Householder critical of means test
The applications procedure for the fund agreed this week by Cabinet to assist Cork flood victims has been described as “rubbish.”
The Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, which is mean tested, was established in October 2011 to assist flood victims in Dublin and Monaghan, will be extended to those affected by the floods that hit Blackpool, Douglas, Glanmire and Clonakilty more than a fortnight ago.
However, one resident whose house was completely gutted by the floodwaters was deeply critical of the means testing aspect of the fund.
“I have not received one brass tack,” said Richard Barry, formerly of Parkcourt in Ballyvolane, on the new fund, which has €9 million still left in it.
“It’s all means tested, so if you have modest means and some insurance, then they effectively tell you to go away. It’s rubbish. You have to go up to the office and sit down with all this paperwork and the chances of getting anything are negative.”
Mr Barry (57) suggested that the distribution of the fund should be left to the St Vincent De Paul to come into the areas and houses hit so that the actual devastation can be seen firsthand.
“It’s overly complicated. I have lost everything my wife and I have worked to build up in our home over 36 years. I fully blame the Corporation (City Council) who carried out no remedial works at all before the floods hit.
Mr Barry however paid tribute to the work done by local Fine Gael Councillor Patricia Gosch, who welcomed the fund as a “comfort to those who have been left vulnerable by the floods recently.”
While the move was welcomed by Fianna Fáil Cllr Ken O’Flynn, whose constituency heartland of Blackpool was deeply affected by the floods, he described as the application as “strenuous.”
“The document to fill out is a bit harsh on people that are already vulnerable,” said Cllr O’Flynn.
“The entire form is designed to leave people under the impression that they are being deterred from applying. So while I commend Joan Burton for bringing the fund forward, there really isn’t much involved in it to describe it as humanitarian.”
There is no set limit as to how much an individual can be paid under the fund and it covers damage to a person's home and basic essential contents such as carpets, flooring, furniture, appliances and bedding. Structural damage may also be considered.
However, applicants will have to provide evidence of payslips, estimates of repairs and any other information where possible that would support the claims.
Householders who opted not to insure or cannot give “reasonable grounds” for not having insurance will be expected to contribute the first €2,000 toward the amount allowable and the personal contribution will be two per cent for each whole €1,000 per annum of income above income level appropriate to the household.
It is believed a similar plan is currently being prepared for businesses affected by the Department of the Environment, due for discussion at Cabinet next week, however at the time of going to print this was not confirmed by the Department.
Bill Dunlea of the Coffee Pot in Blackpool believes that businesses are being left outside the fund for now.
“What we need right now are flood barriers and an early warning system,” said Bill, who is also Chairman of the Community Centre in Blackpool.
The fund is on top of the emergency assistance payments that are available from the Department of Social Protection and an application can be accessed at www.welfare.ie