Contractors left out of pocket by Limerick private householders

Fianna Fáil councillor Catherine Slattery.

BUILDING contractors are not being paid for work they have done for some private householders in Limerick who have received grants to cover the cost of the work. 

The issue was raised at this month’s Metropolitan District council meeting by Fianna Fáil councillor Catherine Slattery who asked the council to change its policy of payment for Housing Adaptation grants for people with a disability, housing aid for older people and mobility aids grants.

Instead of lodging the grant to the applicants bank account, the City East representative called for it to be paid directly to the bank account of the contractor who has completed the job.

She said she has been approached by a number of builders who told her that when they have given a quotation to a person and that person’s grant application is approved, they are then given the go ahead to start works.

However, she said that many go without receiving proceeds from the grants.

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“When the builder is not paid, it can have a drastic affect on their business as they have purchased materials to do the work and then don’t get paid. Small builders are reliant on payment as it keeps their business afloat and their employees in work,” she explained.

Cllr Slattery said there was a danger that small builders and contractors will no longer do the jobs for the grants if they are not getting paid and the work will go to larger contractors who charge more and will make the grant less valuable.

Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon (FF) seconded the motion, saying he felt the issue was of concern as small contractors are already being hit by rising costs of materials.

Sinn Féin councillor Sharon Benson took the view that the option should be available and suggested the executive “keep options open”.

In response, Senior Executive Officer of the Council’s Housing Support Services, Mary Hayes, explained that the local authority administers the scheme and approves an applicant for a grant but does not recommend or engage contractors to carry out works to the approved applicant’s property as this is the responsibility of the householder.

In exceptional circumstances, the Council do authorise payments to the contractors where an applicant does not have a bank account, and this is considered on a case by case basis.

Cllr Slattery hit back that the response was a “complete joke” and told the executive that it was not adequate.

“Come back with a more favourable response,” she insisted.

Kieran Lehane, Director of the Metropolitan District, said they would go and “reflect” on her proposal.