Upfront testing costs not deterring Mica Redress Scheme Applications
Although fewer than 100 people in Donegal have made applications to the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme, Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien does not think upfront testing costs are to blame.
Donegal Live has learned that estimates for testing can range from €4,000 to €5,000 plus VAT and engineers' fees can approach €2,000, both of which have to be paid before householders can submit an application to the Donegal County Council headed Mica Redress Scheme.
In an exclusive interview with Donegal Live following the official launch of the Mica Redress Scheme, Minister O'Brien said there had been “a general slow down across all sectors of society because of Covid-19.”
He stressed: “That is why it was important today, when I could travel to Donegal, that we reset and officially launched the Scheme. Hopefully that raises the public awareness of it, that it is open and that Donegal County Council will be managing the scheme here.
“We people to apply and want people to work through any issues that they have. I have had no significant complaints about that [upfront testing charges]. Other remediation schemes, the one that I was heavily involved in, the Pyrite Scheme, had upfront costs too.
“Schemes evolve. However, we need to get it started. We need to get a handle on how many people are actually going to be applying and then we can actually work out how much work can happen each year, how many houses we can actually fix, remediate or indeed replace in any given year.
“That is why I am calling on people now to interact with Donegal County Council, to start to sending in their applications, straight away,” said Minister O'Brien.
Drawing a comparison with the Pyrite Remediation Scheme, Minister O'Brien said people there had also faced upfront costs.
He added: “Once people knew the Pyrite Remediation Scheme was open and it was important because it was their home, where they could cover the upfront costs, they did and most people do.
“I don't see, if we are giving a permanent solution for people that some of the upfront costs are going to prohibit them from getting involved, I genuinely don't but what I am saying is through, If we see that the Scheme needs tweaked, into the future I am open to doing that. However, what I am really anxious to do is to get people to engage with the Scheme as soon as possible.”
Concurring, Minister of State for Law Reform Charlie McConalogue said part of the delay in applications had been “people waiting to see the details of the Scheme.”
He added: “Some people did go ahead and get the testing done in advance but they are a small number. People wanted to be sure as to what exactly it was they needed to get done
“Now the Scheme is up and running, people are engaging with engineers and, although part of the application process is you have to get tested and you have to show you do have mica, you can get 90 percent of the testing costs back at the end, once you have made the application, as part of Phase One.”
A member of the Mica Action Group told Inish Times it was crucial to get registrations for the Mica Redress Scheme up to 200 by the end of September, to ensure the Scheme's inclusion in Budget 2021.
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