Families face bills of over 45,000 euro under mica redress scheme, Dail hears

Opposition TDs have said a sliding scale contained in the scheme will cost families tens of thousands of euro.

James Ward
Tuesday 30 November 2021 16:11
The structural damage is seen in the mica-affected home of Ali Farren in Malin Head, Co Donegal (Niall Carson/PA)
The structural damage is seen in the mica-affected home of Ali Farren in Malin Head, Co Donegal (Niall Carson/PA)

Homeowners hit by the mica scandal will be left with bills of over 45,000 euro under the Government’s new redress scheme, the Dail has heard.

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty criticised a cap of 145 euro per square foot in the scheme, available only for the first 1,000 square feet, with a sliding scale in place thereafter.

He said costs to Donegal County Council under the current scheme have come in at an average of 150 euro per square foot.

The Government’s schemes caps the first 1,000 feet at 145 euro, the second 1,000 feet at 110 euro, and the remainder at 100 euro.

“The average size of a mica-affected house in Donegal is 2,300 square feet.

“With your sliding scale that means that somebody will have to find 45,500 euro themselves to build their house,” he said during Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday.

“If they are the average one-off house in this State, which comes in at just shy of 2,600 square feet, under the sliding scale that your Cabinet has signed off on, they would have to find 56,000 euro.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the methodology was devised by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, which found the annual average to be 138 euro per square foot.

He said Government had gone beyond that for the first 1,000 foot.

He added: “That will change again in April, from the surveyors’ guide, and we will be guided by them and their methodology, which is a sliding scale.

“If you talk to any quantity surveyor, that’s perfectly understandable.

“There are economies of scale at play in the context of larger houses.

“What we are absolutely adamant about us not to disadvantage smaller houses, which represent the bulk of the houses covered under this scheme, by a flat rate for example.

“I think this is an appropriate way.

“We need to depoliticise the methodology around the pricing and the square footage.”

Independent TD for Donegal Thomas Pringle said the Government’s mica redress scheme “doesn’t go far enough”.

Also speaking during Leaders’ Questions, he said families hit by the defective block scandal “couldn’t afford the last scheme and they can’t afford this scheme”.

He said the homeowners affected were not told about the “sliding scale” by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien in a briefing about details of the scheme on Tuesday morning.

“I have just spoken to members of Mica Action Redress Group and they have confirmed to me that when the Minister spoke to them this morning, there was no mention of a split rate or a sliding scale,” he said.

“He talked about the price per square foot and that was it.”

Mr Pringle reiterated Mr Doherty’s assertion that the sliding scale will impose costs of over 45,000 euro on the average homeowner.

“It’s time, Taoiseach, to be honest.

“You are not delivering 100% redress.

“You can dress it up anyway you want.

“The mica-affected homeowners won’t be hoodwinked again.”

The Taoiseach responded: “As currently structured, we’re now looking at a scheme of about 2.2 billion, for about 6,000 to 7,000 homes.

“That’s a very substantial contribution by the taxpayer of today and the future and the exchequer, to any housing remediation scheme.

“That needs to be acknowledged in the first instance.”

It's unprecedented, this level of State intervention. It's never happened before, at the level it's happening

Taoiseach Micheal Martin

He added: “I have no issue with sorting this out and helping families to get their homes rebuilt.

“I’ve been in a house, I’ve seen how devastating it is for families.

“We need to rebuild these houses.

“But we need to get on with it too and get it done.”

He said upfront costs to homeowners in the previous scheme had been removed, and 20,000 euro would be provided to homeowners for renting alternative accommodation while repairs are carried out, as well as storage costs.

“It’s unprecedented, this level of State intervention.

“It’s never happened before, at the level it’s happening,” he added.

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