the minister took on board our concerns and has directed local authorities to accept reports from GPs. I would urge him to now change the application form to reflect the changed criteria immediately.”

[Note to Editors: Parliamentary Question Below]
Question No. 408

Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that new application forms for local authority housing require applications based on medical conditions to provide a consultant's report; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that many persons who are applying for social housing do not have the means to see a consultant privately leaving them on long waiting lists in the public system further delaying their application and that many consultants are unwilling to provide letters of this nature in view of the fact that they do not see it as part of their role; and the steps he will take to address this..
- Brian Stanley.

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 15th June, 2011.

Ref No: 15283/11


Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (Mr. W. Penrose)

My Department is aware that the wording on the new application form may give rise to difficulties in some cases and I propose to amend the prescribed form to address this as soon as possible. I have advised local authorities that a consultant’s report is not essential in all cases where applicants have a medical condition or disability which impacts on their housing needs. However, an appropriate written report from a qualified medical or paramedical professional must always be submitted. This is required both to identify and certify the medical condition or disability involved and also to ensure that suitable accommodation is provided for the household concerned.

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